January 18, 2007

Life when they were ALL little...

Kimm writes:

Hi Jerri, Just a few ideas for you.
What was your life like when you had all littles and no big kids to help much?

What was homeschooling like for you at the beginning?

How do you handle postpartum and illness with so many little ones needing you physically?

Kimm, great questions! Here goes:

Wish I had digital pictures from when my older kids were all little, but I don't. I found this one from Dec. 2004 and as you can see (click on the image to see a larger version) the little people still outnumber the older ones. When this pic was taken there were seven children nine years old and younger. There are still times when I don't have any of my older helpers around and I have to take care of all the little ones on my own (there is a nine day trip usually in Aug. when the older kids, and last year dad too, are gone). It isn't easy, but I manage to survive. Last year that meant seven children 10 and under with me, without Dad or older sibs. So, I guess what I'm saying is if you have a large family (eventually, maybe) the solutions you find that help you through the early years when all the children are under, say, ten years old, will be your tried and true friends as the years go on and you still have young children in your home.

But I digress....

Back when my oldest four were age six and under (they were all boys, by the way) my life was very different than it is now. My life was less stressful and less busy (there is nothing like having teenagers who need rides here and there and that work and have schedules of their own to keep to make life a bit stressful for the parents! LOL!), because most younger children are not involved in many out of the home activities (our personal choice not to be in sports for tiny tots, preschool, extra church programs, etc.), I was home most of the time. I had much lower expectations (well, in all honesty, I learned to lower my expectations for myself, my home, etc. during these early years). My sisters will tell you **gulp** I didn't do the dishes till the sink was overflowing. Ahem.... I spent my time training my boys to do chores (never too young to start!), discipline, playing together and eventually doing school together. We did park days with friends from church, a highlight of our week. Life was, simply put, more simple.

When life got a little easier, I would begin to add in more to our lives and when it was hard, I'd take away stuff till we had an even balance again. We made it through four successful pregnancies, an ectopic and five miscarriages before my oldest turned seven. I nursed all but my first baby (tried, no support, had bad, bad problems,etc.), almost lost my husband to a ruptured appendix and peritonitis, moved three times, sold Christmas Around The World, Tupperware and Country Neighbors "on the side" (different years) and was even successful at it (ALL God for sure!). Our life was, well ....just real life. Ups and downs, busy times,slow times, job loss, pregnancies that went great, one that required 4 months of bed rest, being broke and being blessed through it all.

Through all this, God was by my side. I didn't always have time to be in a Bible Study group at church. I didn't always have time to read my Bible or keep a prayer journal. I sent up "arrow" prayers as I could. God KNEW my heart, after all, He placed me here to raise my family and knew some of these years are very busy. He didn't leave me, He was always there to carry me when I was weak.

On the practical side, during bed rest, recovery or illness the children would climb in bed with me and we would read or watch movies till Daddy got home. Or I would camp on the couch and could direct and oversee them from there. Even small children can get something mommy instructs them to get. When children napped, mommy napped too! Sure laundry would get behind, or those dishes, ahem, maybe dinners were not high cuisine, but no one went hungry. Life was rich and full of the business of raising a family.

Did I ever get discouraged? Sure. I was tired a lot. It seemed diapers, nursing, potty training, doing all the housework myself would never end. Then, I'd go to bed, get a decent amount of sleep and have a totally different perspective the next day (Thank You LORD!).What a difference sleep makes for me and my emotions! Did I ever envy the families with older children (still do sometimes, those with teenage daughters...really, teenage boys are just not the same as teenage daughters, and my oldest girl is 8...the irony is that when I finally get my very own teenage girls, I will have a flood of them! LOL! Being as my girls are 8,6,5,3 and 1 right now, I will have a 19,17,16,14 and 12 year old at the same time in eleven years! Oh did I have to figure out that calculation? Is it really THAT long till they are all those ages? **sigh**)? You know the ones who had "built-in" babysitters, had kids who did some of the major chores (like washing dishes! Ahem...), and washed their own cloths, some even had kids who helped with the cooking and the babies! Lots to envy, thinking their grass was greener. I know better now. Along with all those nicer things goes a lot of hard work, and prayer, getting them there and keeping them there!

As far as homeschooling went, the first year I had one child, the second year two, the fourth year three and so on and so on. As part of God's perfect plan, He started me out small (one student) and over time grew me and my abilities to do more. We've had good school years and not so good school years. Years when mommy was pregnant and would fall asleep every time a child would TRY to do their reading lesson. LOL We didn't try to do all the subjects the public schools do, like science and history, but focused on the basics. We did school when the baby , whoever that was at the time, was napping. We did school between nursing times. If we had sick kids, we had a sick day. If the teacher, mom, was sick or too tired from being up all night with a fussy baby, we had a Teacher-Out-Of-Service Day (our answer to the Teacher In-Service days in public schools - aren't they in service every school day? Huh?).

Balance. It is all about balance, no matter what season of childbearing, homeschooling and/or parenting you are in. Don't envy those with older children. They "paid their dues" to get where they are, believe me! Instead, look at them and rejoice that someday, not that far away, you will have some older kids to help lighten your load. I'm so thankful God gives us our first children when we are still young instead of in our 70's! LOL! We have more stamina and usually better health with those first children and then as we age and slow down, we have the strength of our older children to help us. Balance...always.

blessings to all you young moms,


jeewbee said...

Wow Jer,
I had no idea that this post would be so encouraging! I take comfort in the fact that it hasn't been easy for you! I guess I kind of think of you as Super Mom, and am just amazed at how you do it all. Now I understand (at the time when you had little kids I was too young to understand how difficult it really was for you!) that it is harder when they are younger! It is so much easier to be the babysitter/dishwasher, than the mom who is there all day long!! Thank you for this encouraging post. It sure helps me feel not so crazy to be so exhausted!! Hey and I only have 3 kiddies (if I only had a smaller house that was easier to keep clean!)!! :-)

The Davenport Dozen said...

You are very welcome! I am so glad you found it encouraging. Hang in there, and really, try to enjoy the years your children are young, because there is nothing like it later. It is far easier to be too busy to just sit and snuggle with our little ones. I have several sick kids this week and yesterday Becky was running 105 degree temp and was so out of it. She just wanted to lay on me all day. I really tried to spend as much time as possible with her and care for her and it was so sweet. Sure, the laundry didn't get done and bath night didn't happen, but when caring for sick children it is okay to let some things go for a time. It was nice just to be busy caring for her (and the other sickies) and try not to be so caught up in housework. Hope that makes sense.

And then there is this morning: everyone is off work today (Dad and older boys) and we have several sick and I think I'm starting to come down with it too, and so we aren't going to church, but we are all here together. All 14 of us. I hear my 19 y.o. playing the piano, kids playing together, my 21 y.o. playing with his 1 y.o. sister (he is chasing her and she is trying to walk away from him and then he grabs her up). It fills my heart to overflowing.


Jenny W said...

I agree with Ju, it was encouraging. Especially right now, as I'm home alone for 2 1/2 weeks with no hubby. . . can we say "Circus Act" at the post office?! Three little ones deciding it was a great time to start acting like hooligans, me trying to keep control, lugging around the fourth, a 15 pound, 3 1/2 month old in his carseat while dropping things all over the place and grabbing shoulders to bust "vulcan moves" on which ever was the current offending child!! (Remember the vulcan move Ju? Jer, did Mom know that one while you were small enough to "appreciate" it? )

Ahhh yes, your post came at just the right time! =0) Thanks! I remember now, I DO enjoy my little guys! (As I sit here, typing around my almost 2 y o that sits in my lap, whose trying to sneak in a mouse click here and there!) And hubby being gone has actually given me a great opportunity to enjoy them even more as I avoid as many errands as possible (refer back to "Circus Act" at the post office) and just STAY HOME and play! =0)

I love it - when I'm not having to bust vulcan moves every 2 minutes. =0) Thanks Jer.

The Davenport Dozen said...

Oh my yes, I remember the Vulcan death pinch mom would give. Ouch! LOL! I think the story goes that HER dad used to use it on her. Very effective and at least in its third generation of use! LOL!

Okay, so I knew you had said Nate was out of town in your last email, but two and a half weeks? Where IS he? Hang in there. NO more trips to the post office. Did you have an ebay sale to mail? Nothing else could be that important - ha!

Honestly, the days and years fly by. I can't believe I will have three adult children in just a few weeks! Where did the time go? It is the "living in the moment" that seems to drag so slowly by during the early years of motherhood, but those seemingly slow to pass days start adding up pretty quickly and also gain momentum. **sigh**

Hey did either of you realize our "sisters weekend" is now LESS than 3 months away! Woo hoo! I can't wait!


Kimm said...

Thanks so much for this post. I really treasure the wisdom of moms who have been there. I would love to link this to my blog if you don't mind.

I had a great trip to the library last week. Lily started screaming about a book and I had to have Grace take her outside where I could see her so I could check out. Then while Jonah was pulling on my arm to go the librarian said "It's days like this that I am glad my grandkids live far away." I almost lost it right there. I wish I could have told her what a blessing my children are to me but I just turned around and walked out.
Do you think we could handle the seven of them at the zoo this week?

Thanks again Jeri. I like having blog posts written to me lol:)

Love in Christ,

Anonymous said...

Hey, I have sisters, can I come too?

I can relate to the days spent as a baby couch.

Jenny W said...

Nate is taking a drug training course up in Folsom (near Sacramento).

Long story about the post office. In a nutshell, street mail box was blown up, tried putting a new one on the house, post office won't let us, won't deliver mail until we replace the one on the street. So now we're in a losing dispute with the postmaster but until we actually here from him (her?), we have to pick up our mail at the post office - even though there's a mail box on the house! So every couple days we have to go pick up our mail.

Hey, I'm game for the Wild Animal Park if you are! =0) I honestly don't think it's too hard since there's two of us. Trick will be picking a day that isn't too cold yet the winds not to wild. I don't know about your area (or S.D.) but here it's pretty wild. I blame some of the kids' craziness on the wind - that and not having Dad around to wrestle and be rough with. Don't know what it is but they always seem to be nutty when it's windy.

Today I decided to add to the craziness and put Ben in underwear and try to finish the potty training! Ya know, since I'm already house-bound! lol!

Whoo hoo for the sister trip! I can't wait!!!!


The Davenport Dozen said...

You are very welcome! And, yes, of course you can link to my post!

Had to laugh about what the librarian said about her grandkids. I'd have been tempted to say something like "With an attitude like that, I'm sure they are thankful you live far away too!". I could write more on this topic, but this is the comment box, after all, and I should keep this short. Well, try to keep it short. Oh my! Look how long it is already! ;)

Okay, HOW did your mailbox get blown up? Are we talking TNT? When did that happen? Oh my! Details, PLEASE! You live such an exciting life...is it safe to visit you? LOL!

Welllllll, having sisters is certainly good, but it won't get you admitted to our sisters weekend. This is a blood sisters kind of thing. And, we all have to fly to a secret location (I know what you are thinking but, NO, not on broomsticks!) because we live so far apart. But hey, you could plan a sisters weekend for you and your sisters. Even an overnight at a hotel together. My sis's and I are going to scrapbook and talk and watch movies and talk and well probably talk. LOL! Course, with your sisters (I'm really hoping none of them read my blog...right?) could you spend a night in a hotel together without killing one another? I mean, really? And your mom, she would feel so left out and stressing about not knowing what you all are saying about her behind her back. Ha!

Oh no. Look how long this has gotten. I'm running away from the keyboard now....


Meg said...

Sadly, I have no sisters. Only brothers who either 1) won't grow up, 2) date/marry women I don't get along with, or 3) have a criminal record. This is the absolute truth with no exageration.

If I didn't have sisters of the faith, I would be completely lost. Thanks for filling an empty spot- even if I can't come along on your sister weekend.

I have never known you to have any dishes in your sink Jer, so it was with astonishment that I read your confession. It makes me love you all the more. Thanks for sharing.

The Davenport Dozen said...

You are too kind. Yes, the deeper truth about my dishes in years gone by is that doing dishes was my least favorite thing to do, and so it was the last thing on my "to do" list during those busy years with all little ones.

I kind of like to do dishes now, even though I don't do them but a few times a year at this point.

Maybe we should have a "sisters in the faith" weekend, sometime this year? Course, with your and Dana's midwifing schedule, WHEN would be the big question. We could stay somewhere really close by or maybe even go to the coast (I have connections).Think about it....


Jenny W said...

Okay so I have to emphasize HOW quiet my neighborhood is now!!! lol! It really is! I promise! We just had some kids come along and put a dry ice "bomb" in our mailbox. It blew it right off the post it was attached too. Kinda funny really. I was glad Nate was home though because it was the middle of the night and it sounded like a gunshot. Not that we hear those in my neighborhood. . .because we don't. . .haven't EVER. . . I PROMISE!


The Davenport Dozen said...

Okay, the question that begs to be asked is: Did Nate catch them? lol! I sure hope so!

Glad to hear the neighborhood is safe.... lol!


Gail said...

Hey Jerri,
What connections would those be? LOL!


The Davenport Dozen said...

Well, there are two certain families I know that have homes at a certain Oregon beach town.... to remain nameless unless they want to be named. LOL!


Gail said...

Hey, we always welcome the business since we do rent it out. So go for it. :o)


Jenny W said...

Nope, he didn't catch them. =0(

The Davenport Dozen said...

Oh, too bad. Makes me think of the jokes about there not ever is a cop around when you need one, but even if you are one, guess that isn't enough either, eh? lol.

My "be home and hold sick children all day" is continuing. Took Becky and Hollie in to the pedi today - they both have an ear infection, which may explain why Hollie has had a fever for a week. So far only four of the twelve and mom and dad have had this virus, so the potential for more to get sick and drag this out is immense. Trying to just relax and go with it. God knows all and have to trust that this is His will for this week, or month!lol.

I'm trying to get a shopping list together so hubby, who so kindly offered to go, can pick up some groceries and the RX for the girls. This is his last day off this week. Neither of us got much sleep last night as Becky's ear infection "presented" during the night last night ( you know, crying "my ear hurts" kind of thing), so we were up and down off and on all night with her. Not that I'm complaining, just tired. =)


Jenny W said...

So sorry! Nothing like having sick kids while being sick yourself. That's definitely a recipe for doing nothing but vegging! You just can't do anything else! Well, other than tending to sick little ones, doling (sp?) out medicine, fixing meals, trying to keep door and toilet handles, etc disinfected to keep others from getting sick too and attempting to keep laundry from getting way out of control - amoung other things! =0) Ya know, vegging!

jeewbee said...

Well I have been gone a few days, and it took me 15 minutes to read through all the comments!! wow!! Way to go ladies!!

Jen- I like the dry ice bomb effect! Pretty cool! Not so cool to be in conflict with the people who deliver your mail. Did they think you blew it up on purpose just so that they would have to take a few extra steps up to the house?? HHHMMMMM???

Jer- I hope by now that you guys are starting to get better?? I hate sickness!! Nasty stuff!

Speaking of misbehaving children . . . I'm sure all of you women have one time or another taken your young children with you to your yearly physical visit, haven't you?! Well I got to take Ethan (3) to mine yesterday. Oh what fun that was. First he wanted to pee in the cup too, then he couldn't stop playing with the stirrups, then he announced with a pained look on his face that he had to go "poo poo" when I was undressed and wearing my "gown". It got even worse after that- he opened the door (which happened to be facing the T junction of a hallway) and of course the table was facing the door with me sitting there in my "gown"! I finally got him to close the door, and then it was a battle of wills to get him to not lock the doctor out! During my exam time, the nurse so kindly put him up on the table by my head where he proceeded to lick his fingers and smear his slobber all over my face!! How mortifing! You know that had I not been pretty much naked, and had a Doctor examining me, I would have had the vulcan grip going on!! (Yes I remember the vulcan grip and it is my favorite public punishment for my dear Ethan.) Well I hope I am not the only one that has a story like this!! I hope you all are feeling my pain, as I felt yours!!

On a side note: All you Californians- My hubby was saying the other day that there is a bill trying to be passed in CA to make spanking illegal. Is this true and how do you plan on avoiding getting caught should it go through?

All right! I have got to get to bed!!

Jenny W said...

Yes, it's true. And no, I really don't think it'll go through. But it does worry me that that it is something looming in our future. All I can say is "Way to go California!" We're always first in line to hop in the handbasket that's headed to Hell.

The Davenport Dozen said...

You take the cake with your story. I don't think even I have had to take a male child, Ethan's age for a yearly exam. Maybe to prenatal appts, but only if they were just tummy check type appts. I was laughing so hard reading your story! Oh my! Just what I needed after caring for sick kids all day!

And, the Calif. thing is a bit worrying, but then, I can't "imagine" it passing! Course, that is the same imagination that can't fathom Hillary becoming first female president in 2008...oh my. The way it goes on the West Coast, is if passes in CA, then WA and then OR feels it must make a united stand with the other two states. Sheesh! Praying it doesn't pass in CA. Worrying wont' change a thing, right gals, and God IS IN CONTROL! If it passes, well, Jen will just have to move! LOL!

Got to go to bed, really... now...really...I'm going already!


Jane-Holly said...

Oy, I am late to the sister-party in this string of comments, but I had just managed to forget the Vulcan neck pinch used by Mom, and now I shall have to think about it again! Just joking, I'm not traumatized, but I had forgotten about it!

Loved the post, Jerri, and I enjoy reading all the little stories about everyone's kids in the comments.

Kimm said...

O.K. I feel a little out of place posting a comment since I'm not a sister but I just have to say that I was lucky enough to have witnessed the Vulcan move in person the other day. I do have to say that my pinch under the arm is much more inconspicuous which will be helpful once us Californians are forbidden to raise our own children.

Anonymous said...

I have went through your blog many times and some how never read this post! Wow! It is very encouraging. You are definatly an inspiration! I love having little ones, and pray we're blessed with many more, but also look foward to the day when my oldest are a little older! :) They already are more help than most people give them credit for, but it will be nice to have diaper changing, dish washing, laundry doing helpers! :)Especially if we have to ever do bed rest again. Thanks for taking the time to do this blog, I have learned many tips from it and often been encouraged through the experiances you have shared.

Kristen Bradley

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