What is it Really Like to Have 7 Kids?
Back in my days as a youth minister, I knew one family who had 4 kids. In a church of 1,900 people, there was only one family I remember with more than three children. I was in awe of Mrs. B. How did she do it?! She had four kids – and yet she was always happy, always smiling, always helping out. When my now husband and I were in premarital counseling he said wanted an even number of kids, and more than 2, so I guess I thought we would have 4, but never in my wildest dreams did I think I’d have 7 kids.
And as most moms with more than 2 children probably know, there are lots of people who say “2 was enough, I couldn’t handle any more. I don’t know how you do it.”
So what is it really like to have 7 kids? My standard answer is that my house is loud, messy, and chaotic, and my life is rich. All of that is true, and it paints my life in a very pretty – and somewhat idealistic light. Here is the more realistic picture.
My house is loud.
Seriously LOUD. My 5 year old son in particular is a very loud child. And my twelve year old likes to tap his pencil or bounce a ball or – I don’t know – just make little bits of noise for long periods of time. When they all get talking I want to put on ear plugs. One night at dinner I actually recorded the noise! It’s crazy loud!! And on Tuesday afternoons, after we have had almost 3 hours of piano lessons in the living room while I also try to teach math and phonics in the dining room and the mixer is probably going for bread – oh my. It’s constant noise all day long. By the end of the day I just want it all to STOP. If a child
dares decides to practice piano later that day, I try hard not to tell them to stop (they should be practicing after all), but it is hard. With 7 kids in it all day long, this house is LOUD.
And then the mess.
Yes, I thought my house was messy with three children. I had no idea. Even when I throw out and give away and clear out stuff, 7 kids generate a lot of mess. Now, I am a firm believer in ‘the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree’ so when Daddy goes on a cleaning rampage I try to gently remind him of the mess on the floor by his side of the bed (children will follow our example better than our directions). The truth is we could all be more tidy. Life with 9 people is going to be messy, no matter what you do. My house is lived in. I can confidently say you will never come into my house and find it worthy of the cover of any magazine. We live here. It’s comfortable. And yes, I try to keep it tidy and every few months I sweep the cobwebs off the ceiling (gross!) and I sweep every day multiple times and mop several times a week and clean the bathroom and all of that. Even so, the house is messy.
Okay, I don’t think our house is a chaotic as the halls of the local elementary school (of middle or high school) but it is nuts in here.
Imagine teaching division to a fourth grader while three kids (ages 5, 4, and 2) push big plastic dump trucks right through the dining room where you are teaching. Throw in piano practice, stinky diapers, hungry kids, second grade reading lessons, a middle schooler wanting to get signed up for track practice, a high schooler wanting to get a ride to gymnastics practice, and you get the picture. It’s nuts. I may or may not start singing the refrain of an old song (Leslie Philips, I think?) ‘not by might, not by power, but by My spirit says the Lord’ when I am getting overwhelmed. It’s a signal to the kids. Please simmer down. I’m doing my best but the chaos is about to push me over the edge. And all but the youngest know what the phrase, ‘Mom’s getting muddled’ means.
This is house is loud, messy, and chaotic. I never imagined I would drive a 15 passenger van as my regular car. I never thought I would live in Northeast Oregon (I’m an East Coast girl). In college I thought I would have a jet-setting career in international hotel management and flit between New York and Tokyo. HA!! Then I felt called and went to seminary after I got married. And then I started having kids. And here I am. In 12 years I had 7 kids and one miscarriage. My life is loud, messy, and chaotic.
And it is rich.
I stepped out of church yesterday to throw away a wrapper and when I came back in the entire pew was filled with my husband and our kids. That’s rich. We sit down to dinner and our table that seats 8 doesn’t have room enough for everyone and somehow, that’s awesome. And when my 2 year old says softly, ‘uv you mama,’ or my 4 year old says, ‘I love you twenty hundred!’ my heart melts.
In the midst of the chaos I remember the chiropractor who can’t get pregnant and who was working to adopt a baby when the birth mom changed her mind at the last minute. Her heartache is deep. I remember one of my youth group kids who is stunningly beautiful and who had a very hard time getting pregnant. Her pain was deep. There are many other women out there who feel that pain.
What is it like to have 7 kids? It’s loud. Very loud. It’s messy (where is Mary Poppins anyway?). And it is chaotic.
But the words of Psalm 127 are true: “Children are a blessing from the Lord and blessed is the man with a quiver full of them.” I try to focus on that. My life is rich.
Now – here is another post if you want the funny moments and the laundry/dishes/milk by the numbers.