Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Dishes Don't Have Feelings.

I absolutely LOVE being a mom! But sometimes it is A LOT of work!! It can be emotionally, physically, and spiritually  draining! And having my children so close together has made it necessary for me to be the best I can. However, I am constantly trying to find ways to be that much better at it. Being a mom has stretched me and strengthened me in so many ways. I want to share with you a little bit of our experience and hopefully it will give you courage to do what you need to do and be for your family.

Before we got married we thought we'd have 5 or 6 kids. I came from a family of 14 kids (7 boys and 7 girls) and my husband came from a family of 7. So 5 or 6 sounded good to us. And that's a REALLY BIG number right now in the world's eyes. My husband just took Chelsea to Disneyland and when she was being interviewed by "Crush" she said there were 5 kids in her family. And there was an audible gasp from the crowd... But, we absolutely love having a lot of little kids running around.

Anyway, when we got married we knew we wanted to start having a family right away. But, we didn't get pregnant for 7 months and then had a miscarriage. We were discouraged but hopeful. And then we got pregnant 2 weeks after our miscarriage (Miracle #1). We loved being parents. We would both want to hold the baby all the time and were so happy to start our little family.

When Chelsea was 6 months old we got a very distinct nudging that we should start praying about having another baby. I was still nursing and hadn't had a period yet so we thought that it would be a couple months down the road before we got pregnant. Needless to say, we got pregnant immediately, AND with TWINS!!! We were SOOO surprised! We would have our children 15 months and twins, 52 seconds apart. At this point, we knew we wanted to have at least 3 kids so we trusted in Heavenly Father and prayed that He would help us be the best parents we could be to these little ones.

During this time I came across a blog post about someone who had a large family who wanted to encourage other moms to have more kids. It's called, "Why Most Families Have 2 Children." My favorite part of the article is: 
"You see, there are lessons in the school of motherhood. With each child, you are promoted. God chips away at us, and refines us, and makes us beautiful." 
When I read that it resonated with me so deeply! I knew I wanted more children. I wanted to become a better person. Better able to serve and help those around me. Somehow I felt like I had more time to serve and help others with three children than I did when I just had one child. I at least had more of a desire to do that. I think as we grow closer to God our focus turns outward. I desire everyday to help my children's life to become meaningful. I want to do the extra things to help them feel special.

Since then, we've had one miscarriage and two more boys! The twins and Easton are 2 1/2 years apart and Easton and Jameson are 12 months apart. It's just crazy how life goes! Not many people know this, but we didn't find out we were expecting with our 5th until we were 20 weeks along!!! I didn't get sick, I was still nursing, so it wasn't until I felt him move that we finally but two and two together!!!! We were surprised then, too! Jameson is now 7 months old and we are surviving. Not everyday goes perfectly and there are times I feel like I am split into too many directions but here are few things that have helped me along the way:

1. My husband. Use him as a support. Not just to help around the house and changing diapers, but as an emotional support. I once read that one of the greatest indicators of postpartum depression was how much the husband and wife communicated about the day to day. How many diapers? Who spit up when? How long the baby slept? Etc. These things may not be the most interesting things of life but when you have a newborn they are everything in your life and they are important to you. When your husband shows that they are important to him, too, somehow it helps. Also, just the other day I was feeling overwhelmed, my Jaime was sick and was just fussy all day, when I felt like I was at a breaking point I called Michael and told him, "I just feel overwhelmed." Somehow just him knowing that helped me not feel so stressed.

2. Schedules. Now, these schedules are not hard and fast. And somedays they are completely different. But I like to look for "landmarks" in my day. When we get up in the morning we have breakfast, then on our best days, I have my kids go say their prayers and make their beds. Then we get ready, etc. Then we let life happen. Then at about noon I make lunch and at 12:30pm I put the boys down for naps and the girls have "calm-a-palooza" or calm-time. This gives me about an hour to an hour and a half every day, in the middle of the day, to decompress and get some things done, usually on the computer (bills, emails, etc.). But, sometimes I take a nap, too!  The rest of the day goes on, life happens, and then we get ready for dinner around 5 o'clock. I usually get dinner started and in the oven, then we straighten the house. I've noticed that we don't play a lot after dinner so it stays clean until the next day. But that leads me to my next idea.

3. Dishes don't have feelings. I genuinely strive to do my dishes every day (this is more out of necessity than anything!!! we go through so many dishes in one day). But, there are some days I have to remind myself that dishes don't have feelings, computers don't have feelings, toys don't care if they are put away, but your children have feelings and they care if you are "there." Learning (and I'm still learning) to be selfless with my time is one of the ultimate ways to become like the Savior, to truly give of yourself to someone else. But, when if you HAVE to get something done?

4. Include your children. There are some days I just want a clean house or I have company coming, so the girls and I spend all day cleaning! And it is so much fun! They love to be my little helpers. We turn on fun music and just go to town! There was also one day I wanted to make my twins a birthday slideshow, it was going to take a while and a lot of my attention so instead of busying up my children while I got it done I let them sit by me and we had a great time talking about all the memories from the past year. It took me longer to finish but we were creating memories and remembering memories at the same time.

5. And then sometimes it is okay to let your children "be entertained." When I first had children I would be so worried that they were watching too many movies, etc. But, at times it made it so we had a happy home. And we could all enjoy each other. And I could get some important things done. I usually turn on a Baby Einstein or Disney Junior while I'm making dinner. They aren't thinking about how hungry they are and I'm able to remember how many cups of flour I've added to the French Bread.

6. Lower your expectations for a little while. Buy paper plates. Let the dishes stay stacked in the sink. Do your best with the laundry. What I keep learning time and time again is that people are the most important and it's all going to be okay.

Anyway, I don't know if any of that is helpful. But, here's a little bit of what I'm learning. And it may spark some ideas for you as you figure out what is best for your family.. Also, if you have any specific questions, let me know.

Love, Jenny