Thursday, October 23, 2014

We Must Look Like Fruitcakes

I think, sometimes, that when you become so comfortable as a mom, confident in your role as a parent, and a little more sure-footed as to what is best for your kids in reference to doing "you", and not trying to replicate someone else's version of parenting, you must sort of look like a fruit cake.

Or maybe you look like Super Mom (to your kids anyway, and that's all that still look like a fruit to the lady in the grocery store who does a different version of normal).

But whatever the case is, I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that hubs and I have finally sort of come into our own version of normal, and embraced what our version of normal is, for our house, for our relationship, and for our kids. That doesn't look like everyone else's version of normal. And you know what? That's okay. We do "us", you do "you", and we all have one common goal at the end of the day: to create an end result in our children- ultimately, that they love Jesus, and stay out of corrections facilities. All joking aside, though, every family has the best interests of their child in mind.

I want to respond to some things that are said to us, after some conversations this week with individuals at the grocery store, the farmer's market, at events, and with friends, about some perceptions of my family and what I think. I get that we are different. We have 4 kids. Some people feel this is an exorbitant amount of children, which I will address later. We are a breastfeeding family, and while I am usually discreet and not usually nips to the wind, I am comfortable breastfeeding in public. Next up, we don't really use strollers. Over the last year, we have used ours a handful of times, and usually, the kids go up on us in a carrier, sling, or wrap. Another not as common sight. Same down the line with cloth diapers, or a crib side-car'd to the bed, or the fact that we are training up kids who need discipline, and we actually follow through with it.

But in spite of all the above, the thing that seems to strike people (and irk me) the most is that we enjoy having 4 children. That we like our children. It seems like there is such a societal disdain for children now. Or that having beyond the 1-2 quota means you are either Catholic, part of the quiverfull movement, ignorant to your carbon footprint, or a total sex addict.

Then there is the juicy fact that Jose and I actually like...wait, is any one listening? Shhhhh. Each other. We aren't big spouse bashers, we are supportive, we are a team, and we are in it to win it. Ten years later, we still smooch, just in front of kids who think it's gross. We still put on perfume or cologne when we go out, because we know it gets the other one going. Jose is a grabber, and it still happens. I personally am really digging the whole beard thing. And we hear things from people like, "You still act like that? Doesn't it get old? You're still in to each other?" Umm, yeah, we do, it doesn't, and yes, very much so. See the portion regarding knowing how the children get here. Get over it.

The other thing that gets me is the total lack of filter on people. And I don't mean just being nice and asking questions. I don't mind people asking about our kids or our family or parenting questions or birthing questions or breastfeeding questions...I get asked at least daily about something. When it's from an innocent place, and the tone isn't a condescending one, I could care less. Most people know that I am transparent and don't hide much. You can ask me just about anything, just be prepared that I may be blunt about it. Jose talks about all of us at work (that's what all his colleagues tell me, that he "gushes" about us, lol), so he is used to fielding inquiries, too. He confided to me that nearly once a shift, he has been asked if we are "like the Duggar family" by a patient, or had a staff member comment on our marriage or the kids. Don't get me wrong- the Duggars are an awesome family, but we are doing our own thing.

So they're all yours? Yes, they are all mine. And yes, they are all his.
Don't you use birth control? You know how this happens, right?  Yeah we do, and we quite enjoy it. (I love seeing the look on people's faces when I say that back. Hello??? You just asked if I know where babies come from. Are you seriously shocked that I respond that way when you are so rude?!) Yes, we know how to turn the TV on. No, we aren't nymphos (someone actually asked me that after the birth of my third child. Right, lady, because with 3 children, most of them aged 3 and under, all we have time to do is pork each other.) We also aren't Catholic, Mormon, related to the Duggar family, on and on and on...and our contraceptive use is none of your business.
You have how many children? Wait, didn't you just have a baby, and now you have another? That baby is 2 years old. He's actually what we call a "toddler" now. But Jose grew a beard and I grew a baby, and yeah, it happened. Just not as fast as you perceived it to be.
You've got your girl! You must be done, right? First of all, it ain't none of yah dang business. But since I don't mind being open...we actually have no idea. We are praying and asking the Lord what he has for us. Jose and I are very content with 4 children for the time being. We are both open to the fact that God may say more, or we may both get the sense that we are done. We are in total agreement that I need a break of at least a few years before any more children if we do have more. I have been physically sustaining the life of another human being (pregnant, breastfeeding, breastfeeding and pregnant, or tandem breastfeeding) now for 50 months solid.  It takes a toll physically, as well as mentally and emotionally, especially with some physical conditions I deal with, like calcium deficiency.  For the mean time, we are just seeking God. We have always said we will wait 6-12 months post partum, bare minimum, before making any sort of permanent decision regarding future child bearing, so we don't make a rash, sleep deprived, hormonal decision and regret it later. But Jose is awesome-sauce and totally volunteered to get a vasectomy when God confirms to both of us that we are done growing our biological family (you never know, we could adopt), and makes us both at total peace.
That's awesome that you were brave enough to keep trying for a girl! I got nervous after ___ children of the same sex and got my tubes tied. Actually, we weren't trying. Actually, quite the opposite, but that's another story for another day, and God totally had me being pregnant a 4th time in his plans, because according to Jose and my plans, we shouldn't have been able to be pregnant. And to think that we would solely base adding the life of another human being to our family because of our preference for one sex or another is just absurd. I met a woman this week that I was talking about this to- she was the third girl and her parents were trying for a boy. When she found out, she felt like she was such a let-down to her dad, even to this day.
So you have an elementary school aged child, a pre-schooler, a toddler, and a newborn? How are you still functioning? By taking one day at a time, not looking at the big picture but instead at the immediate needs that must be met, and by trusting my Savior for sustaining power, grace, mercy, love, and compassion.
You look terrible!  Thanks, Captain Obvious. Of course I do. I have a newborn. Over the course of four years, we have had a total of 6 nights to ourselves with no children. Child growing, child bearing, and breastfeeding are exhausting. But thanks. I know I look tired and I am getting wrinkles and that there is spit up all down my shirt and probably baby poop under a finger nail and my shoes don't match my outfit. Do we really need to talk that way?
You had your babies at home without an epidural? You're a warrior! Yeah, I am. Childbirth is pretty gritty and powerful and reduces you to your most primal self.  I got through it, and it wasn't all rosy and unicorn farts and rainbows. And just because I did it vaginally or because I had no pain meds or because I did it at home doesn't make me any more of a warrior than it does the mom who had an epidural, had her baby in a cab, had her baby in a hospital bed, had her baby in an operating room, or had her baby on her head...we are all birthing warriors. Every woman needs an enormous amount of strength to endure any type of birth- a 42 minute labor to a 10 pound baby, or a 30 hour labor to a 6 pound baby; a mom who relies on her husband, her doula, her mother, her friend; a mom who held her baby to her breast, or a mom who said goodbye to her baby on the same day she said hello...we are all warriors, no matter our journey and our battles and our different preferences, so we need to stop comparing and elevating moms we deem fit.

One lady at a baby shower asked if Lucy was my first baby. Upon telling her no, and about our other children, the response I got was so disheartening: Oh my gosh! And you have this many by choice? I have two kids, and I can't stand them! My heart just sank. I had not a clue how to address her, but this is the overwhelming attitude Jose and I are encountering, and it just shows how far as a society we have been duped into believing that children are wretched, style-cramping twerps that dare impede on our Saturday morning brunches, shopping trips, movie nights, and sanity.

What about what God has to say about children? When your life is based around what the Bible has to say about it, it really starts changing the attitude you have about your children. Even if you aren't a believer, you should be able to identify with the Bible here. We are supposed to have compassion on our children, like God has shown compassion to us (Psalm 103:13). Psalm 113 talks about the barren woman being settled in her home as a happy mother, not a mother who can't stand to be around her kids. Psalm 127 and 128 are some of the more quoted verses regarding children, reminding us that our children are our blessings, our heritage, our rewards. Jesus himself said to let the children come to him (Matthew 19:14)- reminding us of the Father's love for children, and that we should model that ourselves.  

Sometimes, you need to decompress and forget what the world thinks. Last Saturday, we decided to do something fun as a family, just to get out together after a long week. We loaded the kids up on a gorgeous, 75 degree sunny day and headed for the farmer's market on the water. We had grain-free crepes filled with strawberries, bananas, and nutella. Jose and i sat in the grass and watched our three boys play tag with each other. Not one kid took off, bowled anyone over, or got hurt. They all ate their breakfast. No one fought, yelled, or cried. Things went amazing- and it doesn't usually happen that way. After, we walked around the crafters part of the market, eyeing beautiful art and sculptures, homemade soaps, and knick knacks. No less than four times in thirty minutes, we were stopped by booth owners or other customers walking around to comment on our family. What a beautiful family you have... your children are so well behaved... you're handling life with a newborn so well... It was a spur of the moment thing to get out, and the Lord knew we needed it. He blessed us with awesome children, and let some other people see how awesome they are just to encourage us to keep on taking things one day at a time, in His strength, stepping out and seeking His will for our family.

1 comment:

  1. What a beautiful article. Thank you for sharing this perspective. It is so refreshing and really encouraging!