Sink or Swim

I recently read a few articles/blogposts/rants about the topics of marrying young, and large families. Now, this used to be the trend. People in the US used to marry young across the board and almost everyone had a large family. The social trend for this country has vastly changed and now it’s not uncommon for people to wait til their late 20’s or 30’s or later before getting married and starting a family. I hear the pros and cons of both sides of it, and frankly I just don’t feel like I can tell anyone else what they should or shouldn’t do. A large part of our lives is determined by the choices we make and the other part is determined by nothing you could expect or plan for. Whatever floats your boat, man. We’ve got freedom, flags, and eagles and stuff so we can all make our own choices. I’m down with that. 

I’m not down with being dissed because my choices are different than someone elses. I get it if someone doesn’t want a large family, but to say I’m stupid because I have one is not only rude, it reeks of insecurity. You know how in elementary school they used to always tell us that kids who picked on other kids did it to make themselves feel better? Yeah, that’s what I think of you when you say I’m dumb because I have a large family. Just saying. In other words, I’m rubber, you’re glue . . . . ..

I’ve composed a list of things I’ve learned (for your reading enjoyment) from being married since I was 19, and having *soontobe* 6 children. 
*My life is not about me. I want it to be about me. Sometimes I still try to make it about me, then it all crashes and burns. When I sit down at the table in the morning and think longingly about those people who are having coffee and quiet time with a nice devotional book, as they sit at a table with pretty flowers on it next to a picturesque window. I glance across the room at the devotional books and then someone in another room starts yelling, “Mommy, I gotta pee!” or I remember it’s breakfast time and I haven’t made lunches for school yet and oh shoot, I forgot to toss those jeans in the dryer and they’re still in the washing machine. Sometimes what I want for me isn’t what’s best for other people. This is a part of marriage that is vital. Not just to the marriage itself but to growth of the people in it. It’s still the part I struggle with the most. I like me and I do a good job of getting in the way of others. That doesn’t help anyone. Marriage teaches you that. Fast and repeatedly.

*knowledge is power. The more I learn about different things, the better equipped I am to handle them when I get there myself. If I know to ask certain questions or to press for more action from others, I can actually get somewhere rather than giving up early in the game. When I was a teenager, my dad told me once, “God gave you a brain so you could use it. THINK about stuff before you do it.”

*I am not in control. All the planning in the world doesn’t guarantee an outcome. No matter how well-prepared we are, life tosses things at us we can never expect. This, should be taught from a very young age. Expect the unexpected. My mom once told me, “If you wait to do something until you think you’re totally ready, you’ll never do it.” (mayhap this difference in philosophy contributed to the fact hat my parents aren’t married to one another . . . . ) However, she had a point. A lot of the flak I’ve received was from people with 0 or 1 children who couldn’t imagine the shocking costs of going up in a number. Sometimes you don’t plan out life, it happens to you and you adjust as you go. You don’t know how you’re going to make it or do it but then years later you barely remember the transition. It was sink or swim, and you managed to swim without looking back. It doesn’t do any good to pick someone else apart because you forgot you’re on step two and they’re on step 20 and they had to take the steps in the middle themselves. 

*It’s okay to ask for help. This one is hard for me. I’ve been self sufficient for a very long time. This gal moved out of the house BEFORE she was 18. I’ve been working a paying job since I was 14. I don’t like to ask for help. I like to get it done myself. But sometimes, you gotta ask for help. People are made to help each other. It does good for the helper and for the helpee. 

*It doesn’t matter how much you have, what matters is your relationships with people. I can get bogged down because I don’t feel like my house is big enough and my car isn’t reliable enough. I’d love to just be able to go buy whatever we wanted or needed without having to always make some kind of plan/contingency plan. In all honesty though, the time I got to spend laughing with, teaching, or arguing with all my zillion kids and my husband is way  more important than whether or not they had their own room, or all their clothes were new. Each day I got with them was a gift. Because they are people, and I’m their mom-person. And no one else gets to be their mom-person. And It doesn’t have to be flowers and happy and snuggles all the time. We get to argue and learn and I get to sometimes say I’m sorry for yelling because I was so dad.gum.frustrated, again, and they get to learn that moms are people too and it’s okay to not be perfect. It’s okay to be sorry. In marriage, you learn about loving people in spite of their flaws, because the more you see their flaws you have to either walk away or realize that they are seeing your flaws too. This is love. The idea that you are not the perfect person I imagine, but a genuine human being that I have promised to love and care for in spite of the fact that you are not perfect. Because I want you to love me in spite of the same thing.  The kids get to learn mom loves them not based on the stuff we have but because she’s mom. And they’ll in turn love people not because of the stuff they have but because of who they are. That’s a pretty big deal. It’s bigger than big houses and fancy cars and laptops for everyone. Even though my 9 year old would still like laptops for everyone, or at least for his own personal use. Hey, it’s a journey.

*I don’t really know that much. As a marriage participant for 15.5 years, a college graduate and mother of, well, I lose count, I know one thing. That thing is this. I don’t know everything. In fact, the more I think I know, the less I probably actually know. That being said, you can take this entire post with a grain of salt. Next year life will likely throw me for some big loop and I’ll read this and think to myself, I was such an idiot. As I get older the world gets bigger even while it gets smaller and things look different. I think to myself, what do I even know? I know I love my family. I don’t regret my choices.  And at the end of it, I’ll agree with Forrest Gump.

“At least I didn’t lead no humdrum life.”











14 comments on “Sink or Swim

  1. Shannon says:

    I like. a lot. I just smile every time I see your boys all lined up like that. 🙂

  2. Audrey says:

    I find it appalling how judgmental people are about family size. It’s really no one’s business!
    Funny thing about the cost of more children- it’s something I don’t even think of when thinking of having another. If you are frugal, another child doesn’t cost *that* much more to clothe and feed, especially not at first.

    You are a wise and funny woman, my friend! Loved this post and love that you are working on that sixth son 😉 You are living proof that there are things in life outside of our control!

  3. mrswrangler says:

    Timing is different for everyone. When it’s suppose to happen it will.

  4. I love seeing pics of your family and hearing what is going on with y’all. Now, I won’t lie, I’m glad it’s not me with soon to be 6 boys 😉 b/c God knows I had enough trouble with my three boys..but I don’t judge or disrespect anyone b/c of their choices (or in some cases lack of choice on their part) being zero children or 19. I think you and Steven have it ‘going on’ pretty darn good. Your boys are happy, fun, smart and learning about faith and Abba. I don’t think it’s gets any better than that–Sure there are problems, issues, etc but there are those same things with any family (again no matter if they do or don’t have children and despite how many or few children they may have). It’s all in the raising, the view of marriage and family. My hat is off to you and Steven for sure. Besides, apparently Abba wanted y’all to have another child. 😉 love and hugs.

  5. amber says:

    i always marvel at the depth in which you talk from – so much composure {for lack of a better word} and just realness.

    so true that anyone who acts threatened by someone’s choices different than theirs is usually just a sign of insecurity. we are all called to different journey’s and perhaps marrying young and having half a dozen kids isn’t for everyone. however, i do notice the trend towards not only people marrying older in life, but the attitude towards marriage and kids in general.

    just a few days ago while checking out in a store i was chatting with the salesgirl and she mentioned wanting kids but being scared to. she said she was 25 and felt she needed to make her mind up about it. when i told her i had 4 she near flipped {imagine if i were you and said, six!!} 😉 anyway, i told her it was easy to feel that while she was young and wanted to be “free” and do what she wanted, but someday when she was 40 or 50, i think it would be a choice she would regret if she chose not to~ and reminded her how she would have felt if her parents chose not to have her! haha. there seems to be an incredible selfishness in young people today. such a narcissistic culture. it doesn’t go away with having kids, but it sure does curve it tremendously. not just living for others because you want to, but living for others because you have to! as i said to the salesgirl – marriage and raising kids is hard work, but the rewards far outweigh the regret of not being brave enough to try!

    love your heart, friend. as always~

  6. chambray7 says:

    Funny i just left a comment on another blog about how it seems the older i get, the less i know, and then i came over here….:-) yep, somehow life seems to let us in on that secret over time 🙂

  7. I have my own little amen corner going on here. 🙂 amen. and amen. and amen to this post and all of the profound “listed” wisdom that you shared. life’s like a box of chocolates for sure. 😉

  8. Like Cindy, I’m in a little AMEN corner here too. 🙂 I love your depth of wisdom and honestly and yet graciousness and tact. You speak so wisely but without coming across harshly and combative. I just really like you. 🙂 Such great words here!

    So interesting how when you’re older you have such a different perspective on life than say, at twenty. And it makes you want to tell ALL twenty-year olds what you now know!! Except, to them it doesn’t sound all that wise or amazing, like we KNOW it to be. Ha!

  9. jennie z says:

    I read this awhile ago and loved it – it’s right on! anyways, I wanted to get back here and comment my approval of the post. haha;) anyways, I always enjoy reading your ‘stuff’.

    have a good week!

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