I totally sweat the small stuff.
You’d think I wouldn’t, right? I mean, six kids. Yikes. Probably doesn’t have time to worry about details. But that’s exactly why the little things take on so much importance. For the same reason I make an effort to keep my social media accounts positive (honest, but positive), it’s also important to me to not let my family’s size make me overlook the details. I want to be a good Large Family Ambassador, to show that large families are a blessing, not a curse. So, all of the following create way more anxiety than they’re worth:
– When we are late, or the slightest possibility exists that we might be late
– When one of my boys is clearly overdue for a haircut
– The possibility that my child might be the last one picked up at practice
– That I can’t always stay and watch my child practice
– When my children are wearing clothes that aren’t weather appropriate
or clothes that don’t match at all
or clothes that are clearly too small or too big
– When I don’t help my child with his school project, so the project looks like I didn’t help him with his project
– When any of them misbehaves in public
– That I might be feeding them too much sugar or not enough vegetables
– That they watch too much tv
– That I don’t listen enough
– That maybe I should get them that dog, because kids should have a pet
– That they watch too much tv
– That I ask them to do too much
– That I ask them to do too little
I think parents of one child, or two, or three worry about these things too. What amplifies it for me stems from fear of judgement.
There, I said it. Healthy dose of fear of judgement with a generous sprinkling of good old-fashioned guilt. I know it shouldn’t bother me, and I’m working on it, but I’m afraid of being judged. Or more accurately, I am afraid of being judged based solely on the size of my family.
I know our family is different because it has more people in it than most, but I hate the idea that people might think that I (or general “you”) can’t be a good parent because of it.
Before you tell me it’s all in my head, please stop for a second and remember the magic of the internet and its glorious comments sections. Remember that poor family that lost a little boy a year ago while on vacation in Florida? Remember the backlash of “Well if she’d only been next to her kid…” (even though the father was)? Now imagine if they’d had five other children to watch, or six or seven. How might the judgement have gone then? It doesn’t matter that a mother of two is no better equipped to wrestle a gator than a mother of seven. And only children sometimes need haircuts or outgrow clothes or are late just like children with many brothers and sisters. But for some reason, when it comes to larger families, “Susie’s mismatched outfit is so cute” turns into “Susie’s mom has so many kids she can’t even bother to dress her kid properly”. So yes, I think twice before letting the girls wear those Punky Brewster-esqe getups to Publix. And “Oh, look at that toddler throwing a fit. Two-year-olds certainly have a mind of their own!” turns into “That lady has so many kids with her she can’t even control them. Bless her heart.” So yes, I immediately stress out when my kids are being too loud when we’re out, or running around where they shouldn’t.
I know. Stop reading the comments, right? All parents think about these things. Those people’s opinions don’t matter. And those who say things directly to me such as “Well we wouldn’t expect you to worry about x or y with all those kids to handle…” probably have good intentions. I know.
I know. And still (in my head?) there’s that tiny voice that says “Well, maybe if you didn’t have six kids…”.
I could, what? Never be late? Eat all organic? Probably not. But knowing won’t keep me from paying attention to the little things, making sure my children thrive in the family they’ve been given, with the mother they’ve been given. Thrive because of, not despite. And I do think they are thriving. They love us, each other, and God. So I might sweat the small stuff, but by the grace of God and a whole lotta prayer, I have faith that we’re getting the big stuff right.