I was at the doctor's office yesterday with all the kids in tow, for vaccinations for my baby. While it wasn't always so, after the last few babies I can count on my doctor, once the little one is a couple of months old, to say, "so, when are we doing this again?" Not going back to work gives me a real freedom when it comes to planning our next baby, so I shared that while I didn't know just yet, Jeff and I are both noticing how fast Aaron is growing up, and that we both miss having a newborn in the house. She just smiled and said, "I don't know how you do it - I mean, and keep your sanity!" I laughed, and said, "sometimes I don't!"
As I left the doctor's office, I realized that the moments when I feel like I'm losing my sanity have little to do with the kids. More than that, I truly believe my children are what ground me, and keep me from going completely crazy much sooner than I do. They are there, every day, and I can always count on them to guide me and provide purpose in my life. I don't wake up in the morning wondering, "what am I going to do today?", or laze around while life just passes me by. As soon as my feet hit the floor I am smack in the middle of life - all I have to do is go with it!
One of the things that was brought into the world through original sin was that we would have to work for the things that matter most to us. I often wish I could take a vacation with Jeff and the kids, and just relax and have nothing to do but enjoy life. And I think this is good - because this is what we were made for; and in fact, will live one day. But it is not possible on this earth. And while vacations give us much-needed moments of relaxation and getting away from it all, the reality as we all know is that there is a price to pay for vacation. We come home groggy from our trip to do laundry, clean house, and work double-hard to get back into the routine of every day life. It's in doing the duties of every day life with joy that we find our true happiness in this life, our eyes set on the eternal vacation and rest that awaits us in the next.
I think that's why I'm much happier with five children than I was with two. Because with two children, I was still clinging to that desire for "a break". And if I tried hard enough, I could get it. That lead to a false sense of control, and consequently disappointment when the responsibilities of life came knocking all too soon. But with five children, your idea of a break changes. It's no longer dropping the kids off at the sitter's to have a day to yourself, but rather taking just two or three of them with you to the grocery store, and stopping for ice cream on the way home. It's no longer watching TV while the kids nap, but painting with your older kids while your babies nap. It's in the work that I find my true fulfillment - having more children helps me to keep my sanity far better than I ever did with less!
Not that I'm perfect. Someday, when my kids are old enough to read my notes, they'll tell you otherwise. But I do feel like I know more than I did when I first started having children. And I know there is still so very much more for me to learn. Here's to family, babies, and journeying down the road that leads me ever closer to sanity!