Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Domestic Enemies of the Large Family

We've been looking for this rant for soooooo long.  Because we know a bunch of awesome moms with a lot of kids and they're not what you'd think.  Here's a little info about today's Special Guest Blogger:

Hi, I’m Holly Hudson, proud Momma to what we (and those who know us best) affectionately call The Storm. My oldest, and only daughter, is 7 years old. Her Highness is the calm before The Storm. Behind her are our four sons, ages 6, 5, 3, and 18 months, who we refer to as Thunder, Lightning, Hail and Flash Flood. Their personalities closely resemble the cast of Jackass. We’re expecting #6 in January. In the past eight years, six and a half of them I’ve spent either pregnant or nursing.

Yes, they are all mine, yes, they all have the same father, and yes, we do know how this keeps happening.

While our family is large, we are completely normal… normal being a relative term.  Let me tell about some of our enemies...

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THE DUGGAR FAMILY (TLC): The Duggars bother me, and not just because their oldest son and his wife practically filmed hours of hand porn during their dating episodes. When it comes to educating America on life inside a big family, the show is misleading.

Best. Image. Ever. Thank you whoever made it.
Not all large families wear long skirts and refuse to change hairstyles for 25 years. Not all large families homeschool. And, not all large families are anti-birth control for religious reasons. However, people wrongly assume these things about us, and total strangers will ask questions and want to discuss these points with us, all because they’ve seen shows like 19 Kids and Counting and Sisterwives. I’ve been asked by strangers more times than I can count, “So, are y’all like the Duggars??” Ummm, NO.

While I wish I could be as sweet natured as Michelle, and never raise my voice to my husband or children, I just can’t. Then again, I also don’t have teenage daughters to help cook all our meals, wash our 18 weekly loads of laundry (which is a domestic enemy to every mother, in and of itself) and watch my toddlers all day. Perhaps if I could borrow Michelle’s oldest daughters a few mornings a week, I would have more patience with the little howler monkeys who keep begging for sippy cups to be refilled and goldfish to crush on the freshly vacuumed rug.

APPOINTING A LEGAL GUARDIAN: In the event that (God forbid) something should happen to us both… When Her Highness was born, (she was the first grandchild on both sides) both sets of grandparents proudly announced they would be happy to be appointed her legal guardian should something happen. I couldn’t stand the thought of filling out a legal document, stating who was to raise MY child, MY pride and joy. My husband and I argued for days over who would do the better job, both throwing each other’s families under the bus, while bringing up embarrassing stories about the way Uncle Rico turned out.

Fast forward seven years, and now, instead of arguing with my husband, I’m arguing with the couple we named legal guardian… “What do you mean you only want Her Highness and Thunder?? So what you’ve got two kids of your own! Fine then... We’ll see if his sister will take a few of them.”

PUBLIC OUTINGS-- This is a three part enemy.
A.) Herding Chimpansloths
Getting out the door to go anywhere, whether it is school or Disney World, takes an act of congress. Instead of “herding turtles” to our van, I feel much more as if I’ve just herded a cross breed of chimpanzees and sloths. While I know the chimp part of their brain is indeed intelligent enough to locate a matching pair of crocks, put them on their feet (“Wrong feet or not, I don’t care, just put them on and let’s GO!!”) and walk to the car, the sloth part of their bodies always seems to take over, making my simple request of finding two shoes (“Matching or not, I don’t care, just put them on and LET’S GO!!”) and getting in the car nearly impossible.

B.)Paparazzish Encounters
Once we arrive at our public destination, there will no doubt be onlookers and gawkers, craning their necks to see and count just how many kids I have in my van/grocery cart/sunscreen assembly line/restaurant booth/etc. It’s sort of like having paparazzi following you all the time, only instead of shouting, “Who are you wearing?” You get to pretend you give a rip about all the “Well-meaning” commenters and their questions like, “Have you thought about how you’ll put them through college?” --Are you offering to do so? Then why is it any of your business? “You’ve got your hands full.” –Thanks, I hadn’t noticed. “Better you than me.” –Yep, my kids would agree.

C.)Humiliation: Public outings with this number almost always results in embarrassing encounters involving one or more members of the motley crew. It never fails. I’m always sorry I take them out in public. For example, when Thunder was three years old, he asked me very loudly in the check-out line during rush hour at the grocery store, “Momma, what smells like button-eggs?” Stupidly, I asked him to repeat his question, since I had no idea what button-eggs were. (Amateur.) Holding his nose he repeated, even louder, “NOT BUTTON-EGGS, Momma. BUTT and EGGS! Something smells like BUTT and EGGS!” At the same time he was assaulting me with embarrassment, I got a whiff of the man standing in line in front of us. Two thoughts immediately came to mind: How in the world did my three year old put those two items together to make such a description… and second, how did he do it so accurately?

ILLNESSESS: The only thing my children willingly share is a germ. When one child catches a virus, they all catch it. And never simultaneously. That would be too convenient. In a large family, illnesses can last for months. One winter, we saw the pediatrician for eight consecutive weeks. When we finally recovered from Satan’s version of RSV, the receptionist called just to say hi since she hadn’t seen us in a while. My suggestion here is to make friends with a pediatrician. And a dentist. (Oh, and a vet would be nice too.) That way, you can call in the middle of the night without feeling guilty about it. And maybe get them to swing by your house on the way home from work with their otoscope.

Stomach viruses alone are enough to keep any mother from taking her children to an indoor playplace. But knowing that I’ll be scrubbing vomit stained carpets (why can’t they ever puke on the hardwoods??) for three solid weeks, keeps me out of the Burger King play-n-puke year round.

GUILT: It’s the common thread that bonds our sisterhood together as Mothers. For me, guilt rears its ugly head daily, leaving me to doubt my capabilities to handle such a fun and spirited group of children. After a long day of Chimpansloth Herding, when my babies’ daddy is working late, I don’t always make time to read “justonemorestory pleeeaaaasssseee” nor do I always explain as sweetly as I should that Mommy is exhausted and just really needs for everyone to close their eyes and go to sleep. Some nights it comes out more like the foot stomping temper tantrums I’m always fussing at them for throwing. After they’re all in the bed, and the house is quiet, I stare mindlessly at reruns of The Office and sip a glass of wine (if I’m not pregnant). That’s when the feelings of inadequacy begin to haunt me. “Am I doing a good job? Do they all know just how much I truly love them? Did I even make eye contact with the middle one…. Oh, what’s his name.. Lightning?” The truth is, while Satan loves for those feelings of doubt to creep into all of our hearts, only we can push them out, and remember, there’s nothing to feel guilty for. Siblings are a gift. Tomorrow is a new day. And no matter how today went, I can always do better tomorrow.

Even though I don’t have the help of Michelle Duggar’s daughters, I wouldn’t trade my life for the world. While a large family may bring with it an abundance of domestic enemies, it also brings an abundance of LOVE. Every day I get to wake up to five (soon to be six) times the hugs, kisses, and snuggles. I also get to do the greatest parts of Motherhood six times over— hearing the heartbeat for the first time; kissing booboos; blowing raspberries on their bellies until we’re both laughing so hard, neither of us can breathe; watching my husband rock a cranky kid to sleep, then falling asleep himself, with that child locked tightly in his embrace; seeing the wonderment each child finds with the simple things in life. Those things, no matter how many times over you do them, never get old.  These children are my greatest teachers, and most certainly my greatest blessings.

I feel honored and blessed to have found such an astounding group of women to help me through these trying times. Thanks, Mommyland, for reminding me I’m normal, even if I do have a half-dozen kiddos.

(c)Herding Turtles, Inc. 2009 - 2011

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