Monthly Archives: August 2013

Family Update

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What’s new, Tonia?
Well, lemme tell ya, it’s been a BUSY last few months. As opposed to the way my life TYPICALLY is,which usually entails of sitting poolside eating bonbons, sipping a daquiri while my children nap 11 hours a day.
Yeah. Right.
Anyway, we’ll start with The Littles. youngest to Oldest. Which is exactly how we do things in this house. Much to my oldest sons chagrin. Whatever. I just always remind him he will be the very first to get to move out so it comes back around.
Blaze. Blaze turned 1 year old on August 3rd. Not a huge hoopla. You always throw a huge hoopla with your first childs first birthday. But you wise up after you’ve popped out a few because thats when you realize the first birthday is not a big deal in any way except for the parents to high five and say “Yay! we survived without killing the baby, each other or ourselves!”
So, I bakes a giant cupcake as big as my son and plopped it in front of him, stuck a #1 candle in it’s top and we all sang Happy Birthday to him. He spent a solid 30 minutes stuffing chocolate in his face until he was in a diabetes delirium. His brothers ate regular sized cupcakes and then each of them gave him one of their old toys as a gift. (A family tradition and a great lesson in recycling) Chris and I got him a 4 wheeler. (No not a REAL one, you spazzoids, so calm yourselves.) Successful day. Blazes father didn’t get him crap. Not even a simple card in the mail. He wasn’t missed. Blaze keeps getting chubbier and chubbier every day. I have a hunch he has a secret stash of cookies somewhere. But I have no proof yet. The only evidence is the fact he now is the proud owner of 4 chins. Suspicious I tell ya.
He refuses to walk. I say refuses because I know he has the ABILITY. He acts like he can’t. But I have seen him twice today snatch up a cat and hug it violently to him while chewing on its ear and standing totally up on his own with no assistance. So, he CAN, he just won’t. Because he isn’t stupid. Being carried around everywhere makes life alot easier. It’s fact.
Drezdyn is 4 now. Which means he is this very awesome blend of hilarity and infuriating frustration. He throws some real solid tantrums. He likes the word no. He is still struggling with sleeping through the night and ends up in our room almost every night. He loves cheesy scrambly eggs and apples. He loves Family guy and He Man. Oh man does he have a serious hardcore infatuation with HeMan. He told me yesterday that if the baby is a boy I need to name it HeMan. If it’s a girl I should name it Girl HeMan. Duly noted, son. He says things on an hourly basis that crack me up. Yesterday he put on a pair of my underwear and danced around my room in them. He’s lucky i’m not the kind of mom to take pictures of stuff like that. Instead I tell everyone about it on my public blog.
Creed is 6 now. Kindergarten now. Home school. He’s been diligently working on his letters. He gets frustrated with it but at this point, it’s old hat for me. I’ve been through this with his 3 older brothers. I myself was reading and writing by age 2 1/2 so I used to worry that something was wrong with my boys that they took a bit longer to figure out this reading/writing gig. I don’t worry now. My oldest son couldnt read at all until he was 7. He now devours Harry Potter books like food. So, Creed will get there. I know this. I am actually more worried with his psychological issues. I can’t pinpoint what it is yet, and I am not one to turn to doctors unless it is a true medical crisis. Which it isn’t. But have you ever had that moment as a parent where you just know “something” is off? Yeah. This is what that is. He has rage and anger issues. He is very socially awkward. He is very impulsive.He has alot of specific sensory issues. the possibilities are so overwhelming at times. ODD, SPD, ADHD, Aspergers, etc etc…. I spend time every day online reading up on different childhood disorders and learning all I can. Not because I believe in labels, but because I want desperately to be able to understand him and what he is going through so I can help him.
Bailey. Bailey has done a lot of growing up recently. I think a lot of that has to do with the fact some major stressors have been removed from our home. He has always been my most sensitive child. He used to get nosebleeds out of the blue on an almost daily basis. It dawned on me last night that I cannot recall the last time he got a nosebleed. He has found much more self-assurance and become far more responsible and helpful. He has recently discovered a passion for music and is continually coming to me asking me to burn him new cd’s. Which he plays at full volume in his bedroom and lip syncs and dances to. Awesome.
Aidan. Oh man has Aidan taken some HUGE steps in maturity this summer. This boy has had issues with anger and cussing and tantrums his entire life. I use to have to hold him in my arms and restrain him from hurting others. He used to throw punches at me and call me names. He has taken huge leaps and bounds in his anger managemnet skills and coping skills. A lot of that has to do with Chris taking the time to TALK to him and set that example of how a man deals with strong emotions. Aidan has been a big help with the baby. Blazes first word was “Aidan.” And with very good reason. It’s sweet. He wil make a great dad someday.
Zane. Zane will be 13 next February. This means he basically knows everything and I clearly know nothing.He can debate anyone. It drives me nuts but I am also very proud that he thinks for himself, questions everything and challenges others. His artistic talents have grown impressively recently. He is in 6th grade now. I recently came to the realization that he has aspergers. in retrospect, it was SO obvious that I cannot believe I took this long to realize it. It was a couple months ago, in my research for Creeds issues that I came across an aspergers support group and began reading about the symptoms and my brain went “Oh my GOD. This is Zane!” It was a really nice light bulb moment because now some of his little idiosyncrasies are easier to understand and work with. So, we are learning techniques to help him and taking it day by day.
Me? I’m 8 weeks pregnant now. And scared to death. I’ve lost 4 babies at 8 weeks. The last one I lost I squatted in my bathtub because I couldn’t bear the thought of flushing my baby down the toilet. Squatted and passed my baby in its sac into the palm of my hand. Squatted there crying while I watched my baby do a flip in the sac, then cease to move at all. Broke my heart. I’m terrified of going into my ultrasound appointment, laying on that bed, and being told there is no heartbeat. Anyone who has lost a baby through miscarriage knows how it is. To get pregnant again. Every twinge of a possibility of a cramp, every time you wipe you look for blood on the toilet paper. I already love this baby deeply and truly. Being a mother is a blend of worry and love. Always.
Life is good. God is great. My cup runneth over. I am too blessed to be stressed.
Every every day.

Residing In The Land Of Testosterone

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As I navigate the waters through this first trimester, my mind keeps wandering into uncharted territory. I find myself contemplating how life would  be if I was carrying a daughter. Not only how My life would change, in all of its familear dynamics and well-beaten paths, but what exactly we  as a family have to offer a girl. 

Yes. I’m a girl. I realize that. But trust me, some days I feel like I am having to valiantly fight to proclaim that fact. In a house with 8 males, it can be hard at times to hold on to femininity. My delicate, pretty fairy knick knacks get smashed in the midst of wrestling tournaments. We watch ten billion sports-superhero-gory-action movies to my one sappy-sweet romance. My pretty tye dye dresses get stained with mud at the creek. My flowers outside get run over by scooters. My decorative, fancy towels are used to stop a bloody nose. Its pretty much a losing battle I’m fighting here. 

But I don’t give up. Because hell and high water I am DETERMINED to raise boys who have empathy and a little softness to their sharp edges. Boys who know how to work a washing machine and cook a mean lasagna. Boys who understand when a woman cries that she needs a hug and who are willing to sit through a sappy romance film as long as they find a girl cool enough to be willing to sit through an action film with them. I am stubbornly holding firm to the plan that these boys SHALL be gentelmen. Someday. 

And they are. When it counts. Like last summer when we went on vacation. the hotel we stayed at had a continental breakfast. I got my sons all set and served and then got back in line to get my waffles. I came back to find my boys awkwardly attempting to figure out how to eat their food while standing in a corner. A group of ladies were seated at our table. One of my sons told me “Those ladies needed a seat mom. There weren’t any more empty chairs.” I could have cried with pride. 

When Nana pulls up with bags in her backseat they all run out to carry stuff in for her. 

When Mommy has a headache they offer to make me a cup of coffee. 

When someone smaller wants to go down the slide at the park they step aside, and offer that child help. 

They have a whole lot of kindness and empathy. 

I remind myself of this in the moments of utter chaos. 

Because chaos DOES exist. 

In our home, we yell a lot. We argue. We debate. We get stubborn. We laugh loudly. Obnoxiously loudly. At the dinner table. We mess up beds with tickle fights and pillow fights  and wrestling matches. Our yard has more bikes and balls than flowers. The kitchen is always cluttered. Always. (Hey, you try cooking 3 meals a day plus snacks for 9 people every day and see how shiny spotless YOUR kitchen will be.) You might show up one day and think that its pretty loud and pretty chaotic. And you’d be right. But you might not stick around long enough to catch the contrasting moments. Those exist too. 

I might get frustrated at times, feeling like this is all an uphill battle that I can never possibly win. But the fact is, I couldn’t IMAGINE my life being any other way. Give me a house filled with noise and dirt and love any day over perfectly molded children with no personality. 

And if this baby is girl? Well, she will fit right in. No daughter of mine would  be anything less than the perfect blend of feminine and rough-and-tumble tomboy. 🙂 

Plus, she’s have 6 big brothers to protect her and defend her. 

Can’t beat that. 🙂  

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I didn’t watch the VMA’s. But after reading fifteen different versions of the same comment on Face Book about Miley Cyrus’ performance (all 15 comments basically said WTF and OMG), my curiousity was piqued so I strolled over to YouTube and found the video. Six minutes of my life I can never get back again. Ever. it took about 11 seconds before my brain started to boil in utter confusion. Her tongue flapping in the breeze like that made me a tad concerned she might be having a seizure. Seriously, I sorta wish I had filmed my reaction. My face basically looked like this :

Seriously, WHAT was she thinking?
Dear Lord, is this what we women have become/ We burned bras and rallied for the right to vote so that we could hump a foam finger on stage and dance provocatively in a teddy bear teddy? I mean seriously???
Her performance made me cringe for two reasons. One, because she represented musicians. I myself am a singer/songwriter. It always kills me when artists go a bit overboard with the shock level think. To me, it screams of their limited true talent. Gimme a chick any day on a stage with nothing but her voice and a piano or keyboard. Gimme Beth Hart, Tori Amos, Janis Joplin. Gimme heart and art and passion and raw talent. I have no interest in watching you rub your booty all over a married man while emotionless teddy bears prance around. Its not talent. Its just disturbing.
And two, it made me cringe because she essentially was representing the female race. Think of how many adolescent girls saw her performance last night. They sat there and thought to themselves “Hey, I can do that. Thats whats cool, whats hot, what men think is sexy.” We as women, meanwhile, grown-ass women are standing up yelling at our tv’s “For the LOVE OF GOD go put some freaking CLOTHES on and quit humping that foam finger!!!!” She didnt do us any favors. She bought right into the Hollywood industry, and the porn industry, and any other industry that likes to make women into these mindless sex objects and nothing more. The weight of value is always measured by the size of boobs or the lack of clothes or how well we can grind on things.
Sigh.
How about this for a swell idea. How about we start finding a different breed of women sexy? How about we take notice of the strong, independent single mother who raises respectful kids by herself and bakes a mean banana bread and call HER hot? Or that 19 year old who works her ass off in college and spends her spare time volunteering at a local soup kitchen ? THAT is a sexy woman right there. Or a woman who stands for what she believes in, even if she stands alone. The one who fights for equal rights in the workplace because she works just as hard as her male co workers and knows she deserves better pay. The one who battles addiction and fights like hell and WINS because her daughters mean more to her than one more high. Or the one who keeps a smile on her face and works at making others feel better, even while dealing with a debilitating illness that causes her chronic pain. THOSE are the epitome of sexiness in MY opinion. That is what being a sexy, sensual, strong woman is all about.
Frankly, it has nothing to do with any of the crap in the video above. All I can think is someday, twenty or thirty years from now Miley Cyrus is going to sit down and watch that video. One can only hope she has a TAD more class by that point.
And here’s a music video to erase the above one outta your mind. This happens to be one of my favorite singers. My favorite song by her. She’s a lil raw, a lil rough around the edges, but she’s sexy in a way that has zero to do with giant teddy bears and foam fingers being used in awkward sexual ways.
You’re welcome.

Times’, They Are A’Changin’

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I became a mother 2 weeks shy of my 21st birthday. My firstborn spent 9 days in the NICU, learning to breathe and eat on his own and battling jaundice while sporting a very groovy pair of sunglasses while tanning beneath a strange UV lamp of some sort. Once he was home, and in my possession without the beeping monitors and machines and nurses….oh man I went hogwild. 

(I’m not very certain what “hogwild” actually entails. Look, I’ve been living in the South going on 7 1/2 years now. Sometimes stuff just comes out.) 

Anyway, I was put in charge of raising this teensy, scrawny little red headed child. Which resulted in my stress-o-meter going right off the charts. 

Charts you say? Oh yeah, I had ’em. Kept dutiful track of how many times a day my precious angel pooped and peed. Wrote down how many ounces he drank and how much solid food he ate each day. Organized the damn baby food jars on the shelves so as to ensure he never had to repeat the same flavor of pureed mush more than once in a four day period. He never got dirty. I propped him in his highchair at age 1 and began flash cards and arts and crafts and reading time and playdough and maybe even Greek and algebra. I did this EVERY DAY. I took him on nature strolls through the neighborhood. He wore name brand clothes. We took him to museums. Art shows. His hair was always combed neatly to the side. He didn’t have a tv in his bedroom. I swore to make no mistakes with him ever ever ever not EVER. 

Then his brother was born. And I put a tv in their bedroom. And I learned that children can play by themselves at times without being under my feet constantly. But I still did weird stuff like keep track of bowel movements and dress them in matching outfits. In fact, that matching outfit crap? I did that when I had 3 kids too. By the time I had 4 kids I was desiring for them to learn some independence. But not too much. Because I somehow, in my sleep-deprived demented way of thinking, believed perfection was attainable as a parent. So, I let them begin to pick out their own outfits from their dresser drawers each morning. My way of making this a genius, fool-proof compromise was to fold and put away all of their clothes IN MATCHING OUTFITS. Yeah. I took the time to match up adorable, matching, color coordinating outfits and put them all away that way. 

WHO DOES THAT???? 

A crazy woman, that’s who. 

If I have learned nothing else from the past 12 1/2 years as a mom, it’s this:

LET THE LITTLE STUFF GO. Don’t waste all of your energy or time focusing on crap. Literally. Crap. Those pages of obsessive chart making on bowel movements really weren’t all that important. I wish now that I had had better retrospect at what was truly important in life, especially when raising kids. More time to snuggle and laugh and love and listen. Less time lining up tiny glass jars of pureed baby food. I think we as parents get caught up in a two fold game of proving ourselves. the first part comes from all the damn experts and books we start reading and listening to  before we even give birth. All the “shoulds” and “Ought nots” and milestone charts that make us scramble in a panic to be sure if our offspring truly measures up properly. The second part is other mothers. The ones who brag about their perfect can-do-no-wrong child. Newsflash: Those mothers are full of crap. And we walk around thinking our kid doesnt add up to little Miss Perfect down the block so the easy thing to do is to tear down OTHER moms to make ourselves feel better. We call the formula feeding mama selfish. The homeschooling mother ignorant. The disposable diaper using mommy lazy. The non-vaxxing mom irresponsible. Its all this petty go-round and the only way we can find to make up for it is to prove ourselves as moms by keeping charts of sleep schedules and banishing tv’s from bedrooms and matching up adorable outfits so we can wave our hand with Vanna White flair and say “See!? See all this??? This proves I am the PERFECT mother.” 

Perfect is an illusion. A dull one at that. And a really really exhausting, stressful one to upkeep. It frankly blows. 

So, I am 6 kids in now. Today, my 4 year old ran around the entire day wearing nothing but a pair of Thomas The Train undies. We even had company over.  The baby found a piece of stray cat food on the kitchen floor and ate it. While I watched and kept chopping carrots for dinner. Because i figured it was protein. Theres a mountain of clean laundry in my room that needs to be folded VERY soon or it may eat me. And guess what? I haven’t written down the last time my now-12 year old crapped in a solid 12 years. 

Put the damn pens down. Stop keeping pointless charts.  Quit worrying so much. Follow your hearts, your guts, your instinct. Whatever you want to call it. Start paying it a little bit more attention. Hug your kids more. Hold your spouses hand more. Sit down and write out what you have learned in the past decade and then blog about that junk. Because even if no one else ever reads it or pays it any mind, it’s proof that you as a person have grown and changed. And thats living. 

A Letter To My Unborn Child,

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Dear Bambino,
I got a a pregnancy update via my email this morning. A notification that you are officially six weeks old in utero and are now approximately the same size as a lentil. I went to my pantry where a bag of lentils sat on my shelf and I held one in my hand and peered at it in wonder, pondering the awesome miracle that is you. Contemplating on how it could be possible that an entire future can begin with something so very small. Its mind blowing to me. Even though you are not my first child, by any means, I am never any less amazed at the miracle of life. That from almost nothing will come laughter and wonder and discovery and adventures. That you, as so very small as you are today, will go on to touch hearts and lives with your very existence. With your words and beliefs and talents.
It is almost overwhelming to me, that I am, right now, 100% responsible for keeping you safe and well within the depths of my own body. That every food I eat, drink I drink, breath I take, thought I have, emotion I experience…..that it all has some impact on you and your development and growth. It can be a daunting thing to realize, the weight of responsibility that comes with being a parent. Especially when I have lost babies in my past. I have bled and wept and cramped and mourned children I never even got to hold or meet. So, I am all too aware of how fragile and precious life truly is. It makes me even more grateful for you. For my body every day doing what it is meant to do and holding on to you. I am nothing but blessed and thankful.
I wonder if there is some memory of the lost ones lingering within my womb? If you somehow sense the echo of who they were and what their potential was? I wonder if any of them will come out through you? I wonder what parts of your father and I you will carry on? Some familear curve of a chin or cheekbone. The way you laugh, the way your hair curls to one side, the way you favor certain foods, the things you have a passion for. And then I wonder what parts of you will shine through and surprsie me as being your very own creation.
I will be 100% honest. I hope you are a girl. A very deep part of my heart longs for a daughter. A girl to teach woman things to. Someone I can wear matching dresses with and teach about being a woman of integrity and respect and a free spirit. We can fashion daisy chains for our hair and dance in the grass barefoot with our toenails painted pink and bright yellow.
But then again, as much as my soul longs for a woman-child, I wouldn’t mind another son. After all, the ones I already have aren’t that bad. Boys are a strange breed, that’s for sure. But I am absolutely in love with being a mother of a clan of boys. I cannot even begin to explain to people how much FUN my life is right now.
You are such a lucky child. There have been some pessimists who have felt the need to inform me that I am being selfish to you by adding you to a family of this size. I cannot begin to fathom the logic in that thought process. Because what you are coming to join is a home filled with so much love it is busting at the seams and overflowing. Loads of laughter. Snuggles. Story time. Tickle fights and wrestling matches and movies and silliness. I doubt your little body will ever be left alone to lay anywhere for longer than ten seconds before the next person will want to hold you. Your brothers are going to fight over you and protect you and adore you. Your Daddy is going to rock this Fatherhood gig. My friend Brandon (who lives with us) will no doubt play a part in lavishing you in love and teaching you how to be as awesome as he is. His girlfriend Amanda will do exactly the same. You, my dear, are going to be one very loved kid. There are children out there who only know fear or rejection or lonliness. You are such a lucky child.
I love you already. Passionately. In a way that almost scares me because of that little fear in the back of my mind that I could still lose you. But I love you anyway. Because I am your mother. And because you are amazing and magical and a miracle. And because you are mine. I will ALWAYS love you.
Love,
Mommy

Summer. The Season Of Change. And Family. And Popsicles. Lots Of Popsicles.

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I woke up this morning to a chill in the air. It dawned on me how close to Autumn we are actually getting. Which really surprised me how quickly this summer has flown by.And hwo much my life has changed in just a small handful of weeks. Huge drastic changes. Family dynamics. Household members. Beautiful, wonderful change. Going into it, I really assumed that this Summer was going to drag. We live a solid 15-20 minute drive from town and are currently sans a vehicle. The mere thought of being home all day every day for months was enough to cause me to hyperventilate and hide in a corner to nosh on chocolate and guzzle wine.
But I didn’t. Instead I got creative.
I made it a goal to every day do something fun with the kids. And some days I flopped horribly with that plan. Some days I got busy with house cleaning and mom stuff and all that jazz and it dawned on me that I didnt do a single special-super-fun-totally-awesome thing all damn day. So, Id cut the tops off a bunch of those popsicles in the tubes and shove them at my kids and say “See!? Fun! Yay! I’m a super great cool mom!” Lame. I know.
But more often than not we DID STUFF.
Without money. Without going into town.
We have no cable or satellite tv. No Wii. No huge vacation plans. What we did have was imagination and limited resources.
But I believe beyond a shadow of a doubt, this summer will be one we will never forget.
This is the summer we discovered the secret swimming spot right down the road, a winding creek tucked under a bridge where we built a dam and raced sticks and had splashing wars and found stones for my peace garden and throw mud. we bring the clay mud home to sculpt with and dry in the oven. we see water snakes and creepy spiders. One day I napped at the waters edge in a bed of moss and grass while Chris played with the boys. It was heavenly.
This is the summer we hiked. A lot. And found a huge vine connected to a huge tree and took turns swinging on it. And found old fence posts at an old abandoned house and took them home to decorate and sword fight with. And found huge mountains of stones at a construction site that we climbed and slid down. And found hot springs to lounge in. And found a slew of abandoned cats that we rescued.
This is the summer our apple trees and pear tree finally gifted us fruit. And the boys had a healthy snack anytime they wanted one. And they played war with the apples that fell to the ground. And they climbed up high to gather the ones that were red and fat and round and tossed them down so I could turn them into a huge pot of applesauce.
This is the summer Blaze turned one. And I made him a huge cupcake covered with sprinkles that took him a half hour to devour.
This is the summer I found out our 7th Little was on the way.
This is the summer my mom stopped speaking to me.
This is the summer I finally found my ex husband who has been incognito for 6 years and he finally started paying child support and talking to his sons on the phone.
This is the summer I discovered how wonderful laughter felt pouring out of me without fear of an angry, miserable man flipping his lid, losing his shit, and hurting me.
This is the summer I started writing my poetry again.
This is the summer I learned how to spar.
This is the summer I learned my son loves a girl named Lucy.
This is the summer we did a lot of backyard football and kickball and frisbee and wrestling.
It was a summer filled with a whole lot of love and laughter and family.
And it turns out you really don’t need any huge plans or aspirations or bucket loads of cash or destinations in order to have fun. Because in the end, the memories that truly really stick and matter the most are the ones where you spend time, not money.
If I had to write that lame essay all teachers make their students write on the first day of school “What I Did On My Summer Vacation”…..I am totally under the assumption my kids would all write “We had a totally awesome time.”
The End
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IMperfect

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Years ago, when I was a mom to only 2 sons, I was watching a talk show about Motherhood. A panel of moms, some veterans and some brand new first time moms, sat up on a stage and one by one they confessed how even though they loved their children more than life itself, they struggled with doubts and questioned their choices as a mother on a daily basis.
Except one.
One mother, a mom of one child, sat there all cocky and snide at the end of the row and stated that she NEVER felt anything but 100% assurance in her ability as a mother. She swore she never had a moment of uncertainty or resentment or frustration. She never felt anything but pure zen-like love flowing out and over and around her precious child.
I sat there yelling “BULLSHIT!!!!” at my television screen. She couldn’t hear me. But her words, and her “Better than you” attitude pist me off. Maybe she thought she was making herself look like a better mom if she denied she ever felt any doubt, fear, anger, etc… But frankly, all she was doing was making teh rest of teh moms on that panel go “Well, what the heck is wrong with ME?”
So, look, to all of you new moms or seasoned moms who scroll down your FaceBook newsfeed and see photos of other peoples perfectly dressed children doing perfect things in perfect places….let me be the first to say “Its all bullshit.”
Not that that stuff is all fake. Those aren’t staged photos. Positive moments happen, sure. But don’t you for one solitary minute believe that their family sings Disney songs in perfect harmony while driving to their outing. Don’t buy into the lie that other families are doing it better. We are all, as parents, just fumbling our way through this. Sometimes we know the solution right away and we can stand up triumphantly and go “Ah-ha!” and don our SuperMom cape and everyone lives happily ever after. And other times we get frustrated and yell. Even though we swore we were going to start being one of those moms who NEVER yells. We yell loud enough for the neighbors to hear. We yell stupid sentences like “If you don’t stop licking your brothers cup right NOW youre going to bed without dinner!” We try a discipline technique and it doesn’t work and our child stands there in front of us, all cocky and defiant like they’re challenging us and in our mind we flip them off or punch them in the face.
Oh calm down. I didn’t say you ACTUALLY punch them in the face. But don’t tell me you have never reached a point where you are SO aggravated and they are being SUCH a smartass that your teeth clench and your fists clench and you say “Get. out.of.my.sight.right.NOW.” Because you know if they don’t you will be very tempted to shove them in a box and ship them to Zimbabwe.
See that adorably perfect photo I posted online? I managed to get all 6 of my sons to sit and smile oh-so-perfectly for the camera and you look at it and go “Holy CRAP. How’d she get SIX kids to do that? I can’t even get my one 4 year old to sit still long enough to get a photo!”
Newsflash. You can’t see the 2 dozen OTHER photos that didn’t make it to FaceBook. The ones where my 12 year old was complaining that the sun was in his eyes and rubbing his eyes out of his face while I yelled “STOP rubbing your eyes, youre gonna make them red!” The ones where my 8 year old was pouting, arms crossed, looking pissy. The ones where the baby was crying while the 10 year old tried to hold him and I am yelling “Hold him up and make him stop crying!”(as if he has some super power) and the 4 year old is chewing on his shirt and they all look sweaty and squinty eyed from the sun and I finally holler “EVERYONE JUST PRETEND TO LOOK HAPPY AND THEN WE CAN GO GET ICE CREAM!”
Thats the picture YOU saw. The bribe-em-with-icecream picture.
Or the status updates where I inform the world that I made some delicious home made dinner, complete with dessert and you’re reading it while your kids are eating boxed mac & cheese. What I DIDN’T post, is that while I cooked that dinner the 4 year old repeatedly begged for a snack and when I told him “No snacks” he threw himself under my feet and wailed and wailed and wailed until I wanted to put HIM in a pot and cook him. I didn’t mention in my post how the 12 year old wandered into the kitchen where I was chopping and sauteing and sweating to death and informed me he won’t eat anything spicy, anything with onions, anything with peppers. (Basically every damn ingredient in the meal I am preparing.) The baby knocked over every canned good in the pantry and rolled them around the kitchen, turning my dinner preparation into a death-defying task as I step over rolling cans. The 6 year old had an epic meltdown because his two older brothers got to lick the beaters from the cake I baked and he didn’t. And I repeated the phrase “Get out of my kitchen right now! ” ten trillion times.
Look, there is no such thing as a mom who has it all together 100% of the time. Perfection is an illusion. Do I love my children? You betcha. I love my kids with so much love that at times it overwhelms me. They are my heart and soul. I would die for them. I truly would. But there are moments when they infuriate me. I have had moments when I lock myself in the bathroom and just cry while the shower water runs. There are days I wonder what my life would have turned out like if I had never had kids. There are days I yell. Days I let them watch 3 movies in a row and we don’t do a sing family-oriented thing because I am stressed or exhausted or simply burnt out. There are days the ugly in me comes roaring out and I’m not PROUD of who I am in those moments, but its real and its a part of me. As a mom and as a person.
My oldest son has Aspergers and Sensory Proccesing Disorder.He punches his brothers if they get into his space or touch his stuff. He doesnt let anything go. He is impulsive and obsessive. Socially awkward. My 10 year old has anger issues.He used to get violent. He is getting better but he still has days he gets mad and yells out cuss words and takes off outside to hide in the woods for an hour. My 8 year old is over dramatic and will melt down and dissolve into LOUD crying ten times a day. My 6 year old has mastered the art of blending the 10 year olds anger with the 8 year olds dramatic crying fests and made it his very own style. He also has a very difficult time in social situations. My 4 year old likes to destroy his room anytime he gets mad. The room he shares with 2 of his brothers. Tears clothes out of dresser drawers, rips stuff off walls, dumps out toy bins, etc…… Like a little tornado. He has done it a few times and my initial reaction was pure anger toward him and I had to walk away and let Chris deal with it. Because Chris can go in and be firm but amazingly patient and make him clean it all back up. But all I want to do is yell and shake my son in that moment because I just spent an hour of my life folding those clothes and helping them tidy up that room.
Some days are exhausting. Some days one of my children fall asleep crying and I lay in bed feeling like a huge failure of a mom because GOOD moms kiss their children sweetly on the forehead and tuck them in and say “Sweet dreams honey” and their children fall asleep with a smile on their face. Last night one of my sons fell asleep on the hallway floor because I refused to give them a snack at 11 p.m. So, they “cried” for a half hour before passing out. You know, that loud, obnoxious no-tears cry kids do at times. Some days are easier than others. Some days everything runs the way you want it to.
But other days…..
I remember when my now-4 year old was a newborn and had colic. He was my 5th son. You would think by that point I would be a pro at all things baby-related. Oh sure, I knew every trick in the book. I rolled up my sleeves and said “I got this.”
And fell flat on my face.
Because my infant son didn’t give one ounce of a sliver of a damn about all of my supposedly fool-proof tricks. All he wanted to do was squall and spit up and squirm and scream until his entire body turned beet red. And then KEEP doing it for a solid 4 or 5 more hours. I tried everything. Nothing helped. So, I lay in my bed, a screaming miserable infant on my chest whiel I just cried along with him. My mother, who was living with us at that time, came into my room to find her daughter laying there helplessly, big fat tears rolling down her cheeks while her grandson screamed right in her face. She scooped up that screaming baby and told me to try to get some sleep and took that squalling baby out of my bedroom. The closed bedroom door muffled his cries and I lay there thinking “I understand why people shake their babies.” Not that I ever WOULD, mind you. But on that night, and many after that, until he finally quit the colic, I could very clearly see how, if you don’t have a support system, if you are worn to the very core of yourself, if you don’t have proper coping skills in place, you can so easily snap. Because motherhood is damn hard. It is physically and emotionally straining. You survive on 4 hours of interrupted sleep, half of which you spend with a tiny human suckling on you. You get up and meet the constant needs of a person who won’t even once in the entire day say thank you for it. You get peed on, puked on, called a “Meanie Face”, get informed the meal you spent 2 hours making is “gross and looks weird”. You don’t even get the basic human privelege of peeing alone. Its a wonder we survive, its a wonder our children survive.
Raising children into functioning adults is a daunting task at best. So do not for one single minute believe that maybe everyone else is doing it better than you. Trust me on this, we are ALL figuring it out as we go along. I have friends who are pregnant with their first child and they have doubts about how they will handle labor, how they will have enough money to pay rent when they take maternity leave, whether they can handle this whole parenting gig in the first place. I have friends who are first time moms and they are going nuts trying to figure out how to get their toddler to stop throwing tantrums in the store and how to poop IN the potty, not NEXT to it.They say to me “I don’t know HOW you do it with 6! I can’t even handle ONE!” I have to tell them I felt the SAME way when i had just one. I was exhausted and overwhelmed and pulling my hair out with my one son. Then I had two and I went “Holy crap! WHY did we have another one!?” Because it changed the whole dynamics and threw me for a loop and I wished I could go back to the “easy” days when I just had one child. And forget about when we had 3 kids and my husband and I were officially outnumbered. EVERY part of motherhood is hard. I have friends who are seasoned experienced moms. These are the women I go to for advice. And even THEY have moments of doubt and worry and struggle. They message me on FaceBook asking me to pray for their son who is making some seriously unwise life choices. They message me about their daughter who has an attitude from hell and may possibly not survive her last year of high school because her mother wants to kill her somedays.
Perfection is an illusion. Motherhood is HARD. Maybe if we admitted a little more often that we are struggling, we would have more of a support system. You know that phrase “It takes a village…”? Maybe we need to stop hiding behind our “Perfect Mommy” masks and start seeking that village.

“You’re Pregnant Again???!!!”

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It’s baby #7 on the way. Trust me, I’ve heard every ignorant comment and ridiculous comment in the world.
“You do realize what causes that, right?”
“Are you trying for a girl this time?”
“I don’t know how you do it! I’d lose my mind!”
“Working on a basketball team?”
“Are you getting your tubes tied after THIS one?”

Hey, newsflash. It’s none of your damn business what choices I make for MY family. It has zero effect on you and your daily life. Therefore you are NOT entitled to share your opinion with me.
I do realize that many people simply do not understand because their priorities are different than my own. And I am fine with that. I don’t care if you have 11 kids or 2 kids or no kids. I don’t care if you had your first at age 14 or waited until your 40’s to become a mother. It is simply not my place to judge others for their journey. I wish everyone thought that way. bUt since they don’t, I guess I need to clear a few things up.

1) I do not regret my children. Not for one solitary second. Not even this most recent babe who defied birth control and exists anyway. I do not believe in abortion so that was never ever an option. I do not feel like my kids hinder my freedom or have held me back from oppurtunities. I do not desire to go get a career making a ton of money while strangers raise my children. This is MY personal feeling. I do not miss partying, hanging out with friends, etc… I do not want to go on a child-free vacation with my man. Family vacations are far more fun. I do not wish to have more STUFF. Stuff is useless. I don’t want name brand clothes and electronic equipment and a flashy car. I far prefer baking with my children on rainy days, collecting river rocks for painting, backyard football games and Family Movie Nights. I don’t want more money. I want to treasure every single precious moment I have with my sons.
2) I am not overwhelmed. Sure, there is chaos sometimes. There are certainly days I get stressed or worried or angry. Days I yell too much. Days I cry in frustration. I refuse to play the perfect Mommy card. There’s no such thing. I’m not Mary friggin Poppins. But alot of people have this vision in thier head of my life. They assume I live in filth and stink, with boys running wild (and probably naked. Smeared in mud) while I run around after them holloring and disheveled, my hair sticking up,in mismatched clothes, looking like a wild woman. Thats not the case. I run a tight ship. I HAVE to. My boys say yes mam, no mam. They make thier beds after breakfast. They do chores. I home school. I dress nice(no ratty pajamas) and listen to music while I clean house in the mornings. Because this is my JOB and I treat it as such. I understand some women have no desire to be a Stay At Home Mom. And some moms don’t WANT 7 children. But the fact is, since I was 4 years old, THIS was my dream. To be a wife and a mother. To raise my children. I love being a homemaker. It gives me pleasure to have a shiny bathroom or to see my sons eating a healthy meal I cooked from scratch. I love sewing handmade pillows and kneading dough for bread and hanging tye dyed curtains and seeing my pantry all stocked and organized. I am not pulling my hair out in exasperation. I feel blessed. Fulfilled. Content.
3) 7 is a fine number for me. I decided when I was 14 years old and met a wonderful family with 6 kids, that I wanted to grow up and have at least 6 myself someday. Their home was filled with laughter and love and faith. I craved that. A large family has always been my goal, my dream. Toss into account the fact I am a christian and believe in what the bible says about children. That they are a blessing, a gift. “Blessed is the man who has a quiverfull.” I do not feel strapped down by my children. I LOVE being pregnant. I feel vibrant, enetergetic, full of life. I feel all Earth-Mother-y and curvy and zen. I feel that being a mother is my purpose and I love fulfilling that purpose. I love the laboring process. It is primal and empowering. I am not being selfish here. My sons all get ample alone time with me and with Chris. We are very diligent in being sure of this. They earn points through chores to get special one-on-one time with one of us and they are always free to come to us and talk to us. We do Movie Nights. We cook together. We learn together. We also are sure that when a child craves alone time by themselves that that desire is respected and that that need is met. My children do not lack anything. Not the important stuff. No, they don’t have Ipods and Kindles and Wiis. But they DO have brothers who are best buddies with them. They have lots of memories of game nights and bonfires. They catch fireflies in the backyard. They play at the creek and build forts in the woods. They know how to cook some awesome meals. They have listened to me read literary classics to them at bedtime. They have childhoods crammed full of tickling and snuggling and wrestling and stories and crafts and baking and laughter and praying and dinners together and love. They lack nothing.
I actually read a post on FaceBook recently where a woman was ignorantly talking badly about myself and my family. She called me some names and then mentioned I was pregnant AGAIN and said it was “nasty.” This comment perplexed me. HOW can a child existing ever be nasty? I mean, maybe if I got knocked up in some one-night-stand she might have some valid reason to find a bit of shame in my pregnancy. But I think her point was that somehow 7 children made me a whore. ? Her comment didn’t offend me. It amused me at best. What was even better was the woman underneath who commented on the post by saying I would get what I deserved on Judgment Day.
What the what what????
To me, thats like saying the man who works hard at his job is nasty because he gets a raise or a promotion. These children are my blessing from God. They are nothing but goodness and light and love to my soul.
If I can look back on my life and see I raised my children into adults who have integrity and character and faith and passion, If I do nothing else with my life but raise my children to be people who will go out into the world and make a positive change in it in some way…..than I will consider my life successfully lived. ❤

Tell Them

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I have a friend. A young man of 18 who speaks quite often about all of the things he desires to accomplish. He talks a lot about his passions and dreams and things that interest him. He talks about college and moving to another country someday and making money doing something he loves. But there is always this other part of his future that resounds deeply with regret and determination to prove himself. You see, this young man has spent a good chunk of time being sheperded to the outside. Ostrasized for hsi bad choices or maybe simply because some parents take their childs individuality as a personal attack on themselves as parents. No matter what the reason for his journey, this young man has repeatedly told me about how he wants to “make something” of himself so he can prove himself to his father. Which makes me want to shake him and say “You already ARE something!!!” It is pretty clear to me that it is his father who is missing out on so much and lacking an awful lot. The young man told me yesterday he was thinking about the military because he could get a high rank and show up at his fathers door in full uniform with his badges of rank on display. Something tells me not even then would his father understand his HEART.

And THAT is what truly matters. Who we are is not about rank or status quo or financial status or popularity. It isn’t who we marry or where we live or who we vote for. It isn’t our job or our diagnosis or who we associate with. In the end, when all else is stripped away, what we are left with is the true US. The stuff that makes us cry, the things that stir up angry indignation within our souls. The moments we throw our heads back and laugh. Our scars. Both fleshly and heart scars. The things that move us. Move us to fight for what we believe in. Move us to weep. Move us to dance. Move us to keep on moving. It breaks my heart to think of this young man whom I admire so much and respect so deeply constantly seeking approval for the wrong things. Do I understand longing for acceptance and approval from a parent? Of course. I have done it myself. But one can simply exhaust oneself into a grave tirelessly trying to be “good enough”.

This young man is going to be a father soon. This November he will change and be changed forever in huge ways that will form his soul and spirit into new dimensions. I realize he cannot even begin to grasp the understanding of this change. Who I was before I became a parent is now simply a faint memory. Life changes when a child enters this world and claims us as theirs. Right now he is worrying about visitation and custody issues. About how he will handle the physical responsibilities of caring for his son. But if I could give him just one piece of advice as a seasoned parent to a new parent it woudl be this:

TELL HIM THAT YOU LOVE HIM. Tell him every day. Tell him you love him when he is brand new and has watery eyes of wisdom and still smells of heaven. Tell him when he is screaming in a tantrum and cannot even hear your words. Tell him with words and with actions. Raise a son who has no doubt in his mind that you love and accept him. Because then, when he is 18 ( or 3 or 14 or 30) he won’t ever, for one fraction of a moment, ever wonder if he is good enough. He will not feel the need to “make something” of himself. He will simply know.

Thats a pretty basic rule of Parenting 101 for all of us, really. Kids don’t really require very much. And the most basic need they all have is LOVE. So tell them. Tell them hwo very wanted and adored and appreciated and cherished they really are. Tell them before they go looking in all of the wrong directions seeking that approval and acceptance. Write them little love notes and stick them under their pillow or in their lunch boxes. Kiss them goodbye every morning before school and say “I love you. Have a great day.” Even when they are 12 and roll their eyes and wipe your kiss away. Make sure they know they are still loved even when they are annoying the piss out of you and all you really want to do is scream and run away and join the carnival. Tell them, tell them, tell them. Every day.

There is so much destruction in the heart of a person who has grown up not feeling that love.

There is so much power in the heart of a person who has grown up with that love. Love can heal, can build up, can help growth happen.

Never let a day go by without telling them.

And that young man? Well, I hope he knows he really is an amazing person, inside and out. His light shines so bright….I believe in time his father won’t be able to avoid seeing it himself. But even if he never did……

Well, that young man is still nothing less than everything he has ever been meant to be and everything he desires to be.