How Do You Do It?

I get asked this a lot. I guess having four children, and especially since the oldest is only five, kind of begs the question. I don’t mind when people I know inquire–I figure since they’ve seen how, um, *active* my children are, they’re probably wondering how it is that I haven’t been institutionalized or started drinking in the morning. It really irks me, though, when perfect strangers come up to me (Target seems to be a favorite location for this conversation) and ask how I manage, or comment on how many children I have, or let me know that I have my hands full (thanks for the news bulletin!).

I guess people are just naturally curious, but they really make me feel like some kind of circus side show–why do complete strangers feel the need to comment on my family, or ask personal questions that are none of their business? It’s getting to the point where my children are starting to notice the commentary and ask why people always say that–and I imagine they’re getting used to being stared at about as much as I am. (My personal favorite, though, was one day when I was at the hospital for the baby’s well child exam, and someone asked if they were all mine. Really, you think I’d drag four children through the very busy hospital because it’s so much fun? Does it look like some kind of game trying to make sure the double stroller and the two older children all make it into the elevator before the doors close? Some people need some kind of screening device between their brains and mouths!)

Anyway, as to how I do it…how do I not do it? Really, what choice do I have? The house and children need to be cared for, and as that is my responsibility, I just do it. I can’t even remember what it was like to have only one child; can barely remember only having two. Frankly, adding children three and four were much easier than adding child two, because by the time I had baby three, I knew what to expect, and knew how to divide my time more efficiently.

This question always reminds me of a conversation I had with my doctor after baby three arrived. I had a c-section, just I have with all my other deliveries, and I was talking to him about how I was going to care for my older two children once I got home from the hospital, because I knew I’d have even less help this time around than I did with the first two. I flat out told him that I knew I’d be lifting at least my 16 month old sometimes, if not the two and half year old as well. I said this knowing full well that is not what doctors advise following a section–they always tell you not to lift anything heavier than the baby. But my doctor just looked at me and said “you do what you have to do.” He understood. He didn’t try to make me feel guilty for breaking the “rules,” rather, he set me free to parent the way I knew I needed to do, and to do what I felt was best for me and my children.

That’s how I feel about having four so young and so close in age–I do what I have to do. Sure, there are some mornings when I can barely drag myself out of bed, and there are some nights when I fall back into it in exhaustion, and there are many, many days when I tire of mediating disputes over toys, books and games, but this is the job God has given me to do. No matter how difficult it may be at times, it is what I have always wanted, and I can’t imagine doing it any differently. I’m doing what I have to do, because it’s there for me to do, and it needs to be done, and done well.

Four Children and I’ve Never “Given Birth”?!?

Self-righteous women who take it upon themselves to decide that c-section mamas haven’t really “given birth” honk me off. Is having surgery to bring your child into the world ideal? Probably not, although I’d take a healthy baby born by c-section (and an equally healthy mom!) over a normal delivery with complications any day. But some women can be so condescending with their “all you did was lay there while the doctor did all the work–I made an effort to bring my children into the world!” speeches, it makes me want to smack them! I especially appreciated one women’s analogy between my baby and a bad appendix. Apparently, when you have a c-section, you are opened up, just like during an appendectomy, and instead of the doctor removing your appendix, he removes your baby. Nice. Please be more insulting next time.

Why do we insist on arguing over semantics, anyway? Is it really that important if I “delivered” my baby, or if I was “delivered of” my baby? Give me a break–all that really matters is a healthy pregnancy, a healthy baby, and the fact that, in the end, I’m a mom.

And just for the record, in my opinion, I’ve given birth four times, and no one will convince me otherwise!

I’m pretty sure Jesus said “let the children come to me.”

I’ve been told that if I want to keep up with technology (thank you Ryan) that I should have a blog. So here it is. Now, with four children, it’s anybody’s guess as to how often I’ll actually write anything here, so we’ll just have to see how it goes.

So, I read something on a message board I frequent the other day, and it’s been driving me crazy ever since. The thought started out innocently enough—if your baby is crying in church, please be considerate of those worshiping around you, and remove him or her from the service until the crying has stopped. I get that. Personally, I may wait a minute or two to see if the crying stops in the church, before drawing further attention to the situation by climbing over those seated next to me and leaving the sanctuary with a wailing child, but if someone wants to leave at the first sign of whimper, that’s their business. It was the following quote, however, that really raised my hackles:

Which is why we don’t attend a church that allows babies in the service. Some people do find that offensive and when a deacon kindly asks them to take their children to one of the age appropriate rooms, we’ve had new people grab their belongings and march out totally ticked off. We have a nursing moms room and a sick child room both which have live video of the service. And of course we have classes for babies all the way up through junior high.

Parents also are given pagers which vibrate if they’re needed. I think expecting a baby or a young child to sit through a church service is unreasonable. It’s totally not fun for the child and it’s totally distracting for the congregants. Why not have them well taken care of in an environment with loving care takers, great toys and age appropriate stories and activities?

A church that doesn’t allow my children in worship?!? Are you kidding me? I would certainly be one of those parents leaving ticked off if a “deacon” ever told me my children weren’t welcome in church. Aside from the fact that as a visitor, I would never, ever leave my children with strangers, I just don’t understand this line of thinking at all. Anyone who knows me knows that I don’t care for church nurseries (we even go so far as to attend a church that does not offer one, which is a huge relief to me!) or children’s church, whatever that’s even supposed to mean.

Maybe it’s because I come from such a liturgical tradition, but the content of the service (sermon, readings, etc.) aside, which I know can be difficult for both children and adults to grasp, there is so much to be learned from the act of worship. So much of our Divine Service comes directly from Scripture, and the familiar words of the liturgy and the hymns that we sing are ingrained in our children from before they are born–I truly believe each one of my children recognized the rhythm and flow of the service from hearing it every week in utero. Why would I want them to miss out on the act of corporate worship just because of their age? And while I look forward to church every week, let’s face it, it’s not supposed to be “fun.” Worship is not about us, and if we’re going there to have a good time, we have other issues we need to resolve, other than whether or not children should be there.

Learning to sit still is also not going to hurt a child, either. Everything in our society is so “go, go, go” from pre-school years on up; that time of sitting quietly in church on Sunday mornings can only only be beneficial for the body and spirit. And how is a child ever going to learn to sit and pay attention to the service if you don’t start them out right at the beginning? For my family, anyway, we’ll all be in church together, and if we ever run across a church that doesn’t support that, I can guarantee you we won’t ever be going back there.

OK, rant over.