Right now, at this moment, my house is completely quiet. Well, except for the crickets chirping in the little cage that Gresham keeps them in until he feeds them to his pet bearded dragon. Three of the boys are at the hardware store with Dad, and Jonathan and Janie are napping. The washing machine has stopped it’s eternal whirring, for the moment, and everything is peaceful.
I’ve learned to embrace the rare moments of peaceful. Because five months ago, we joined the ranks of “crazy” in the opinion of most Americans as we welcomed our fifth baby into the world.
What is it like having five children?
Are we still sane? Are we surviving with no down time, no time for fun, and all of our paychecks going to the grocery store and the electric bill?
Having five is a lot.
There are a lot of needs, a lot of fights, and a lot of noise. There is a lot of laundry. A LOT of laundry. And instead of looking like something out of Pinterest (because all the money for cute home decor goes to groceries, remember), my laundry room looks like this:
But it also looks like this:
And I wouldn’t trade my happy (most of the time) helpers for all the beautiful laundry rooms on Pinterest. (Although I am actually hoping to paint this room next week!)
You see, life is messy.
And lots of lives in one house means lots of mess. We have a lot of dishes and a lot of spills and a lot of work to do just to take care of the aftermath of dinner. And dinner is only one event out of the day, which means that you can imagine a large dinner mess and then multiply it by ten to understand what we clean up on any given day.
Then there’s the emotional mess. We have a lot of fights and a lot of tears and a lot of problems to sort out. My husband and I have to do a lot of shepherding and a lot of teaching and a lot of counseling and a lot of instructing people who don’t want to listen. And a lot of praying and a lot of wondering if we are even doing the right thing at all or just making things worse.
Life is a challenge, and the more life you have in your house, the greater the challenges are.
But the thing is… life is also a beautiful gift from God.
The hard things are hard but the beautiful ones are indescribable.
The joy of new life…
The first cry of a newborn never lost it’s wonder despite having five of them. In fact, it became sweeter and more precious because we knew just how fleeting those baby days are.
We fell in love with having babies.
And with celebrating milestones,
And new accomplishments,
And laughter (because everything is funnier with more people laughing),
And new relationships.
And along the way, we are learning (and reminding ourselves on the hectic days, which is all of them) that it often takes many hard moments (and actually mostly God’s grace) to learn that the best things in life are not a lack of interruptions or a lack of mess or a lack of frustrations, but the people that God has given you to share the journey with.
And we are learning that a parent’s love does not run out when you add more children. Love is not a substance that can be used up. Instead, it multiplies as it is shared between more family members.
(Yes, I know I used this photo in another post. I can’t help it, it’s my favorite!)
I’m not going to lie. Sometimes it’s really hard. Sometimes I feel like there is not enough of me to go around, but we hang in there and it’s okay. Some days I would love to have extra money to just buy new jeans for myself, and I don’t because the kids need new shoes. Because they have grown. Again. But to all of you who see us sitting near you in a restaurant and think, “Oh my, those poor people have five children! And look at ALL those boys! I wonder if they know what causes that?” I just want to say this: Don’t feel sorry for us because we had to get up 47 times during the meal to get more napkins and refill a drink and another drink and another drink and change the toddler’s clothes because he spilled his. You might wonder how we could possibly be happy in all that chaos, but happiness truly has nothing to do with how many beverages we have spilled in public places.
You might wonder how we can afford to have so many children in today’s economy and wonder if our kids are missing out because they are not able to be enrolled in six activities each (they’re not) and if they hate having to share rooms (they don’t) and wear handed down clothes (they actually don’t mind it at all – they’ve never known any different).
You might wonder if five is an ideal family size, because it’s an odd number, and everyone knows that odd numbers are difficult. Someone is going to be left out and scarred for life. And to that question I would tell you that the perfect family size is the one that God gives to you because He knows what is best for each family.
You might wonder how we possibly get it all done, and the truth is that we don’t. We make decisions about what is most important and do those things. And often what we thought was the most important is trumped by a sick child or a flooded bathroom or syrup all over the dog. And that’s okay because God’s grace has never, ever failed to be sufficient.
So don’t feel sorry for us at all.
I’d say we are actually the most blessed people in the world.