You’ve seen them driving those BMWs (big Mormon wagons) or posting on Facebook about how many gallons of milk their family goes through in a week (or even in a day). They are those sometimes admired, sometimes ridiculed, Mormon moms with a BUNCH of kids.
I guess I fall into this category although I never dreamed I would. I’ve got 8 of them. Kids, that is. They range from 19 years old all the way down to 2. And although by no means do I have this large family thing down pat, I do have some fun confessions about what it’s like to be a Mormon mom with lots of kids:
Mormon Mom Confession #1: I don’t look down on you for having fewer kids than me.
It happens every time I’m in a public setting and I start chatting with someone about our families. Enter the “How many kids do you have?” question and the “Whoa, are you kidding me?” incredulous response. Most people add something like, “I only have…” or “I don’t think I could do that!” But I always remind them that the number of kids we have doesn’t have anything to do with our worth as a person. I’ve known women with 10 kids and some who have never had children and they are equally amazing!
Mormon Mom Confession #2: It wasn’t always my life goal to have lots of kids.
Some Mormon women might enter married life with a goal to have a LOT of kids. Although the definition of “a lot” has changed over the years (someone recently told me that 5 is the new 10), I personally was never someone who just knew I was destined to have a large family. Honestly.
I grew up with two siblings, with some additional step-siblings coming into the picture when I was a teenager. So the majority of my childhood it was me and my two sisters, all very close in age. I couldn’t fathom, let alone envision, the logistics necessary to run a household of 10 people. In addition, I wasn’t a “kid” person. You know, one of those teenage girls who just loves to babysit or hold babies, or plan out names for her future children. But here I am. With 8 kids. By choice.
Mormon Mom Confession #3: Sometimes I lock myself in the bathroom to get mommy quiet time.
Okay, one of the reasons that it stays fun is because I have learned to create boundaries. That means, instead of self-imploding because there are several demanding children all clamoring for my attention, I can lock myself in the bathroom for a few minutes and not feel guilty. It may or may not have taken 15 years and a husband who is a therapist to get me to realize this is okay. But, I tell you what, I’m a better mom and a better human being when I realize I need a break and actually take one.
Mormon Mom Confession #4: I occasionally use electronics as a babysitter or as a bribe.
*Gasp!* “I thought all good moms limited their children’s screen time to one hour a week!” Learning how to cope and how to handle chaos is extremely important for the life of a mom with lots of kids (as referenced above in the bathroom confession). Sometimes I don’t have the day planned perfectly with fun and exciting activities every second of the day.
I let them watch TV while I make dinner. Sometimes I really don’t want to unload another load of dishes (we typically run two or three loads a day) and I bribe my kids with 30 minutes of computer time if they do an extra chore (beyond their regular ones). Are electronics the only way to keep kids occupied or motivate them to help around the house? No. But, honestly, it’s a part of my mom toolkit, along with a bunch of other techniques and tactics gleaned from fellow moms, the internet, and divine inspiration.
Mormon Mom Confession #5: Experiencing the birth of a child is one of the most sublime experiences you will ever have.
When a little piece of heaven comes down on earth and you fully realize the part God has allowed you to play in the miracle of life, it is a moment you will never forget. For all the sleepless nights, potty training accidents, teenage sass, and more sleepless nights as you worry about your grown children, this moment, in part, is worth it all.
Mormon Mom Confession #6: Yes, I may be overwhelmed…but I’m also overjoyed.
Come on, helping a little infant transform into a functioning adult is a monumental task. There is a lot of pressure and it’s definitely not the most underwhelming thing I’ve ever done. However, it’s also full of a million moments packed with the true essence of joy.
It’s that moment when you look into your newborn’s eyes for the first time…when you get a wet, sloppy kiss and an “I wuv you” from a two-year-old…when you help your five-year-old master riding a bike…when you have a heart to heart with your teenage daughter…when you finally get a thank you from your adult children…and the list goes on.
Those days I just want to be cranky because adulting has clouded my sense of childhood wonder and zest for life, all I have to do is spend a few minutes with my four-year-old in the sandbox to realize it’s the little things in life that count. To realize that men really are “that they might have joy,” as we read in the scriptures.
And that’s why, whether their your own or someone else’s, living a life where you have frequent interaction with children may be loud, messy, and a bit out of control sometimes, but it is also the closest we can come to heaven on earth, in my humble opinion.
Mormon Mom Confession #7: I am not a superhero.
Just saying I have 8 children sometimes automatically gives people a sense of awe. “Whoa! How do you do it?” “You must be soooo organized!” “I could never be pregnant for that many months of my life!” And the wonderment goes on.
But, seriously, people—I don’t have a cape, I don’t have superpowers and I do occasionally have Mommy Meltdowns. Being a mom to a large family is like other seemingly insurmountable tasks in life—you commit, you endure, you do what it takes to get it done. As one of my favorite quotes says, “You do your best and you let God do the rest.”
Or as the Book of Mormon prophet Moroni put it,
“If [men or women] humble themselves before me, and have faith in me, then I will make weak things become strong unto them” (Ether 12:27).
So, no, I’m not a superhero…but God is, and that’s all that matters when it really comes down to it. Because when I need saving, He’s always there.