If you have more than two children, you probably get the same questions that I do..."Are they all yours?", "How many do you have all together?", "Did you plan all of them?" And you've probably gotten comments like, "Better you than me!"
I think that all of those questions and more are evidence that there are two kinds of people in the world when it comes to children. There are people who view children
as a blessing, and there are people who view children as a burden to be handled, lived through, survived. You probably already know this, but the husband and I belong to that first group.
Many people have mentioned, and yes, we realize that there are lots of other things that we could do and there are many more things that we could buy if we didn't have any (or so many) children. Yes, our home is loud. Yes, there is drama and an endless amount of laundry to be done, meals to be fixed, dishes to be washed, homework to be completed, fights to be moderated. And there is way more than that.
But in washing that laundry and putting it away, fixing those meals and cleaning up afterward, breaking up fights and teaching the lessons that go along with it, we, ourselves, are being tutored in those things that God counts as critical in our development.
We are learning an attitude of service that does not come naturally to most people--it doesn't for us (an attitude of serving those who need us even when we are tired, sick and might feel like our own needs are more pressing). We are learning compassion for those who might or might not be showing compassion to us at the moment, learning not to respond because we are angry or even really ticked off, but to respond out of what is best for that other person.
We are learning to teach these little people instead of doing everything ourselves (when it would often be a lot easier and neater to do so). A hint here: teaching takes longer (but it's worth it). We're learning to foster relationships between other people and not to always claim all the glory. We're learning to look at ourselves, realize that there are improvements that we could make, and try to start making them.
By no means have we completed our coursework. We are in class every day, no week ends and holidays off and no regularly scheduled bathroom or shower breaks. We are immersed in this on-the-job training 24/7 (vomit and out-of-sync baby schedules know no routine).
And most people who wonder why we have so many little teachers wonder why we didn't make it easier on ourselves with fewer of them. But the truth is, even though this life is really demanding, we have a purpose here that goes way beyond ourselves. Even though it's really fun to do things exclusively for our own enjoyment, that feels a little empty and shallow after a while. That's not our purpose here on this earth. Our purpose is less about figuring out how to get more of what we want for ourselves and more about learning how to give more of what someone else needs (did I mention that we are still learning?).
And for those who feel sorry for us thinking that we get too little for ourselves...the joy that I see in my son's face when he learns a new task (recently: folding washcloths, sweeping up macaroni under the table, using Daddy's drill to screw in the bolts on some ramps that he and Daddy made) is an amazing reward. The pride that I feel when my oldest daughter is complimented for her integrity (ie: not watching a show that I told her not to watch when she is out of town with grandparents) and when my middle daughter shares her coveted cookie with a brother whose tummy is already full of cookies....these kinds of things are part of the package. Yes, our life is demanding, but the payback is rich. Even when we don't deserve it.
So if you see my family in the grocery store and start to count how many children we have, know that you are counting our blessings, that we are rich in what matters, that we wouldn't have it any other way.