With four children, I guess we qualify as a "large family." I make that guess based on the comments of, "Wow, you must be busy." or "I could never handle that." or "You know what causes that right?" or just the general stares we sometimes get. I don't really consider us a large family, but that's because to me we are just us.
I'd venture to guess that all parents have a few surprises that caught them off guard about bringing a new little person into the house. Today, I'm going to share what has surprised me about having my "large family."
#1- They may have names, but their real names always start with "I mean...." So Ya-ya is "Ranger, Sparky, I mean Ya-ya" At one point I felt guilty about always calling them by the wrong name, but I got over it. I do the best I can. They are lucky when I don't say, "You, the tall one." or "Hey shorty".
#2- There are now 100 nails I'm in charge of. I cut fingernails and toenails all the time. It is really insane. I practically jumped for joy when Ya-ya learned to do it herself. I guess it is a sign of healthy kids, but their nails grow and grow. Sometimes I will look down to grab a hand in a parking lot and instead I get a claw. And nothing ruins a Saturday morning snuggle like your child stabbing you like a pin cushion.
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#3- There is only so much planning you can do. I'm a stickler for being on time. And I know it takes 5-10 minutes to load the car, get buckled, and actually get on the road. So I plan for that. But what surprises me is that we can all be standing at the door with shoes on ready to walk out the door and suddenly..... someone is naked, or missing, or thowing up. I mean it. All of those have happened. I can plan and prepare till I turn blue, and something will come up and make life unpredictable.
#4- They are each their own people. When Ya-ya was born I read all the books and did everything "right." I then had the perfect child who took naps, cleaned up her toys, and obeyed her mom. I was a great parent. Then I had Sparky. I did all the same things, kept all the same routines, and had a child who didn't sleep and who is independent and fierce. I realized God served me a dose of humility. Ya-ya is who she is, not because of my "expert" parenting but because of who she is. And Sparky is a different person. Then we followed up with Ranger and Pixie, who are just as unique. They all physically favor each other, but hang around for 5 minutes and you'll quickly figure out the differences. The lesson for Tall One and I is to build on each girl's strengths and support their challenges.
#5- This too shall pass. The good and the bad. The sleepless nights of infancy (and beyond as is the case with Sparky) and the wonderful joy of first words. Everything that seems huge or tiny is in our life for such a short time. Just when Ya-ya and I are at each others throats about cleaning her room, I wake up one day and it is over. Granted, some other issue arrives, but at least it is different. Now, when Pixie is having a temper tantrum over wearing the same dress for days in a row, I remember that it is just a phase an it will end. She won't go to kindergarten wearing the same dress. The knowledge gives me peace to make it through the tough stuff and reminds me to slow down and remember to play dolls or Battleship and to listen when they talk.
#6- I will never, ever match up all the socks. This is not really a surprise. The surprise has been how many unmatched socks accumulate and how many of them I don't remember ever seeing before. Where did they come from?