So, I went to a fondue party last night, and I had a wonderful time. I almost didn't make it to the party because the roads were not the greatest, and there were some serious whiteouts on my drive, but I'm glad that I continued on. Anyone that knows me, knows that I am a little bit of a home body. I am not one for hanging out with girlfriends, sharing pleasantries, or chatting about my day. I like to be at home with my family. I have busy days, so when there is down time, I like to be at home, on my couch with Barry and the kids. I really love my girlfriend who was having the little get together , she is like family to me, and so I went to party...fondue style!!
It is always nice to be around other woman that I have not meant before. I like to observe, and learn from other woman. We have a lot of really neat things to offer each other. I met a "whole foodie" last night, who new a lot of very interesting things about the nutritional value of various foods that I have never even heard of. I started to feel just a bit unknowing when she began to share some of the things she understood about food. But it was very interesting and very informative, and it did help me to recognize that I probably should pay much closer attention to the what I use to fuel my body. We all should.
The best part of the night came when we gathered around the table to fellowship over the fondue. Funny, I don't even like cheese..or the dark chocolate that was served, but it was all still very delicious and presented beautifully. As we sat around the table, we began to talk amongst ourselves and share a little bit, and then someone mentioned that I have seven children.
We joke about this ALL the time as a family, because it always stops people in their tracks. Sometimes the reactions are typical and expected, and sometimes, I just shake my head and smile. People can really say some ridiculous, and almost offensive things. I have a pretty tough skin when it comes to this, because it has happened so often, but really people, we do know how this works. To imply that we are unaware of how babies are made, is just a bit ignorant, and frankly, I stopped responding to those comments a long time ago.
But last night was different. I was sitting beside a very lovely woman who looked straight in my eyes and said, "why?" She asked me in all sincerity,"why did you have so many kids?" And then she began to say,"that is a lot.' "that is a lot of responsibility, a lot of time, a lot of money, a lot of sleepless nights, a lot of being pregnant, and breast feeding, a lot of stress and sacrifice!!"
I appreciated her honesty so much, and by this time, most of the conversations turned in our direction and they all were interested in my response. I told her that I was glad she asked me that so honestly. I usually don't give people in passing much of an explanation, but I knew that she was sincere, and quite curious about why I chose to have a big family. My answer really is simple, but I was just impressed with her complete honesty...although she did look at me like I was from another planet. It is a question that many people ask, because having more than 2-3 children is almost unheard of anymore. The simple answers this. Yes, Barry and I know how to make babies, and we also know how to use birth control. We didn't always choose to get pregnant, however, we considered every pregnancy a blessing and in Gods time. WE did always want a big family, and I was very fortunate to be able to get pregnant quite quickly after I stopped nursing, which was usually for the first year. In fact, my grandma used to joke with me, and say, "All Barry has to do is hang his pants on the bedpost, and you get pregnant." Grandma was feisty!!
So we had the seven children in nine years. I was 22 when we got married, I was 23 when we had our first, and I was 32 when we had our last.(this is when you stop and read that again because it all happened so fast, I know). I was pregnant or nursing for 10 years straight, and I was a sickly pregnant momma, usually spending a portion of every pregnancy in hospital with kidney issues. I appreciated what my new friend had said, because she was right, it is a lot. it is a lot of time, and money, a lot of sleepless nights, and responsibility, a lot of stress and sacrifice, but it is so much more than that. At no point did Barry and I decide that we would have a big family, and then expect handouts and sympathy for the sacrifices that we have to make. We consider it a privilege to be able to raise these seven amazing children. They are not ours, they are gifts given to us, and we just do our vey best every day, to pour love and respect and guidance and nurturing into their lives.
So yes, it is all of those things, but it is also laughs, and hugs, and music and singing, and football games, and braiding hair, and snuggles and kisses multiplied over and over again. This house is busy, and I explained it to my new friend. there is always lots going on. It was very busy and very crazy when the kids were younger, and I would function on sometimes 3 hours of sleep. But I am coming into a different season in my life. As the kids grow, as we all grow, I am able to appreciate every moment. The tough sleepless nights, the quiet mornings, the arguments, the sharing, the laundry, the meals around our table. We have something very special, and I know that.
So after all of the questions, and there were lots, we got back to our fondue. She still couldn't believe that I had so many children, and sometimes, neither can I. Sometimes, I really don't feel like I can take on all that comes with raising seven children. Sometimes I doubt myself, and I wonder if I am doing the right things for my family, and sometimes, I don't feel like I deserve all that I have been given. But she left with a different look on her face. She encouraged me and she made me feel less like an alien and more like a really great mom.
On my drive home, I decided that I probably need to try and get out with other woman a little more. I can learn from them, and they can learn from me. We have so many wonderful things to offer one another, getting together is really good. My new plan, is to try and leave something and take something,(not actually, that would just be wrong:).I want to leave something with someone that they will remember and be able to apply to their life, and I want to take home something of the same. I know that I have a different respect, for the benefits of dark chocolate and whole grain crackers, but I also made a new friend and she gave be a boost, a little push to keep going as a mother, and to keep sacrificing and doing what I feel I do best. And I think she went home with a few things from me as well.