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I am a “big picture” type person. I like to have long term goals and then focus on smaller goals in the present that all build to reach that larger goal in the future.
It is easy to lose sight of the big picture of life when you have a new baby. Especially when it’s your third baby. Life right now for me is filled with daily (sometimes hourly!) ups and downs. One minute everything will be running smoothly and the next I will feel like curling up in a ball and just calling it quits due to frustration and exhaustion. My goal often becomes to just get through the day rather than seeing that larger picture.
Having three children has changed my life in ways I didn’t expect. I knew we’d be “outnumbered” but I didn’t fully grasp what that would come to mean. For me, so far, it means never feeling caught up. The house is never fully clean anymore. It may be picked up but still need vacuuming. The counters may be wiped down but the floor isn’t swept. I’m also not fully ready for the day anymore. I may have on makeup but still be in pjs. Or be dressed but have my hair in a pony. Even in (brief) moments of rest I can’t relax because I look around and see SO much I have to do. It can be exhausting. It can be draining. It can leave me at the end of the day feeling defeated.
People so often say “you’ll look back someday and miss this.” And I agree. I’m sure I will. I don’t think I will miss the messiness. Or the sleep training. Or the spit up. Or the toddler meal struggles. Or the sibling bickering. But I’m sure I will miss the sweet moments. The cuddles. The snuggles. The kisses.
Yesterday was one of those days for me where I wasn’t even sure I would be able to survive the day. I felt like throwing in the towel long before dinner time even arrived. Zach took the older kids to Bible Class at church so I had some quiet time while I was nursing. I decided to start catching up on episodes of Parenthood (I’m an entire season behind so don’t tell me anything!) and it was an episode where one of the characters was dealing with separating from her husband. She was at home alone for the first time while her kids were visiting their dad for the weekend. In one scene her siblings each arrived at her house to offer comfort and to help distract her from her loneliness and pain.
I started crying watching that scene. Of course I hope my children never experience the pains of divorce. But I know they will have tough times in life. They will have their hearts broken. Be disappointed. Make mistakes. And when that happens they will have siblings to be there for them. My tears flowed because in that simple moment I was reminded of my long term goal.
When life is tough it’s easy to think “OMG why did I sign up for three kids? What was I thinking?!?! Do I really want MORE?!?!” But then I saw that scene. Those siblings being there for each other. And my heart was filled with joy and happiness thinking about Zach and I someday being grandparents and watching our children as adults. Seeing them have their own relationships together that don’t involve us. Whispering secrets. Sharing inside jokes. Being friends and being there for each other through thick and thin.
In my own life this sibling bond is not something I have experienced and it makes my desire to give that gift to my children even stronger. As parents we naturally want more for our children than we had growing up. For my children I want them to know more love than I ever knew within my family. I want them to know they have people who will always be there for them. Will always stand up for them. Will always do all we can to protect them from the pains of the world. And it’s not just about our children having Zach and I. It’s about them having each other.
I have always wanted a large family so that our kids would have lots of siblings. Yes, parenting many children is not easy. But I know that it will be so amazing to watch them grow up together. Last summer we went to the beach and visited our hotel pool for an afternoon. We saw four older age children all come to the pool together. They were laughing and playing games together. We talked to them and found out that they were all siblings. That was another “moment of clarity” for me.
Thinking about the tv show last night I see that as my longterm parenting goal. Seeing the children at the pool that day is a shorter term goal. This is the hard time of life in order to achieve those goals. In just a few years (which I’m sure will fly by quicker than I’d like!) my kids will be the ones playing at a hotel pool together. They will be the ones staying up late giggling in the hotel room bed. They will be friends and confidants and truly have fun together in a way that they just aren’t able to yet at their young ages.
Then one day they will grow up and have their own children. Zach and I will get to experience the special bond grandparents have and we will get to experience watching our children go through the tough early years of parenting. My prayer is that I can stay strong during MY tough parenting phase so that we can enjoy the blessings of seeing our children become amazing adults.
Sometimes we all just need to be reminded of our “why” in life. I have always wanted lots of children and last night reminded me WHY. It recharged me and revitalized my love of parenting. The days are long. They are often very, very tough. But they will be so worth it!
Once I started visualizing that long term goal I started to see things in a new way. How Kye helps Britt get her silverware for breakfast. The way he kisses on Tess and talks so sweetly to her. When Britt says she misses Kye while he is at school. The way Tess’s face lights up and she has a huge grin anytime she sees her siblings. Those bonds are already there. They already share such love for each other. We have already blessed their lives so much by giving them the gift of siblings.
Seeing that makes my heart full and the tough moments much easier to handle. My “big picture” isn’t something that is far away in the distance. It’s here and now and I’m truly living the dream I always have wanted.