on being a mother of four

For as long as I can remember, I wanted to have four children. I am one of three girls and we always wished we had one more sibling to round us out.  When I met Ryan, he had the same desire for a large family.  Among so many other things, I loved that we had similar ideas for our ideal family.

So here we are, 14 years later, with our precious family of six. To tell you the truth, we didn’t try for any of our kids, yet we feel so thankful for the perfect timing and blessing of all four of them.

But let me be honest with you …

Having four kids is hard.

I wouldn’t trade it. Never, ever. But sometimes {like right now} I just sit and cry from exhaustion, frustration, feeling like maybe I’m not well-enough equipped for this task of raising four little ones. FOUR! Sometimes it is just plain overwhelming.

Yesterday after church I needed to grab lunch for the kids on our way to visit Ryan who was working at the fire station.  The easiest thing would have been to go through a drive-thru, but we are trying to make healthy food choices and since I wasn’t in a major rush, I decided to stop into a sandwich shop instead.   I should have realized that a quick lunch place like this would be overflowing on a sunday afternoon, but by the time we parked and walked to the restaurant, it was too late.

First of all, let me say that I regularly have all four kids with me.  Ryan works for 24 hours at a time and so I’m on my own every couple of days. I take the kids to church by myself. We go out to eat. I take them with me on errands.  We frequent the post office, Costco, Target, our local Mexican restaurant.  While it is not always the easiest or most enjoyable way to dine or shop, it is the life of a mom with kids.

So taking the kids to lunch yesterday was normal for me.

We found our place in a long line behind an older woman in a hot pink sweater. She took notice of the kids and seemed friendly. #3 {4} went off climbing on some sign. I brought him back into line. Then Audrey {2} made her way over to the sign and I grabbed her too. At that point the lady turned to me and said,”are ALL of these YOURS?”.

“yep. All four of them”.

“Well, it looks like you finally got your girl.”

Let’s stop right here. This is just about the WORST thing you can say to a mom of three boys and a girl. Can you image what the boys think when they hear some stranger assume that his parents just weren’t satisfied with them and so they kept trying for a girl? I know they are too young to put this idea together, but someday soon, they won’t be. And NO, we did not keep trying for a girl. We didn’t even try. We just got her. Of course we were thankful. Of course I wanted a girl. But we would have been perfectly happy with our three boys.

This wasn’t the first time I’ve heard the finally-got-your-girl statement. I hear it regularly. Normally I just smile and nod. Or say something to turn it around like “Yes … she sure is lucky to have three big brothers to look after her.”  It normally doesn’t get to me too much. But for some reason, I was not in the mood for the statement from the hot-pink-sweater-lady.

She went on …

“I have three girls. We stopped after three because I did not want a boy”.

To which I just smiled.

Then #3 started pushing #1 who elbowed him back and she started shushing them and telling them to stand still and not hit.

She moved on to order her food at one register. I moved to the next.  It was chaos. I fully admit to that. Ordering for four kids who change their minds every three seconds is a challenge.  The whole process of choosing chips or an apple, whole wheat or sourdough, white or chocolate milk can fluster anyone, let alone a mom who is also trying to corral three boys, hold a squirmy toddler and find a wallet in a vast black hole of a purse.

As I was finishing up, hot-pink-lady tapped me on the shoulder and chuckled, “you sure are brave.”

Maybe she was just being funny. I don’t know. But it made me fume.

I wanted so much to turn around and say:

That is not helpful. Can’t you see that I am trying my best? Can’t you see that I love my kids and want to feed them healthy food and do fun things with them? I could have just gone through the drive-thru and I probably should have. But instead I decided to make a lunch date out of it and you are not helping. Can’t you remember when your three girls were little and what it was like to take them to a restaurant by yourself? It is not easy. But it is worth it. Because I want them to know how to act in public.  I want them to experience life outside of our home. Sometimes they misbehave, they climb on things they shouldn’t or elbow their brother or change their minds at the last second.  But they are BABIES. I’m trying lady.  I really am.  And your condescending tone telling me I’m brave is basically a cute way for you to say I’m a bad mom and that my kids are not welcome here. It is not helpful. 

Instead, I ignored her; I didn’t even turn around. I knew if I did I would say something snippy and that wouldn’t do any good.

We ate our lunch. Audrey spilled her yogurt down her shirt. #1′s sandwich dropped on the floor. #2 ate all the chips. #3 cried when we left because I couldn’t hold him.  It wasn’t a perfect lunch date. But we sat together at the table and enjoyed the few minutes of a tasty lunch.

When we got in the car and drove to the fire station, I fell apart. My feelings were so hurt by the lady with the hot pink sweater. I felt criticized, so looked-down on. There was no compassion in her tone of voice or the way she interacted with the kids.  She was mean. And she probably wasn’t even meaning to be.

I’m not sure why I’m writing all of this for the world to see. I think I just need to ‘journal’ this part of my life. I’m a mom of four kids and sometimes it is hard.

I try {as I’m sure most other adults do} to look right, act right, say the right thing when I’m out in public. I don’t want to be embarrassed. And yet I have these four little clueless children who seem to sabotage my appearance everywhere we go. They are good kids – they really are. But they don’t think the fabric store is all that fun and they take spools of thread out of its appropriate spot and leave it on the floor. That’s embarrassing. They throw fits in the toy aisle when we’re picking out a birthday gift and they don’t get something for themselves. That’s not how I’m raising them! They do that dreadful arched-back-so-buckling-is-impossible thing when getting in the car. Mortifying to think other people hear my sweet angel-baby sound like I’m torturing her when all I’m doing is trying to protect her by buckling her car seat.

Someone once said that parenting is not so much about teaching a child as it is about refining a parent. There is no one who can teach me more than my own children. I see my behavior, my words, my food preferences, my mannerisms reflected right back to me through them. And I don’t always like what I see.  I can try to look good on the outside, but my kids see the real me and its not always the patient, put-together, grace-filled, selfless person that I wish it was.

My kids embarrass me, they do. But no more than I should be embarrassed by my own ugliness that I so easily hide.  I may not leave spools of thread on the floor or throw myself on the ground when I don’t get what I want, but I sure do think some unloving thoughts or mumble under my breath when I don’t get my way.  I’m thankful to them for the ways they refine me, teaching me about grace and forgiveness and new mornings after particularly exhausting nights.

The speaker at church yesterday said there’s a funny thing that happens when you have children. You don’t need them to be complete. But once you have them, you can’t imagine being complete without them.

I love my kids. I learn from my kids. I can’t imagine my life without my kids.

I’m sure you feel the same if you have children of your own.

No matter how challenging they are, or how exhausted I may be, I would never trade this life.  I just wish there were fewer pink-sweater ladies who make me feel like I’m not doing a good enough job.

So here is what I want to say to wrap up this long-winded thing.

If you see a mom who looks like she needs help, HELP HER. Even if she says no.

If you see a mom who is doing a good job, ENCOURAGE HER. Even if it is awkward.

Whether you have little children, grown children or none at all, you can make such a difference to a young mom.

We’re all struggling through this thing called motherhood – some days are better than others – and we need each other. We need community.

I needed that Costco worker who distracted Audrey from her crying fit. I needed the man who held the door open for my entourage. I needed my best friend to watch the kids for an extra hour so I could enjoy a few minutes of free time. We needed the elderly couple at Starbucks who complimented Ryan and me on our well-behaved kids. These simple kind gestures made such a big difference to me.

I am thankful for the chance to raise four kids. I am so proud of who they each are and continue to find more things to love about each one. Yes, it can be hard. Yes, its chaotic and exhausting to keep up. Yes, I fail and will continue to make mistakes. I’ll probably run into more critical old ladies at restaurants and my kids will probably continue to elbow each other. I’ll probably be embarrassed and maybe even cry about it again.

That’s life.

That’s my life.

And I wouldn’t trade it.

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405 Responses to on being a mother of four

  1. Rosie February 14, 2012 at 3:51 pm #

    You ARE doing a great job!!! I know exactly how you feel…miraculously I took my boys (3 boys and am currently pregnant w/ a little GIRL lol and due in April so about 7 mths) to Chicago by myself to visit some friends and family while my hubby went snowmobiling (about a 3 hour drive). I took all three boys to Portillos and McDonalds by myself and they were tired (physically) and were SO GOOD, LOL! I got STARES, I tell you, STARES of unbelief from people of all ages that couldn’t BELIEVE I was there w/ three boys (and obviously pregnant) and that I “had them under control” or they were being good, or however you want to see it. I was so pleased w/ them b/c a. it wasn’t normal LOL, and b. I am so glad those people got to see what a blessing a large family can be (even though those times were pure miracles in a way and the good Lord just knew my pregnant self *needed* them to behave at those times LOL). I walked out of those places thankful…not because my kids are usually “bad” but b/c they are KIDS and have a lot of energy and don’t always sit still and speak quietly in restaurants w/out correctly and guidance. That is normal! Now, back to reality and one of my FAVE overwhelmed mama moments ever. I took all three boys (my 3rd was just a little baby) to Walmart. I had one riding under the cart, one asking if he could have one of everything in the yogurt section, and I was pushing the cart w/ my newborn in my front sling. I had one hand on the cart and one on the sling just resting on the sling but then switched to just resting both hands on the sling while talking to my older boys. This older woman says, “MY, You have your hands full!” (something I hear regularly)…now I’ve heard responses like, “you should see my heart!” etc…but this time, THIS time…as I was standing there talking to my older boys (both hands on my sling now) I turned to her, took both hands off the sling and showed them to her while saying, “No I don’t!” with a huge smile on my face LOL – You should have seen her jaw drop, it was SO FUNNY! Best moment ever – she was totally befuddled and had not idea what to say :)))

  2. Pamela February 14, 2012 at 4:34 pm #

    Keep up the great parenting!

  3. Lari February 14, 2012 at 5:07 pm #

    Oh Emily! You are a great mom…the hard truth is that a lot of people just don’t like kids….even though they may have their own. I’m mom to 4 boys and it always saddens me when people are so tacky w/ their comments about boys. Yes they are loud and rowdy sometimes, but they are boys and they are kids…not miniature adults. They’re also sweet and snuggly. We in the process of adoption and the first thing most people say after “You’re crazy!” (nice, huh?) is “are you going to get a girl?” We’re not specifying gender. Our feeling is God knows who belongs in our family…just as he did w/ our biological kids. Hang in there…it does get easier, maybe not less crazy ;) but they gradually become more self sufficient and independent which help lighten the load. We are blessed!

  4. Laura February 14, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    Emily, I loved the reality and vulnerability of your post today. As a mom of three boys, we’re asked all the time if we’re going to try for a girl, so I completely appreciate your frustration with the pink sweater lady’s question! Thanks for being honest in the midst of the frustrations of life; its refreshing. God definitely uses our kids to grow us into the adults he wants us to be!

  5. Meg February 14, 2012 at 6:24 pm #

    Thank you so much for this post – I am, too, a mother of four. My favorite? When we were pregnant with our fourth, and everyone made us feel like we were trying to populate the world by ourselves! I secretly snickered when someone who described us as having “a slough of kids” had a family member decide to have a fourth child as well – hmm, funny how quickly those words were never mentioned again.
    Thanks again for giving me a smile, reminding me that I’m not alone (I have a husband who works very long hours as well), and overall, making my day.

  6. Gina February 14, 2012 at 6:40 pm #

    I may not have walked a mile in your shoes, but I can relate a bit. I have two boys, 2 and 6. They are very active to say the least. I am constantly getting comments from strangers on how I need to keep trying for a girl. I find it so insulting. What ever happened to counting your blessings for healthy children? I think that because I am a woman it is a normal, natural feeling to want to have a girl, however I love my boys and wouldn’t change a thing about my life. I just find it incredibly insulting that people feel the need to comment in front of my kids too. My reaction is pretty much the same as yours. I smile and give some “Oh I have all I can handle right now”, but it is hurtful. Thank you for being honest and posting this. And if it is worth anything, I think you are an amazing mom…that’s one of the many reasons I read your blog!

  7. Colette February 14, 2012 at 8:11 pm #

    Thank you for this very real post. I only have two boys and read blogs like yours and often wonder “What is wrong with me? These women blog every day, do amazing crafts, have 4 kids, and look beautiful! I can’t even get out of yoga pants and get my kids in the car”.

    Thanks for letting us know that everyone has struggles and feels challenged. It allows me to be kinder to myself.

  8. Ali February 14, 2012 at 8:12 pm #

    I have 3 kids and my hubby works long hours so the 4 of us are often on our own running errands, grocery shopping, soccer shoe shopping, going to the Dr.’s to get shots and just doing life. I can’t tell you how many people ask me if all those kids are mine! Yes, all 3 are mine! But, I share them with my hubby! :) Makes me laugh! I’ve had my share of discouraging, superior, judgemental moments and that I wish I could just disappear. The last time all three were totally acting crazy was at the post office and it was mind blowing how they were acting! My daughter and my son were literally wrestling on the ground and I could not break them up! My youngest was trying to remove every single greeting card from the display! I was five shades of red! There was a 50ish old gentleman staring my 3 ring circus down while in line behind us…I could feel his annoyance at my kids behavior and my lack of control. I finally blurted out I’m doing my best…I’m so sorry today is a very off day for all 4 of us! :) He just started laughing! :) I felt the tension release from my shoulders! At least he had humor! :)

    Here is a public thank you for the grace I experienced

    I’d like to thank the Walgreen employee that told my 2 year old in the middle of a mega fit while dropping his fleece and refusing to pick it up off the store floor that he knew a little puppy that would love my son’s fleece. My defiant and grumpy 2 year old was caught off guard and quickly picked up his fleece and stopped his mega fit. The Walgreens guy was my hero that day he offered a distraction and called my 2 year olds bluff! ! I winked and whispered thank you! :)

    This parenting thing is amazingly precious and terribly hard! :)

    ~ Ali

  9. Sue February 14, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    I am sorry that you had to go through this and also thank you for sharing. It made me check myself and a good reminder to be a better friend to all the mothers out there.

    People also seem to have no respect/regards to parents of 1 child. I get so tired of being asked when I’ll have another child, my daughter needs a sibling, she’s getting too big, so we need to hurry up and have another child. And the suggestions go on, and on and on……….. We all need to be considerate and put ourselves in the other person’s shoe.

  10. Susana of Montessoricandy.blogspot.com February 14, 2012 at 9:25 pm #

    God Bless you! We had 4 boys in a row, and then two girls in a row. We’ve got 6 kids total ages 9 ,8, 7, 5, 3, and 1. Some people can be so nice, others just stare or say stupid things. I am so done with it though, and I can’t stand for my kids to hear some of the dumb comments. The other day a guy told me, “WE can ONLY handle 2, we don’t want anymore!” (As if I had asked him!), to which I said, “Wow! I’m so sorry your kids are THAT bad that you don’t want anymore!” ;) and I walked away and left him with his mouth wide open. I usually just smile or say, “They are such a blessing”, but sometimes the naughty side comes out and I get a good giggle out of saying something back! ;) Just know, you’re not alone, and none of us are perfect! I am trying my best, Lord knows, and also asking God to help me some days doesn’t hurt either! :) Take Care!

  11. Ali T February 14, 2012 at 9:28 pm #

    THANK YOU. I needed this today!

  12. Naomi Lewis February 14, 2012 at 9:54 pm #

    I so appreciate your post and I’m sorry to hear of sweater lady’s poor manners. I am up feeding our fourth sweet little one, Gentry–just 11days old!–and we have two other dear daughters, ages 4 and 3, and a happy little guy, age 18 months. You and many other mothers can imagine the comments we have received–from the usual to one man who approached me while filling up our SUV and exclaimed (sincerely, unfortunately!) that the cost of gas ought to teach us not to have so many children…! (As if the cost of gas is the great expense!) The bottom line is that we (as with so many families) love our children. We think they are worthwhile, and have chosen to spend ourselves in raising them because they are valuable. I am afraid that our culture is increasingly devaluing these little ones, but to us their care and instruction is one of the greatest–and hardest–things we are called to do. I have also experienced sincere kindness and thoughtfulness from strangers–everything from a thoughtful word to returning my shopping cart for me, to holding the door for our double stroller. I hope and intend to extend the same graciousness to others as often as I may. Blessings to you and your sweet family, and keep up the good work.

  13. Rachel February 15, 2012 at 12:06 am #

    Your post brings tears to my eyes because I have three young girls and I often have very similar experiences. It is all so worth it and I love my girls dearly, but I do get so weary of all the naysayers and “well meaning” folks. If I had a dime for every time I hear “boy you sure have your hands full!” I would be a very rich lady! And the comment “three girls, wow, guess you didn’t get your boy!” I love my girls thankyouverymuch! I am thankful for my children and I would have been just as happy with boys. Ugh, and all those looks when one of the children isn’t behaving perfectly! It’s like some people expect you to stay home until your children reach the age of 12 and then they will be permitted to go out in public. I applaud all mothers out there, whether you have one child or many children. Motherhood is hard work! At the same time it is very rewarding, though. Hurray for moms, I think I’ll go call my mom and thank her! :)

  14. jackie February 15, 2012 at 1:44 am #

    Thank you so much for sharing this. I love your honestly, your humility and your Godly perspective. I really needed to hear that other people struggle with this thing called motherhood at times too. I love being a mom, I think it is the best thing I have ever accomplished and I know God blessed me by giving me my sweet little girl right when He did but there are days that I am exhausted and wonder if I’m really cut out for the job. I see so many other moms who seem so amazing at what they do and it makes me question if I’m good enough. My husband is deployed right now. I never complain about this, often I never even tell people he is deployed. He is making the biggest sacrifice and I just feel blessed that he is working so hard for our family. But sometimes when I’m in a store and my girl is crying and people give me the kind of rude comments and looks that “pink sweater lady” gave you I am just stretched to my limit. I just want to tell them I don’t have an option to have my husband watch her on weekends and I’m stationed on an island far away from family who can watch her for an hour when I need a break. I’m doing the best I can at being a 24/7 mom for Pete sake! LOL Anyway, sorry to rant. Needless to say, I can relate to you and I am so thankful you shared this post. After the day I have had I really needed to read this. I know you are a wonderful talented mother and even though I have never met you personally I can confidently say that I know you are the mother and wife God recognizes in Proverbs 31. Keep up the good work girl!

  15. Ess February 15, 2012 at 2:15 am #

    I have loved dropping into your site and at times have wondered how you achieved so much and with such style. Whilst I don’t relish your distress I have to confess to feeling grateful that you shared your difficult day with Blogland.

    My husband is currently deployed for 6 months (we’re about halfway) and I moved house interstate so that my children could start the academic year in the ‘new’ posting before he returns. It’s all been about starting schools, making friends (all of us) and trying to improve our shabby old cottage, which had been rented out for 6 years.

    This has been challenging but rewarding…yet on some days I have felt like lying down on the floor and going to sleep until it was all over!

    Thank you for your commitment to your family, to blogging and to sharing. It meant a lot to me last night.

    Ess

  16. rashidah February 15, 2012 at 3:47 am #

    dear emily,

    1st of all, mind me for my english as i come from malaysia n english is not my mother-tongue. i adore u so much n thanks to u, ur story enlighten me about motherhood.. i almost give up with parenting. i had 2 boys (4 & 3 yrs old) which i had when i was 22. being young mother really challnge me as i still have the urge to have fun n do things i still havent achieve.. i put aside my interest in pursuing research studies, my hobbies n my job as well just bcos i tot i want to raise them myself. but in the end, it didnt quit turn on well,.. they really push my buttons, n sometimes i could find the answer why did god give them to me. but of cos, I LOVE THEM. just when things like this happen, i started to questions when i believe i should pray that god give me more strength.

    ur statement from the “speaker”, really hit me. yes, i certainly can be complete w/out them but when they are not around, my life will get totally mess up..

    now n then i felt the same way as u when we faced those challenging moments of lunch time at the restaurant, the weiling, the catch-me-if-u-can thing, n more. but seriously, god has directed me to read this thread n found that im not all alone and have found the answer.

    thanks n all the best!

  17. Emily February 15, 2012 at 5:44 am #

    Thank you for much for sharing your heart and this situation. It was just what I needed. I am a mommy to two with our 3rd on the way and most days I question how I am going to do this. My husband has been gone all week on business and we have had some seriously trying days. Just last night I called him in tears after our 5 year old threw a truly ugly fit at the grocery and then yelled he didn’t like me right now. I held his and my daughters hand and quickly walked to the checkout with my head hung as people just stared us down the whole way. We got in the car, I talked to him about his behavior and how I want people to see him for he sweet oy I know he is. That’s life. We will have those moments and our fair share of them. Thankfully there are other mommys that have been there and can encourage you on. Thanks again for sharing your heart!

  18. Carrie February 15, 2012 at 6:33 am #

    You know, I almost wrote this the other day. I have 3 boys. Rowdy, wild, restless, loving, smart, rambuctious, raw, energentic, sweet boys. I would not give them up for a thing in this world. Including a girl. I’d love to have 1 more baby (hubs is against it 100%). But you know what? If it were 4 boys, I would be ok with THAT. I love them. I cherish them. They exasperate me, tire me, frustrate me and love me. God knew what he was doing when he gave them to ME. I hate when people say “bless your heart” or “you were trying for that girl, weren’t you?” Actually no. I wasn’t trying any of the times God gave them to me. I’m just that lucky. And that’s what I tell them.

    You’re doing great. Who cares what anyone thinks?!? Enjoy them. Love them. Laugh with them and at their antics. Embrace the chaos and to heck with anyone that doesn’t get it. THEY’RE missing out.

  19. lynne February 15, 2012 at 7:12 am #

    Emily, I am also a mother of 4 children. They are all grown and all married. Three of them have children of their own. I have been able to help all of them (even my daughter-in-law) when they had their babies. I have complete respect and reverence for young mothers. It is a lot of work, but so worth every moment. Our children are everything to us. I had so many moments like you described. Now I can laugh about it ,but at the time, “Whew” !! You are doing a great job. I can tell because you want such good things for your children. God bless you in your efforts.

  20. Dana February 15, 2012 at 7:53 am #

    Thank you Emily for sharing this. I don’t currently have children, but my husband and I would like a big family of 3-4 children like you. Your words have encouraged me and I appreciate you for that. I read your blog because you are human. You are extremely creative and talented, but you are a Christian, wife, mother and entrepreneur all wrapped up into one and you are human. You show us who you really are, faults and all. That motivates me. And we all need encouragement and motivation from each other to get through this thing called life. May God bless you and your family :)

  21. Anna @ Take the Side Street February 15, 2012 at 9:56 am #

    AMAZING. Love this. It looks like many, many, people have said it all so I’m just saying that. Thanks for this, I definitely needed it. XO

  22. Caroline February 15, 2012 at 10:22 am #

    Oh how I get it! I too am a mother of four – two girls and two boys. I too have my children with me most of the time. Yes, it is hard. Yes, it is exhausting. Yes, it would be easier to drive through that drive-through or stock my freezer with frozen pizzas. Yes, it would be easier to leave those pants unironed or that bed unmade. But I don’t…I love being a mother to four precious little ones. I wouldn’t trade it for anything, but it is hard and everyone you meet seems to have a comment to share. I try to just smile. When it is just the boys and the baby and people comment on my having my hands full, the boys love to tell them that there is one more and she is at school. I love it when they do that because yes my hands are full but they are full of gifts from God. What a blessing to be a mother of four precious healthy little ones. You are amazing and I hope you know it!

  23. Becky G. February 15, 2012 at 11:11 am #

    As I sit here with tears running down my face I literally feel as though you just read a day in the life of me and my 4 children! The one change would be 3 girls and one boy. I too often get the “wow you’re brave” and “I see you finally got your boy” comments. Hello people if I’d birthed puppies I’d love them the same no matter boy or girl! I love my family of 6 and wouldn’t change a thing! Thank you for this post. “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God” Phil. 4:6

  24. Kim February 15, 2012 at 11:46 am #

    Thanks you so much for sharing your heart. It was like I was reading my own journal ( except we have 2 boys , 2 and 4 with baby boy # 3 on the way ).
    You are an inspiration to many and a great mom, I’m sure. Keep up the good work!

  25. Deb Bartlett February 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    I have 2 children…wish I had more. Then I could have more grandbabies. If I had known how much fun grandbabies are, I would have had them first!!

    You are a beautiful, loving momma…enjoy them now…they grow too fast! Bless!

  26. Vicki February 15, 2012 at 1:46 pm #

    What a good reminder of how important our words are!!!!!
    I might have been a pink sweatered lady before. Mind you, never with a tone (always with a big smile) but just making mindless (and now I realize, stupid) conversation in line.
    As parents of three girls we were asked often if Harrison didn’t want a son (to carry on name watch football) but fortunately he would say, from the moment I walk in the door I feel like a king in my household why would I want someone to compete with and laugh it off.
    Of those girls, we have a set of twins and there lay the most ground for hurt from other people. They would swarm the stroller and say how cute they were while my 4 y.o. just stood. there. We

  27. Vicki February 15, 2012 at 2:23 pm #

    OOPS! HIT SUBMIT BY ACCIDENT. ha ha
    As I was saying, we would quickly say we have 3 cute girls. Often when people wanted to know about the twins we got Taylor to tell about them so she would be an active part.
    The twins are very different. One is blonde, blue-eyed dancer who loves to read, sew and do crafts. Did play rec league sports in grammar school years but always preferred dance. The other is very tall, brown curly hair, brown-eyed outdoors girl who loves all sports but mainly anything that involved a ball growing up and moved from one sport to another year around. As you can see not only did they look different but had different interest. We considered this a blessing. They compared/competed enough with school grades and such. BUT when they were small MANY people would tell them they were different as NIGHT and DAY. Sounds harmless enough huh?!? Well it caused us much upheaval many times because they wanted to know for years who was NIGHT and who was DAY, as if one was sunshine and light and the other one was dark and scary! That was a tough one!
    I say all this to say-
    Sounds like a hard time Emily. You are a wonderful Mom. Thanks for the reminder to be thoughtful in my words….. I do get the door. I do have many smiles, but gosh do I always say smart/edifying things? I just not sure. I will think on some especially encouraging words for you young MOMS. Y’all sure deserve it.

  28. Terri M February 15, 2012 at 3:10 pm #

    People can be so insensitive–and just plain stupid sometimes. My parents had 7 girls and then 1 boy. They had always wanted 7 kids and were done and happy then. But they got a surprise a few years later and we have loved (and spoiled) him ever since. Nearly every time I explain our family dynamic to people, I have to answer the same question: did your parents keep trying for a boy? I think it is completely absurd. Besides, I have never really asked my parents about their intimate life and I really don’t want to think about it! Someone asked my friend the other day if her two boys had the same father (they do and look quite similar)! I guess some people are WAY more nervy than I could ever be. You are a great mother and you just remember that!

  29. Jamie February 15, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    Thank you for your post, I can totally relate to everything you just said. I have 3 kids, -my youngest are twin toddlers. My husband travels often, so (like a lot of moms) I don’t get a lot of time to myself. The only break I get during the day is when I’m going to the bathroom, -and even then someone may be screaming and pounding on the door.

    I’ve been *that* mom with *those* kids more than a few times, and it isn’t a good feeling – because I don’t want to be *that* mom. No one does. It isn’t a good feeling being judged, even if it is by a stranger. It’s too bad people can be so eager to judge someone by observing them for a matter of minutes. As you can see I’m a little worked up about this, after all, -I was *that* mother with *those kids* yesterday at Taco Del Mar. The woman behind me said(about the twins)”Those two are sure a handful, you are a brave woman.” When she realized there was a third child with me she then said, “You have three? Busy, busy! You must be really busy.” I just smiled, but I what I really wanted to say was, ‘Well, duh.”

    Anyway, after I left I was trying figure out why these comments bothered me so much, after all, I truly don’t think this woman was trying to be mean. I think these types of comments are hurtful because they validate what is obviously negative. Basically these comments are code for, “It sucks to be you.” What I wish she said was, “I know it’s hard isn’t is? But you’re doing a good job.”

  30. Kristin February 15, 2012 at 3:50 pm #

    Emily,

    I think you are doing a great job. As a mother of 4- (yep first 3 are boys, and the youngest is my girl) I can totally relate to everything in your post. I have heard it all from strangers out in public, and if truth be told, also from judgmental family members who think you are out to populate the world on your own. Everyone has their own opinion and only the smart, properly raised and empathetic ones know enough to keep it to themselves. It is hurtful of others, and the truth is, the comments and judgement most likely won’t stop. But how we react to those comments says more about us as a people than any harmful thing others may say. And it speaks more to who they are as a person, than what they are trying to judge you for.
    Like you, I took my children out to restaurants- even the fancy 4 star ones. Sure, we got some disdainful looks from other customers, and many times got seated at the back by the kitchen with other parents with small kids. But I can tell you one thing- my kids know how to act appropriately in public in all settings, and in all places. Getting them there was not always easy, but they got there. (Mine are now 23, 21, 18, & 16) I view parenting not as raising little kids, I view it as raising little adults- for that is the goal, isn’t is?! When it is time for them to spread their wings and leave the nest, they know how to manage themselves appropriately in life. They have empathy for others plights. They know how to think for themselves. They know when it is best to bite their tongue and not to judge others. Sure, they don’t always make the best choices, but they do know how to take responsibility for the choices they make.
    You are doing a fine job- relish all the chaos, take advantage of those learning opportunities to help your kids grow as individuals and for yourself to grow as well. If there is anything my kids have taught me is to have more patience and in the belief that “this too shall pass”. They grow up quickly and you’ll miss all the noise and chaos!

  31. Sue February 15, 2012 at 5:20 pm #

    I feel certain that you are a wonderful mom – you have such a sweet family and all this shines through on this blog. Being a parent is hard, but truly a blessing – sometimes people just don’t think before they open their mouth to speak. I sit all teary eyed this evening because I have had to take privileges away from my sweet teenage boy – and I mean he is sweet, kind, responsible, loving – adults always complimenting on what a nice young man he is – anyhoo…. his grades aren’t so hot right now and I had to come home and tell him, no TV, Xbox, and computer (unless for schoolwork) until the grades come up. Now that seems totally reasonable you say and it is, BUT he never gives us a moments trouble over anything – always home on time, makes good choices so taking those things away was like someone took a knife to my heart (you know, it hurt me more than it hurt him)and he wasn’t happy but within 20 minutes I could tell that he was no longer mad at me and he understands that he needs to refocus…but I know that I am so blessed. Some kids at his age are giving their parents MAJOR problems and they would trade some grades slipping for the troubles they are having with their teenagers. Hang in there Emily – you will look back on these precious years when they were so little and these occasions will be such sweet memories and you will wonder where did the time slip away to…. Thanks for the great post today! I love your blog!

  32. Taylor February 15, 2012 at 5:39 pm #

    Blessings on you sweet Emily! You are doing a job more eternally important than most on earth. You are making a difference; you are changing lives; you are modeling love and patience and grace and goodness; you are being the hands and feet of Jesus to your little ones! I have one kiddo and on many occasions I have had others tell me that he’d do better if he had a sibling, or ask when I’m going to have more, or how he’d be so much happier if he had a playmate. There are days when it takes all I have to not snap at them that I can’t have more thank you very much, and no, we’re not having more, and that he plays just fine by himself and doesn’t need another to entertain him. And, more than that I want to shout, he is enough! He is wanted and loved and a miracle among miracle children. Don’t judge me based on his behavior right this moment, don’t look at his disheveled head and comment that he needs a bath. Just look on us and encourage us; see what I see — the amazing, adventurous, exuberant dirt ball of joy that I am doing my best with. Head high sweet sister mama, head high.

  33. Christina February 15, 2012 at 5:49 pm #

    We are a foster family with five children…our children have special needs…and from time to time we are babysitting or helping someone out with their kids. Our children have medical or behavioral issues…and most of the time we are out by ourself with everyone trying to run errands…you should see the looks we get from people because we have children of every color with us typically. Then because they have special needs and some of them might cough a lot or have a body smell at times…or walk funny or talk funny…we get weird looks. It’s sad that people are sooo selfish with themselves that they can’t compliment…all they do is say, boy I couldn’t do that. Or that I’m a brave person for having so many kids with me. And yes..btw…most of them think that all of them are mine. You are doing a great job..and you are doing all you can and making memories for them is the best thing, feeding them healthy is the best thing..some people don’t ever get that. I hear all the time from parents with one or two kids that “this is all I can handle” and I wonder what the heck makes the rest of us unique? How come I can handle going grocery shopping with my kids…while I have to help babysit other kids so their parents can go shopping..I used to do this on a weekly basis for some..and they only had ONE kid! I’m really not crazy..I enjoy having fun with the kids and taking them to theme parks and movies and all sorts of events where they can learn. And we have a blast!

  34. Auntie! February 15, 2012 at 9:50 pm #

    I love you Emily. : )

  35. Andrea February 15, 2012 at 10:28 pm #

    As a mom of 3 boys, I completely hear you on this post! I have been in your situation countless times as well. I get to constantly hear in front of my sweet boys if I’m going to “try for a girl”. How do I do that exactly, I want to ask! I always wanted 4 kids, my husband wanted 2. We were going to stop at 2 and then our 3rd surprise came last year:) Did I want a daughter, yes very much for my last 2 pregnancies. But I would never in a million years trade one of my son’s for one! They have brought so much joy into my life and I think the brother bond is very special. I grew up with 1 brother and we were never close, I do think that siblings of the same sex often are very close. That said I sure would love to have a little girl someday. . . although I don’t think that will happen but I am leaving it up to God. . .

  36. Sarah February 16, 2012 at 6:20 am #

    Ahh, this is such a reality for me, as I sit here nearly 9 months pregnant, awaiting my 4th and final baby, my 4th boy. :) Can you imagine the looks of empathy I get when I’m out in public with my three little boys, and strangers ask what I’m having? After hearing that it’s another boy, I get that “look” & then most of the time, they say something like “oh, were you hoping for a girl?” Seriously people??? My response is that no, we were not trying for anything, but that we’re very excited to have a house full of boys! Would I have LOVED a daughter? Of course! But would I trade any of my amazing sons for one? Absolutely not! Cheers to all the big families out there, and especially to those with lots of, dare I say, crazy little boys!

  37. Jayme February 16, 2012 at 7:53 am #

    I was reading this blog post on Desiring God and thought of you. Hope it encourages you to continue to live the gospel.
    http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/motherhood-is-a-calling-and-where-your-children-rank

  38. shelley February 16, 2012 at 8:45 am #

    Emily ~ You would blend right in here in Farmington, Utah :)
    There are a ton of kids in my area.
    My neighbor kiddie corner? …. 8 kids, The neighbor across the street -5 Next to her, 4. Behind me, 5. The kindergartener I pick up for carpool with my daughter is having baby #5.
    I have 2 children, but the Lord and I are good! haha :)

  39. elizabeth February 16, 2012 at 9:27 am #

    my ‘babies’ are 18, 16 and almost 14 and it’s been really hard. really great but really hard, too. I recently found this blog post and I soooo wish I had something like this to read when mine were all younger and we were moving to yet another new state without any family for help and making new friends.

    hopefully you’ll find something in it, too –

    http://momastery.com/blog/2012/01/04/2011-lesson-2-dont-carpe-diem/

  40. Pam Todd February 16, 2012 at 12:00 pm #

    I hope I’ve never been that woman in pink, but most likely have chosen wrong words in the moment. It’s impossible, try as you might, to always empathize perfectly. And, sometimes a comment seems judgmental to the person receiving it when it wasn’t meant that way. I work with a lady who is frequently offended by remarks. I hear the same things at the same time and don’t understand why they hurt her feelings, when what I’m hearing comes across entirely differently. Sometimes someone just is having a bad day and what they say comes out harsher than they realize or they say things they think is helpful or kind that end up being perceived in exactly the opposite way. But your comments do remind me of those days with my 3 little ones (so long ago!) and I’ll do my best everyday to observe the wonderful Golden Rule.

  41. Lauren February 16, 2012 at 2:18 pm #

    I think everyone here has sympathized with you, and though I only have too, I sympathize too! I have one of each, so I often hear how we ‘must be done since we have the perfect family, don’t mess with it’… anyway, just wanted to say, i appreciate your honesty, and think you are an amazing mom ;-)

  42. Holly February 16, 2012 at 3:43 pm #

    I just read your post. I have 4 children – 3 boys and a girl as the youngest too. I totally understand everything you wrote so well in this post. If I had a dollar for every time I heard – you got your girl, you have your hands full, you’re brave, are all these kids yours? – I’d be rich. One time we were at church and #3 was being terrible. The other kids were squirmy too. Instead of leaving the church, we remained for the rest of the time, all the while corralling the misbehaving one. After church an old grumpy-looking man started to approach us, and I braced myself to hear what terrible parents we were. He told us that he just wanted to compliment us on dealing with our child and that we were doing the right thing. That meant so much to me. Keep up the good work with your beautiful family!

  43. missy February 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    Well said. Thanks. I may print of copies of this and hand it to the pink sweater ladies that I run into from time to time.

  44. Jennifer February 16, 2012 at 7:58 pm #

    I did it. I commented earlier that I might. Now my children will know…
    http://thephillipsyjournals.blogspot.com/2012/02/thoughts-on-three.html
    Best
    Jennifer

  45. Cassie February 16, 2012 at 8:30 pm #

    Thanks for your honesty. You are not alone. I have 6 and parenting is the most humble thing ever. I am on a mission when I shop alone (which is rare) to find and minister to the struggling mom of little ones. With day schools, it seems rare to even see moms shopping with more than 2. Guess that’s why I get so many stares with 6 tagging along. If I had a dollar for every time I heard “You sure have your hands full….” Doesn’t matter how angelic or demonic my kids are acting…the comment is always the same. One day I’ll have a great, witty come back. I’m tempted to tell them I just can’t keep my hands off my husband. :)

    So thank you for sharing the truth about our difficult yet so rewarding job. Too often we candy-coat it in the blog world. Enjoy these years. They’ll be gone before we know it.

  46. Mallory February 16, 2012 at 8:40 pm #

    Bravo. I am a mother of four (twin boys, and 2 girls) and I got the “finally got your girl” comment countless times. You have to know that you ARE Doing area job, and your thesis of helping and encouraging other mothers has made me think. I will put that into practice. Keep up the good work.

  47. Mandi February 16, 2012 at 9:26 pm #

    From the number of comments, you clearly spoke the minds of many moms out there. I would like to thank you for what you wrote, as I have faced some harsh criticism from a former friend this week on my choices as a mother. I love my three boys (no girl here) more than life, and when someone suggested that I do not enjoy being a mom and make poor choices, the hurt ran very deep. Even the disapproving eye of a stranger can hurt, as you so sptly pointed out. I think we all would be so much better served to remember to build one another up as parents instead of tearing each other down.

  48. Tracy February 16, 2012 at 9:37 pm #

    This was such an uplifting post! I had a similar experience with my kiddos today and it’s just nice to know that other moms have the same struggles. Makes me want to be more intentional about encouraging other moms going through those “tough moments” with their kids. Thanks for being real and transparent with your feelings!

  49. Holly February 16, 2012 at 10:22 pm #

    I am a stay-at-home mommy of three, ages, 5, 3, and 16 months (oldest and youngest are boys). My family (mom and sisters) are pretty anti-kid and think I’m at home doing nothing and that I am obviously not smart or motivated or I would have a “job” instead! So when I’m out at the store and people say “You’re brave!” or “Wow, looks like you have your hands full!”, I always think it’s a compliment! I’m always thinking, “Why thank you for noticing what hard job this is, unlike my family who thinks I’m opting out of the hard stuff!”

    I think I have said “Looks like you have your hands full!” to other people too…meaning, “Wow, what a hard worker you are! I’m so proud of you!” Hopefully I haven’t offended anyone– I had no idea other people didn’t like hearing this!

    I am so impressed whenever I see mommies of four out– I always wanted 4 but we have had such difficult pregnancies I don’t think we will be able to do it again.

    I am so proud of all you mommies for doing the hard work and raising your kids even though it’s unpopular (especially in Seattle, where we live…people look at our three kids here like they have never seen little people before and have no idea what we are doing with “so many”).

  50. Laura February 17, 2012 at 8:40 am #

    This is a really amazing post that sums up how I feel to a T most days. It’s so refreshing to hear I’m not the only one that has these feelings. And you are right, we are all guilty of judging at times and it’s a good wake up call. Thanks for sharing!

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