I’m in a season of life that often feels completely out of control. Granted, it’s a self-imposed season, but still, it’s not easy. Between eight children, all but one in school, cheer and football practice, feeding those eight kids, chores, music, Spanish lessons, a house that has been in total renovation mode for two years, sleep deprivation, laundry, and a gazillion tomatoes which come with the additional stress of the voluntary, yet firm belief that I must do something with all of the tomatoes because I so adamantly oppose wastefulness.
My house is not just messy but dirty. Quite dirty with little finger prints and boogers smeared on the walls. Dust balls are in the corners and fruit flies constantly eye the rotting tomatoes on the counters. It’s gross. I’ve become the PJ lady who only puts forth the effort to get dressed for church or date night which I must accomplish so that my husband remembers some semblance of who I used to be only four, short years ago. The bags under my eyes run deep, and the messy bun is my go to hair style. CC Cream and Sea Salt Spray have become my new best friends whenever I have to make some sort of half-hearted attempt at decency.
The baby sleeps on me, a lot. My arms are looking good again because she doesn’t appreciate what the Moby wrap represents. For me, the Moby wrap means hands free. For her, it represents an all you can eat buffet at the Golden Corral. Ain’t gonna happen sister - especially with two twelve year old boys in the house. My husband refers to the nursing issue as a ‘gateway situation.’ Apparently we don’t want ‘gateway boobs’ encouraging these young men at such an impressionable stage in their lives. The exposure could, inadvertently, lead to them needing bigger and better boobs.
I reply, “Good thing they weren’t born in Africa.” Lord help those poor African boys who will need extensive therapy for all of their exposure to gateway situations.
I often teeter between feeling like a dairy cow or a drug dealer. These are interesting times in our family.
The middles schoolers are hard. The girl middle schooler seems to have changed overnight. They have opinions, and they roll their eyes and call their siblings horrible names like butthole. Ryan and I try to be on the same page – always – lest the children sense weakness. And they often do. We try to nurture these delicate relationships while still touching base with the two five year olds who began school last week. They’re not thrilled with their sudden lack of freedom. Jada declared after the first day that she doesn’t like Kindergarten because she “can’t do what she wants.” I gently reminded her that this was never her reality.
And then there’s the handicapped son who has all sorts of special needs, and the beautiful 8 year old daughter with middle child syndrome who has not broken up with sassy as she informed us a week ago. She has instead reignited that relationship to get her point across in the midst of all of the craziness. Somewhere, in the madness, I’ve realized I also need to maintain a relationship with the man I love, my husband, my partner in crime, who now shares the coveted date night position (and the gateway situation) with his newborn daughter.
I rarely write anymore, (as you’ve probably noticed from the lack of activity on the blog), and if a thought happens to trickle into the other hundred “must do” thoughts that crowd my limited brain cells (probably due to the wine), I write it out in a spastic, dribbling like thought process on a random piece of paper, usually some junk mail left on the kitchen counter. I write this dribbling thought, which I pray is still in my head, and still coherent, through the tomatoes boiling over, the baby crying, or the phone ringing – something always interrupting the perceived brilliancy. Honestly, this post was written while nursing the baby. Written on my phone. Not dictated but written because speaking might wake the baby. Lord have mercy. It’s probably the most insane post I’ve ever written. Sorry about that. Writing with 7 kids; piece of cake. Writing with a newborn, is that even a thing?
There is no time to bathe and maybe five minutes for a shower. We eat - mostly tomatoes and noodles. Tomatoes require dirt and noodles require Amazon Prime. Thank goodness for Amazon Prime and the Schwan man or we wouldn’t eat much. The kids don’t complain – usually. We trade tomatoes for milk and pears on Sunday mornings. The baby is not easy – she’s not hard – but she’s opinionated. That’s to be expected. She is flesh of my flesh. It’s my current situation - I’m not this person, but I am right now. Eight kids and a baby, and a belief in the simple life (the oxymoron of that statement) and a badly desired writing career have created this life. I have created this. I so desperately wanted this once upon a time, and I hold fast to my desire for it in some weird crevice of my soul.
Every day feels like a race, a race that I never win. These are trying times, physically, mentally, and spiritually. We are stretched thin… I have guilt over the amount of me I give to each of my family members and even more guilt over what I give my Lord. But I choose this. We choose this. And the Lord calls us to obedience. That’s what I’ve been entrusted with right now – in this moment. Obedience in raising eight children. Obedience in being a wife to a tomato farmer. Ryan once said, (and I paraphrase for the sake of this post) when the Lord is in your life, He is in everything. The big and the small stuff. In the tomatoes and in the boogers on the walls. In the laundry and in the consequences for bad words. In the five minute moments of intimacy before the baby wakes up and in the 9 o’clock bedtimes because sleep takes precedence over intimacy. He’s in it all. He calls us to obedience, and if he is the orchestrator of this craziness, it is my job to be obedient and to engage. To be loving, joyful, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled in the mess. To exhibit fruit in the madness; fruit to outsiders looking in and fruit to those in my family. It will not last forever. The hecticness will be replaced with kids growing up as they always do, and kids learning to do their own laundry. Kids who stop talking through the teenage years (kind of looking forward to that one), and kids who drive and work and leave for college. The noise will be replaced with quiet. Life will inch forward, and I will, once again, sit quietly at my computer and take long, uninterrupted baths and embark on weekend excursions with my husband.
And I will no longer feel like a dairy cow nor will my presence create harmful gateway situations.
There is a time for everything and a season for every activity under Heaven. Thank you Lord for my life. May I always be obedient. Just keep livin!
Jess - hang it there. I was one of eight children, don't know how my mother did it, but she is a saint. And, she was faithful to God and I'm sure that is how she got through many trying times. I so enjoy your posts. And, I'm so happy you and Ryan have each other.