Often people are amazed at my family. Why? Because I have five children. Yeah. I said five. They range in age from eighteen down to one.
The Kids, in Order.
My oldest, Kayla, was born when I was only seventeen (and a half). She was a surprise and definitely complicated my senior year of high school. Brendan, the first boy, was planned. Why? I’m not sure. We were young, struggling with each other and to pay the bills. I think I was hoping he would be the gift that would draw us together (that’s how a 20 year old thinks). Stupid. I know that now. Nonetheless, he was a gift. He didn’t help or hurt the relationship. He did come at a time when we were starting to get our act together. Shortly after Bren was born, I was able to be a stay at home mom. We also bought our first house and our first new-to-us car.
With all of that good stuff, our relationship still had problems. I had reached my final straw with Randy. Some how (thank ya, Jesus), we managed to come back together and work towards (and achieve) a truly wonderful marriage.We were finally on a path to success. Our finances were finally on track, his job was on track, our relationship was on track, our spirituality was on track, and, we were finally mature enough to be the parents we should have been all along. We wanted to pull us together as a family. Sort of like the cherry on the sundae. We wanted another, and last, baby. We tried for 5 months and finally, we were pregnant with Emily. She was amazing. Our story was finally developing into a happy one.
All babies have their issues, but overall, they were wonderful and amazing babies. So far, amazing kids, too.
If Randy were still living, I’d be standing at a count of three. That didn’t happen. I met someone else, Tim, and several years later we were married. I started and finished college with a BA. It was time to put school on hold before continuing on. It was time for a baby. Tim didn’t have any children of his own. He wanted me to decide when and how many children we had. I didn’t think he would ever want to have any. I had three and he considered those his. Most men, would be more than fine with that. And, he was. He said he loved those kids and if we never had kids together, he would be okay. Just like Randy and I wanted to do, Tim and I wanted to have a living expression of our love.We wanted a child together. So, when the older three were sixteen, thirteen, and eight, Nora joined our family.
Eleanora (Nora) was born with two ecstatic sisters and one brother. Her daddy, over the moon! She cried often and smiled sometimes. She was demanding and serious, but miles ahead in all areas of development (except size, she’s a tiny thing).
About 16 months later, while practicing ‘whatever happens, happens’ method, I discovered I was pregnant again. I wasn’t so sure this time. Four was a lot and I just wasn’t sure how all this would work out. A baby is a baby and there is no greater miracle. I only hoped this one would be a little less demanding than Miss Nora. Cason was born just shy of 2 years after Nora. Thank goodness, my prayers were answered. He was a fantastic baby.
There are a lot of things you don’t hear from other mothers or experts. Like, no one tells you how hard breastfeeding can really be! No one tells you that having a newborn, fluid coming from several places, and no sleep can leave you feeling on edge and lonely! No one tells you that you will have to say things like, “Quit rubbing that peanut butter and jelly sandwich in your hair,” or the words “Why would you drink someone else’s medicine?” No one prepares you to talk about periods and erections. No one explained to me that I would have to teach them how to be a human being.
There is nothing more fascinating to me than watching the little pieces of their personalities and intelligence develop, often faster than I can process. It has been so amazing. One day, so it seems, they are drawing a circle with dots and calling it a face. The next, they are learning calculus and picking out colleges. It really feels that fast!
I have enjoyed every second (well, almost!) of every child’s story. The single most amazing part of their story is the moment I realized they are developing their own story! I can tell them how to do things while encouraging their independence, but the moment I notice they have their own ideas solidifies the process for me. It’s working.
I can remember all of their ‘my own story moments’, but will spare you the boredom. I will share Emily’s because she is the last one to reach this point (so far). She was always bugging me to eat lunch with her at school. I couldn’t usually do it because I was in college at the time. If I wasn’t at school, I was trying to get homework done because having three older children and being in college isn’t exactly easy. One day, I surprised her. I knew she would be happy. She bought lunch that day. She sat down at the table with her tray.
“Emily, don’t they have two lunch options?”
“Yeah.” she answered with a confused look on her face.
“Didn’t you like the other option? I know you don’t like that soup. It’s tomato.”
She had the sweetest look on her face as if she was thinking how silly I was. “Yes I do. I love tomato soup. I love to dip my grilled cheese in it. Geez, Mom. Where have you been?”
Well, there ya go, she had her own brain and had likes and dislikes different than me, Tim, and her siblings. She, was her own person.
They all continue to surprise me with how many of our ‘lessons’ we teach that they seem to just blow off. Years later, I am noticing in our older children, those lessons, actually stuck like glue and they have adopted them as their own. When I call them out on how much they used to hate that rule or seemed to ignore this rule, they laugh. They hadn’t even realized we finally agreed. And then there are other things that I watch and think, ‘Where in the world did that come from and why?’
Just proof, and it’s wonderful, that they are their own people. I gave them the slate and the instructions, but they are writing the story.