You just do, and you would too...
When people discover the dynamic of our family, there is always a little shock and wonder because what follows is typically this question, “How do you do it?” I find myself smile and say, “you just do, and you would too.”
It’s true though, life is all about perspective and about responding to the situation. If Mo and I were to encounter a family like ours now, back when we just had Parker and Weston, we too would have thought - wow that seems impossible - but here we are doing just that, raising five beautiful babies, maintaining full time careers and we are flourishing even when it’s hard. So I guess it’s a good question - how do we do it?
Patience. Patience with my children, when they continue to flounder even though we have given them the right path. Patience with myself, when I struggle to be who I need to be for my kids, for my students, for my husband, and just for me. Patience with my life, knowing that it’s a work in progress and it won’t be perfect. Patience with my husband, because I often ask so much of him and just because he approaches things differently doesn’t make it wrong. We all can grant ourselves a little more grace and patience as we navigate our journey, by doing so it allows us to feel settled with the progress we make each day.
Capturing the small moments. I am a picture person, I get it honestly, my mother is the same way. And like my mother, I’m preserving the good in the day. Holding on to that moment that was so right, so beautiful. The moment captured showed the love we have for one another, the growth we have made, or just the quiet amongst the chaos. I relish in finding these moments each day and then run to grab my camera, so I can freeze the moment in time. So when life is hard, spinning faster than we can keep up, we have these images to remind us of what can be, and what will be again.
Teamwork. Corbin was 15 months when the twins were born, so Mo and I didn’t have a great deal of practice with what people like to call the “zone defense” of parenting. We quickly figured out that when your children outnumber you, you have to creatively tag team every moment of the day. Don’t go having a bunch of kids with someone you don’t completely trust and love to the ends of the earth, because this person is your everything. Mo and I often work off of an invisible checklist every day that without really communicating about it, we just work together to accomplish those tasks, tasks that are incredible important - fulfilling the needs of our children and keeping the house afloat. It’s not perfect. I’ve written before about how different my husband and I are, so you can imagine there is conflict because we approach situations in very different ways. At the root of it all though, is a deep appreciation for this person, because they helped to create this life with you and happiness is grounded in us working together as a team.
Efficiency. We keep things as simple as possible, because to be perfectly honest our life is not simple, so if we can simplify as much as we can it keeps the feeling of a circus every minute of every day, at bay. Simplify by not over-scheduling ourselves, we have to say no sometimes and we have to think about our children before anyone else. Simplify by indulging in certain things so our focus can be on our family - having someone mow the lawn, clean the house and pick up the dry cleaning once a week, eating take-out on the super busy nights, and taking full advantage of Kroger “click-list” for groceries. Our entire crew runs well on routines, so we can be efficient and productive when we stick to our routine. This makes us sound like we aren’t very adventurous, but playing outside with all five children after a day at school is honestly a really big adventure! We will get there one day, where we have even bigger adventures, right now the day to day grind is wild enough for us.
Accepting help and being thankful for our village. I have never been good at accepting help from others, it comes back to my struggle with control, but also my pride. I have created this life and I want to prove to everyone that I can do this! How important though, that we accept help and recognize when we need it. It takes a village to raise a family and we have found that to be true in more ways than one. Accepting help from my parents when there are just too many things in one night and my husband and I can’t possibly be at everything. Accepting help from my colleagues when a child is sick and I’m too exhausted to create sub plans. Accepting help from the neighbors when one child falls and scraps his knee, so you can tend to his needs and they can watch the others. Don’t be afraid to let your guard down and ask for help, no one expects you to do it all, your village will be there to pick you up.
Growing me. It’s really easy to be hard on yourself. I am often way too hard on myself, but I have found that if I allow for “me time” - writing, working out, a drink on the patio, 30 extra minutes after school to accomplish the lingering to-do list items - I am so much better. Because it is hard, it’s hard when everyone in the house is needing something at the same time, it’s hard when your child is disappointed in you because you didn’t fulfill a promise because time in the day ran out, it’s hard when you see your children stumble and you weren’t there to catch them. It’s easy in those moments to feel defeated, to be overwhelmed, but I have learned that if I continue to “grow me,” strengthen who I am, I can tackle those challenging moments better. I have more confidence, more resiliency, I am better equipped because I have more faith in myself. Because I took a moment at some point in my day to reflect and think only of myself - how selfish that sounds, but it’s true. When I was at yoga one time the instructor said, “it’s important that you take an hour to strengthen yourself because without it how could you possibly be a strength for others.” How true.
So, the question is “how do we do it?” well in the end it’s about reminding ourselves that a bigger plan is being played out and that this story is more than just my own. Anything is possible, we see that all around us, so raising five children who are thriving and happy, while growing in our careers and at the same time relishing in our passions, and being satisfied with the life we have built together - it is possible. I’m proud of us and am so thankful that this is my story.