Life is Funny

I remember, when we were first married (fifteen years ago, next month!), and then found out shortly afterwards that we were pregnant. Everything seemed overwhelming. I was so excited to become a mother, but so afraid to make mistakes.

I’m a realist. I knew that I was going to mess up, I was just praying that my goof ups would be minor.
I brought Andrew home from the hospital (looking over my shoulder, sure that a nurse would “reclaim” him), and sat down in my rocking chair, and nursed him for the first time in our little apartment, and a wave of dread washed over me. I realized that I was going to have to nurse this stranger 8-12 times a day for much of the not so distant future. Little did I know that nursing would be the easy part. Later would come the tough choices, whether to immunize, and what against. How to educate him. What sport if any to encourage. Sunblock or hat.
Every day I came across decisions I never thought I would have to make, and hardly felt adult enough to make. My mom was there for a week. I was thankful for the help. In some ways though, our relationship complicated things. She wanted what was best for me and her first grand baby, but she was not the mom. I wanted what was best, but did not always know what the best was. Sometimes our theories on parenting meshed, other times they clashed.
That first child, my now teenage son (who is fabulous), was a grand experiment. Some things I never did repeat. I took the advice to let him cry it out in his crib. It was torture for me, and him, and none of us slept. I ditched that advice. I’m sure it does work for some, but they either have larger houses than me, or a stronger will. Some things I carried through with all six of the kids. All of my children have been breastfed. Most of them have worn cloth diapers at least part time. I have spent hour upon hour reading and singing to all of my children.
Some things get easier. Once some of the big decisions are made for a first child, you hardly think them over again. Breastfeeding to me is second nature, and I can’t imagine a different feeding route for my children. Rocking my children to sleep is more of a privilege and less of a chore. After several children, I have learned that ALL kids eventually learn to fall asleep. Some take longer than others, and some like to sleep in odd places, but all of them eventually sleep.
Fifteen years ago, I THOUGHT that I wanted six children. Then I had one child, and I realized motherhood was tough. I was not sure how many children God would bless us with, but some days it felt like one was enough. It was hard to pay bills, I was not sleeping, and I worried about my sweet little boy. Through the years, our family grew, and grew, and grew. We even thought that we had grown as much as we would.
And then God decided to challenge me. He figured that I had learned all about boys. He also figured that one baby girl would not give me the full experience. So he gave me two! And now this self professed “boy mom”, this pants wearing, ribbon and bow avoiding, tights fearing woman has a room bursting with pink and ribbons and frills and tights. And you know what?
God is good. All the time.
He is good when I am blessed with one son. He is good when he blesses me with four sons. He is even good when he blesses me with two daughters at once.
A friend today was telling me about a t-shirt that said “singletons are for wimps”. I had a chuckle at that. It is true. God knew EXACTLY when I could handle the joy of mothering a set of multiples. It was not 15 years ago, or even five years ago. He knew that I was ready before I even knew.
I think I’m doing OK. I’ve had to rewrite my own parenting manual. I still won’t let my kids cry in the crib. This gets me a bit less sleep than others, but I’m still sleeping more than when I was pregnant! I’m figuring out how to give each girl what she needs, when she needs it, and to still have time to love on and guide our sons.
God did not want me to think that I knew it all. He likes to give me challenges.
I bet he does the same for you as well. Has God been stretching you lately? Has He been asking you to step outside of your preconceived notions about something? Has He managed to change your mind?
I’d love to hear about it.

Don’t Sweat the Small Stuff

My friend genny wrote a post about her family creed and how it helped her teach her children right from wrong. She pointed out how at one point it was super important to repeat the words almost daily, and as her children got older, the words had an imprint on them and less repetition was needed.

This got me thinking about some of the rules of our house. We cover quite an age range, from 13 down to newborn…so our house rules tend to be dynamic…I rarely have to remind the teen to share, but I do have to remind him to use kind words. We’ve tried having family meetings to determine fair rules, and we have run the disciplinary gamut from natural consequences to monetary fines.
In the end though, I’ve found we have a few hard and fast rules for being Thompsons…and they may sound funny to some.
A first is, “We do hard things”. I read this saying back when we were home schooling. A rather prominent home school family had adopted this as their family motto, and we did the same. I don’t tend to let my children off easily. I think that they are capable of great things, and I believe in the value of a good challenge. So when there are complaints about a school assignment or chore being too difficult, any one of us will respond with “do hard things!”
A second Thompson house rule also comes from my home schooling days. The first Latin phrase we learned as a family is “ora et labora”, which translates to “pray and work”. this phrase sums up what our family does. Prayer is an integral part of our family life. Our faith is very important to us, and we work together…how else can we keep a family of eight running even somewhat smoothly? The boys also loved this family motto because being in Latin, it made them feel pretty smart!
And a third principle…not really a rule per se, is to limit our rules. When my children were all in the preschool stages, and I found myself saying no almost endlessly, I read a very insightful book. I cannot remember the name of the book, but I remember what I learned from it…even though I need to be reminded often. The author gave the sage advice to choose three rules that you are willing to go to battle over. These rules will vary by family. For some families table manners reign supreme, for others, clothes that match may be important and for others not fighting with siblings comes first. The advice was to choose these three important rules, and then the rest of the things are just small stuff…which we don’t sweat! Over time, our three rules have changed. One is always at the top of the list though; we worship together as a family. Really, the rest is just small stuff.
It is funny, the longer I’m a mom, I see that most of the things I used to worry about…is all small stuff!
What are the rules to live by in your family? I always love to hear how others keep things running smoothly!

My New Normal

This morning I realized that I am finally a full time stay at home mom again! It is totally official. The other day, after feeding Emily in the NICU I stopped downstairs to pre-op to say hi to the co-workers. My manager was there, so I took the time to sign my paperwork terminating my position. I could have stayed on as help-out status, but really…I’m not in the mood to help out at this point. If I ever decide to go back, I’ll reapply…they’ll take me back!

I’ve been home full time since the beginning of November when I measured full term. But I was at home on modified bedrest. We ate a lot of take out. I had to let the house really slide. I had to focus on growing healthy babies. I think I did a pretty good job. I carried twins to 38 weeks, and could have gone longer, if I was not so terribly uncomfortable and if were deemed beneficial. I’m actually thankful they were born when they were, my brain keeps going back to the tracheal web that Emily was born with and I wonder if it would not have grown thicker the longer she was in the womb? We’ll never be sure. What I am sure of is that there was a miracle that took place a week ago today, God spared Emily’s life and I will be forever thankful.

So, now that I’ve had a few good nights of new mom sleep (which is not like regular sleep…but is new normal for new moms), I feel so much better…and I feel like a full time mom again. I feel like I can have a bit more patience with my older children and I am feeling like a slightly better manger here at home. It is going to take me a while to establish and re-establish my routines, but for now, I’m happy that my bed is made and the breakfast dishes are done…the laundry is under control again, finally.

I know that I will still have crazy days ahead of me where I will struggle, and my hormones still make me cry for no real good reason…but for now, I am embracing full time momhood again! This is the vocation I have truly been called to, and I am rejoicing in the privilege of mothering six beautiful children…what an awesome responsibility and what a rewarding opportunity!

Soli Deo Gloria!

Monday, Monday

I know people are wondering, and after last week, I can hardly believe it myself, but I am still pregnant. 36 weeks 4 days pregnant to be exact.

I am so pregnant that my clothes no longer fit…none of them. Everything looks silly or feels tight, and usually both.

I am so pregnant that I either sleep really well, or I don’t sleep at all. there is no in between.

I am so pregnant that my chest looks small. I’m gifted in the chest department…so that is a pretty big deal.

I am so pregnant that my kids are pretty sure that at this point I’ve just gained a lot of weight, that there are no babies coming.

I am so pregnant that my stretch marks have stretch marks.

I’ve been pregnant longer than this…but this STILL feels like my longest pregnancy.

I’ve been through stressful situations in all of my pregnancies, but I think this time tops it all. So now I’m to the point where all I can do is trust in God, and focus on my primary vocation:wife and mother. I’ve enjoyed Christmas break and getting to snuggle in with the little ones and read them lots of books. I’ve played video games with the big one and listened to all of his technical jargon. I’ve looked at the drawings and creations of the middle one and got to enjoy watching that glimmer in his eye. My kids rock!

These girls are going to be awesome too. If nothing else, they prolong the empty nest for a few more years!

I know that I can’t freeze time with these guys, but there are days that I just want to, when look at them and say “it just doesn’t get better than this.”

But you know what? A year later you look on the same kids and say the same thing…which means that it does just keep getting better…even with the mess, and the rolled eyes and the holey socks, and the stinky hair, they still are God’s wonderful gift to me (and to the Rev as well!)

So at this point..I can look at my swollen tummy and at my bags packed and ready for the big day…whenever that may be, and I can say “it just doesn’t get better than this” and know for certain that it really will be better than this…and I’m going to love every minute of it!

Gobbles and Lies

Once a upon a time, when I was a stay at home mother of but one or two young charges and for about the five days during this time period in which I was not pregnant and sluggish, I had a company ready home. You know what I am talking about. I had the type of home in which I did not have to apologize to anyone who would show up at the door unannounced.

It was not easy. I had to work really hard to keep the house this way. It helped that at the time our house was about 700 square feet. The blessing of a small home is that it cleans up quickly.
Fast forward to today. I have recently returned to full time stay at home motherhood, but I am pregnant with twins…and I have four sons. I have four sons who leave destruction in their wake. I live with a very neat husband. (I am thankful for that). I am a messy by nature. My home is no longer company ready at all times. And, it is no longer 700 square feet…it is much larger.
Which brings me to my plans for a busy Thanksgiving eve. The children have a half day of school and have been warned that their afternoon fun will include sweeping, dusting and vacuuming. They may be asking their teachers to stay at school for the afternoon to work on math facts. They are this excited about the afternoon prospects.
I look forward to the reason that we need to have this day. Good friends from Minnesota will be sharing our fourth Thanksgiving in a row with us. It is getting to the point where Thanksgiving would not be the same without them.
For them, we will scrub and polish and cook and even watch football on television.
The whole clean up scene reminds me of what our neighbor boy, Sam, referenced one day as his mother insisted that the whole family pitch in and clean house in preparation for guests. Sam, in all sincerity asked, “isn’t that like lying?”. Yes, Sam, cleaning before company comes may be a lie, but I’m not sure that even our best friends can handle, or should have to endure the truth!
Happy cleaning day everyone…and have a wonderful Thanksgiving tomorrow!