February 21, 2015 – Life with a large family

When I was young, I told myself that I would never get married and I would never have kids. Well, God must have been laughing from above. Now married and four kids later, life with a large family is all I know.

Somewhere along the journey, the thought of having four children was never planned; it just happened. With each child came a reemerging feeling that I was not done yet. Each phase of infancy, then toddlerhood made me long to have another child in our life.  My husband says he was done after the first two, but in my eyes, two children was simply too small of a number.

I came from a small family, just one sister and  then much later, a brother. Growing up in a small family can be lonely especially when all of the other families around me were much bigger in size. Granted, Hispanic families tend to be larger in number anyhow; yet, I still couldn’t understand why ours was so small.  Something about big families intrigued me — their close connections and grand laughter especially made me wonder what it was like to grow up in a large family. Bigger families equaled more love to give and more love to receive.

Four children in a family is a daunting task. Others from big families know what I’m talking about–nonstop clothes in the washer, constant grocery shopping, unmatched socks (like all of the time), and varying eating patterns from each child. The organization of daily tasks is a continual battle, for in the rush of daily life, good intentions don’t always happen. The shower that was supposed to be cleaned weeks ago , the pants that needed to be hemmed, now long past due, and the smelly food that lingers in the air when the frig is ajar– all of these are the results of the unorganized mess stemming from a loss of time in such a big family. Time just never seems to come when it’s needed in these unorganized times.

When the chaos gets unbearable, I think of my grandmother. She raised eleven children at a time when this number of children was the norm. I often wondered how my grandmother coped in raising and caring for all of her children. Most women in her day were stay at home moms, which was a job in itself. Washing , mending clothes, feeding all of her children–I can’t even imagine a day in her life.  She even made dresses out of cotton sacks of flour which were made for the girls in the family. However, times were different because most people did not have money for anything extra and the children were part of the work crew to help raise money for the family. Times were much simpler with less money to work from, yet I know there were stresses still present in their lives that today’s culture might not be able to bear, such as owning a television or electronics.

So although the chaos of certain days leave me on edge, I don’t know any different and even if I did, I would still long for the great crazy days with my four children. Days like Sunday mornings, when the kids surround the table, eating their breakfast, and laughter is our entertainment. Or the family trips when the whole crew is in tow and the kids sing the most current popular song as we drive down a long unfamiliar road.  And the smile that crosses my husband’s face as he looks at me, knowing in each other’s hearts that we’ll never forget this time in our life. Or the pride I feel when the faces of my children radiate from a family photo, revealing to the world that they are loved, happy, secure. This in itself is the best moment — realizing that I helped create such beautiful souls, souls with their gifts to bestow on the world. And in their uniqueness, I marvel at their connection to me, their mother. My blessings are so abundant.

No, I can’t say I planned my life like this, but God is usually the driver in my life. Sometimes, I just have to sit back and enjoy the ride.

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