This is the third part of the series on the struggle is real.
This time it is with our matching socks.
The shouts of ‘hurry up’ and ‘lets go’ could be heard around the house. That familiar picture of herding ‘cats’ into the car. Sunglasses are lost, shoes on the wrong feet and with Noah generally dressing himself so you can be sure he is missing pants. This is always checked. All the while I am trying to avoid Glen’s stare by putting on that load of washing before we leave or grab whatever dishes I can and put them into the dishwasher. I am always thinking ahead to coming home and he is always asking the same question ‘What the heck are you doing!!’
Someone is always in tears at some point at the buckling in stage and not everyone gets the seat they want! Extra clothes must be packed and of course the snacks and juice, the bucket of suncream and jumpers well – just in case!
Truthfully for along time the feeling of envy and not being good enough was so strong in my heart for those who seemed to do this parenting well and have it all together, so play dates and Facebook were avoided I believed I was the only one who felt this crazy. My story was never coffee in the back garden with the kids splashing in the pool at my side, its more like coffee being reheated three times because of getting those who cannot/ will not dress themselves, mopping up that spilt juice of the counter for the tenth time and making sure everyone was fed with something other than Poptarts. Beds are never made until they are getting back into them and baths are only at an acceptable level. Even a 6am start still means its 10am before the paddling pool is dragged from the garage and by that time its filled its cold and the kids have given up and now everyone is crying for the play station to be turned on.
Wine at 10.30am? Tempting!
I have learned over these last ten years how to breathe deeply and by the grace of God I am learning to love and in the midst of chaos I try to embrace whatever is next.
Nothing is perfect, nor should it be. If it was perfect, it would be a lie. We are quick to laugh, even quicker to forgive, we truly thank Jesus on a regular basis for the little things. We celebrate almost anything and everything. We make sure dancing in the kitchen is provided, we love well with hugs that are so tight and we only require doing our best. So our kids don’t get their own room with matching bunting or the extra ride on the dodgems. They don’t get swimming lessons or pony rides, five means more. Everything has to be fair but everything has to be sacrificial and with this I see them growing into kind kids, slowly but its there. I get smart in the chip shop always working out the best combination for meals. What can we half, what will everyone eat and going to a restaurant generally doesn’t happen because it normally looks like this and truthfully I could feed us all and our street for what we would pay in soft drinks.
But we do make sure each of them has one to one coffees and dinners with one of us. Constantly ensuring they are treated as individuals but also them knowing this is their tribe and we all need each other.
A total of thirty oranges are bought a week, the same in apples. A multi pack of crisps will last three days and a sixteen pack of toilet roll a week. Don’t get me started on yogurts and cookies. Clothes are bought on a monthly basis and it is on a rota system, there are hand me downs and sometimes even hand me ups. Life is never dull.
We didn’t have five kids because we knew we could afford them we had them because we knew we could love relentlessly and we trusted in our capacity rather than our wallet.
I know each of them love our big family, they tell me that without coercion, they love that at every play, every dance festival, every achievement there are 6 other people cheering them on and they are proud, so proud of each other. You can see the love for each other so tangibly that brings joy to this weary soul.
I have to put on a wash every day or dirty clothes will reign and the dishwasher is on daily and I think about cooking dinner as soon as I have finished putting the last dish away at lunch. If you call at our house during the day you will never get an undivided attention but you will be welcome, oh so welcome and treated just like one of the family.
Abigail on her sixth birthday asked for one thing – Matching socks. I remember the conversation like yesterday. The struggle is real and sometimes we all want matching socks but where is the fun in that!