she told me less would have been best

I was recently asked point blank why I had four kids, given that I’m an introvert who suffered from anxiety.

The constant noise, the always touching and neediness, the endless worry and to-do list that comes with raising a large (young) family. Why on earth I would do that to myself?

Not skipping a beat, she stated that my personality type was probably better suited to raising a small family. You know, just one child – maybe two if there was an age gap between the siblings.

One child? Maybe two? Never.

I always knew I was going to have four children, lord willing of course.

This life I’m living? I wanted it badly. Because it’s the only family life I’ve ever known. I am a product of a large family, and so is my husband. Lots of kids, this is how we do it.

The funny thing is, when I was in the midst of this conversation with this lady, I wasn’t at all upset by her words (although my better judgement tells me I should have been).  I had no desire to scream any “how dare you’s” or “you’re way off base’s”. Because when I think about it, she’s probably right.

My anxiety would be less without so much chaos and worry.

I would sleep better and more frequently with less of a to-do list.

Less people needing me and constantly yelling my name would be nice, some days.

Less. There would be so much less in my life, without these four kids. But you guys, my heart would be less full.

But why are we even having this conversation? I can’t turn back time, and my family is my family. I have four kids, and while it’s often overwhelming, it is what it is. I don’t regret my decision to have a large family, but yes I could use some fresh coping skills.

(Why do I feel ashamed that I’m having a hard time dealing with my current life stage?)

She said it’s important to know how we’re wired and what makes us thrive, in order to parent successfully.

I thrive in quiet. I like to talk instead of shout. Solo sports instead of team sports. Communication? I’m oftentimes not the best at.

So what’s an introvert mom like me to do in the chaos of her life?

Make the quite happen, she said. BWHAHAHAHAHAHAAH was my response.

But maybe she was on to something. If I hear here correctly, maybe she was giving me permission to tape my kids mouths shut and lock them in the basement. Because that’s about the only way quite will happen under my roof.

Yeah, no.

Less chaos, make it happen, she said. My kids need, I need it.

Last weekend, Gage and I went on a date to the movies. Just the two of us, we say an advance screening of The Croods. Sure, I could have taken the girls with us too, but to be alone with just him was so amazing.

8562597486 0a3175f675 she told me less would have been best

And last night, Nola and I went to pick up her new glasses (isn’t she the cutest). Sure, I could have taken Piper with us as well, but Nola and I are never alone together. Sometimes I wonder if her behavioral issues aren’t because she’s begging for attention, feeling sandwiched in the middle and ignored. Because when it’s just the two of us, she’s so happy.

And when she’s calm and happy, I rest easy myself.

8573537340 48bbea725d she told me less would have been best

Tonight, PK and I are going to run some errands after dinner. Quality time one-on-one time can happen in the deli section of the grocery store, right?

I think what’s wrong is that often feel like I have to be with all of my children, all of the time.

Why “waste” time with just one of my children, when I should be at home with all four of my children. Messed up thinking, right? Because it’s not wasting time at all, and I’m slowly figuring this out.

My life, my family, and how God created me wasn’t a mistake at all.  But just because someone decided that my personality lends itself to thriving in a small family, doesn’t mean that’s the life for me. I’m here to prove (mostly to myself) that I can be a successful and happy introverted mom in a large family.

Gah, why is parenting so hard? And when’s my next therapy session?

 

 

 

Comments

comments

Comments

  1. While I am the product of a large family (3rd in 7), a blogger, an Interior Designer and a constant reader – I don’t know Nola. Still, oddly, when you describe her I often relate. I think what you’re hinting at maybe being the cause of her behavioral issues is probably right. I was an extreme kind of introvert growing up, and needed some SERIOUS one-on-one time. That wasn’t often available, so I became the difficult child. In my mind, any attention was worth having. If i could make my parents miserable, and they still loved me, then I knew I was loved. Even up into my early teens, I was fine with negative parental attention bc they didn’t deal with my “issues” alongside my siblings. I got long one-on-one talks, therapy sessions an hour away, and that was heaven. Even if my hellacious behavior had caused it – and i was a different person outside the home -, a big part of me was just relieved to HAVE THEIR ATTENTION.

    Whew. This was long, and possibly only a smidgeon relates to YOUR middle child. But it’s my story, and I think you’re right about Nola.
    Megan N. recently posted..Critical – Yes, sir!

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    Emily Reply:

    Megan –
    We are so much alike (also, hi!). I do think you’re on to something with Nola, and it’s only taken 5 years for me to figure it out. If you’re not being heard in your chaotic family, SCREAM REAL LOUD (isn’t that what Pee Wee Herman once said?).

    But honestly, you’re totally right. I think that’s what she’s doing. Which, hello, is something I can deal with.

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  2. I think you’re a great mom, and you have a great family with awesome kids. Chaos and difficulty come with every family, regardless of size. I’m having issues with mine, and I only have 2 kids. I also think you’re really onto something with the alone time. I vented to my sister (a social worker with experience providing therapy to little ones), who reminded me about the importance of giving my older one parent ‘dates’ where he can be alone with mom or dad, as special big brother time. I was like ‘duh,’ since that sounds like advice I would have given someone else, but totally forgot about when it came to my own kids. Here’s hoping you continue to have lots of fun during your 1:1 kid time!

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    Emily Reply:

    thanks sarah. And it’s so true, I too can dish out the best advice, but to live it is such another story. I’m digging this 1-on-1 time, so I’m going to try to make it happen way more often. Also, it’s been a long time. Let’s get together soon for some playtime. Or maybe a glass of something tasty…

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    sarah Reply:

    @Emily, Sounds fantastic :) I’d love to catch up. Either play time or drinks are right up my alley.

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  3. I have 3 kiddos and I find myself thinking the same thing… that i dont want to waste time with one when we can all be together all the time! It’s crazy. I’ve found myself telling my oldest i wouldnt play a game with him until his sister got up from her nap cause I knew she would want to play too but there was no reason I couldn’t have just played with him then. I felt really guilty about it later, so, like you, i’ve been trying to be more intentional about spending 1 on 1 time with them.

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    Emily Reply:

    the game/activity thing, I do this daily. Then the schedule changes, and half the time we don’t ever end up doing the fun thing he/she asked to do in the first place! I need to learn to live in the moment more.

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  4. Michelle says:

    I actually had to set aside one night a week where I do “date night” with one of my boys – ages 9 and 12. I wish I could do more (but at this time our life is soooo busy with their sports and school that it’s just NOT gonna happen!)but I let them think of where they we are going and I hope that I’m raising good husbands for some lovely ladies some day. :) They are so cute – they plan some things like bowling and video games….and then some nights are dinner at a restaurant with candles. Their dad gives them money to “treat mom”. It isn’t easy! But I don’t guess any mom thought it would be. I’m pregnant with baby #7 by the way (boy #6)so I’d better get good at it somehow! :)

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    Michelle Reply:

    @Michelle, my point was that they spend one on one time and tell me all that their little hearts are holding. Some nights it’s serious, some nights it’s knock knock jokes. Either way it makes me misty eyed knowing that someday I’ll miss it! :(

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    Emily Reply:

    I LOVE the idea of “treating mom”, and not just because I’m mom. Such a sweet idea. And cheers to number seven, wow girl! (or should I say boy…..) Congrats!

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  5. Parening is always hard… always. I love one on one time with my two boys, it’s so special, and very necessary… and I love being together with them, too.
    Loukia recently posted..One Hundred Dollars

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    Emily Reply:

    Loukia – you always look like you’re having the best time with your boys. Such a fun and active mom, I really admire that about you.

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  6. i can relate to this. and now my husband has left and we are divorced and i am trying to figure out how to have less chaos and less of me being a crazy, anxiety-ridden, mama.
    rebecca recently posted..Because I have not posted in forever…

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  7. I get the whole less noise, less anxiety thing. But I have one kid and there is still a truckload of noise. I think having a large family could potentially help assuage anxiety because you have a safe base of peeps at home with whom you feel comfortable to provide love and support.
    Man, we are good at shaming ourselves, aren’t we? There’s always something that we should do more of, shouldn’t have done, whatevs.
    My idea of a good parent is one who shows their kids love and who learns from previous experiences and does better the next time. From what I see of you on this blog you fit right into that good parent category.
    joules recently posted..Top Ten {Tuesday} – Mighty Fine YouTube Shows

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    Emily Reply:

    yeah, I think no matter how many kids you have, the noise level is always at 11. And yes, we totally have to stop shaming ourselves. But sometimes it’s so hard to shake the guilt. Which is so dumb…

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    joules Reply:

    @Emily,
    It’s so hard and so dumb. We’d never do it to each other, but to ourselves? Heap it on. Oy.
    joules recently posted..Top Ten {Tuesday} – Mighty Fine YouTube Shows

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  8. I love your writing. I love your personality. I love you. And again I’m reminded I should start a “It gets better” or at least a “It gets less noisy” for moms of littles campaign. On the flipside there’s hormonal rage here in Middle School land so maybe it’s just “It gets different.”

    I just started Holley Gerth’s “You Were Made for a God-Sized Dream.” Sounds like a large family is part of your God-Sized dream friend.
    Cherie recently posted..FREE redbox Video Game Rental

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  9. Dating your children is one of the best parts of parenthood.

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    Shannon Reply:

    @Casey-moosh in indy. (@mooshinindy), Love this Casey! ;)
    Shannon recently posted..i’m not a quitter…but I want to sometimes!

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  10. you are totally right about having quality time in the deli section of the grocery store. that was the first piece of advice we got from a fostering/adoptive family when we began fostering ourselves. they said “never leave the house alone (unless it’s a date night!) but take a child and make it special! even between foster placement when i just have two children, i try to do this as much as possible. they always feel so special and loved! and i enjoy ordering my meat without bickering in the background ;)
    Bethany recently posted..What I Wore – Pajamas and a Flapper Dress!

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  11. I love love love love those cute little glasses :-) and yes Parenting is so very hard!!! But I wouldn’t trade it for anything else!
    Renee recently posted..Tiny Talk

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  12. I can not imagine why that woman would have even said something like that. I can see if you haven’t had any children yet and so it was a suggestion, but like you said, you can’t go back in time. How was that helpful? People baffle me sometimes.
    I often wonder how I can handle all of the madness around my house, and then I even want more kids. I’m so crazy. But I can tell you that you are in the thick of it right now. It really does get easier, and I think we just learn to cope a little better too.
    Be gentle with yourself. You are a great mom!
    Kat recently posted..Eight Is Great

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  13. I’m a mother of one and can tell you the anxiety is not different with one than with four. Nor is the noise level. You chose what you wanted and having any less than 4 kids would have left you feeling empty and therefore more prone to a deeper depression and higher anxiety level. A friend who has three children ages 8, 6, and 4 routinely – as in – every other week takes one child out for a special errand or extra snuggles in her bed at bedtime. Also I think monthly dates with her husband too! It is a part of her normal schedule/routine and she has said it does WONDERS for her children. I think you are doing just fine.

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  14. I can’t imagine who would have said something so bold to you out loud! Ha :) I have been told I’m crazy for wanting 3 or 4 kids and that I’m on number 3 within 4 years of each other. Sometimes I wonder if they are right but I know it’s what we’ve been led to do and it’s all good. I like your idea of taking them out one at a time. I notice Claire’s behavior is SO much better on the 2 mornings a week when Chloe is in school. Looking forward to some park time with her alone when the weather straightens up. And I need to get Chloe away by herself more too. Love your honesty :) I’m not quite as introvert but pretty close and I can relate…I do enjoy quiet time :)
    Renee K. recently posted..melissa & doug at gummy lump :: review and giveaway

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  15. You are so amazing, you know EXACTLY what your family needs. You are taking the time. The kids won’t remember the hard or sad times….they will thrive in the one on one time. They will remember the happy times. I have to get better at this myself. You are probably the only one concerned with the here and nows and the not keeping up with others. You rock momma!!
    Shannon recently posted..i’m not a quitter…but I want to sometimes!

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  16. I am here at my Mom’s right now while my kids are on Spring Break. I tell you this because earlier tonight while I was in another part of the room I sat and listened while my Mom and my oldest had the nicest conversation, just the two of them. Sometimes I think he LONGS for that and right now I cannot always give it to him because I am being pulled in other directions. I need to be more mindful of it when I can, but it is hard when you have several kids.

    And I DO think you are right where you need to be and that God gave you the family he always intended for YOU to have. xo
    Elaine recently posted..Blissdom ’13 – The Recap

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  17. I had a friend recently tell me straight up he couldn’t believe that I wanted more kids since I “can barely handle the ones I have”.

    I didn’t know how to answer and I internalized that for a long time, feeling guilty for the children I have already.

    But you know what? This is the life God gave me. The desire for more children is also from him. My depression and anxiety? Not from him.
    Katie recently posted..China Misunderstandings

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