Family

Your Child Isn't an Accessory

IMG_5696.JPG

I'm not a perfect person, nor will I ever be. I'm not ever a perfect mom, nor will I ever be! That's not even the point of this blog. It's for encouragement and dialogue and a place for my sisters and I to stay connected since we're so far apart.  it's a place to share our failures and crazytimes.... 

But one thing in particular has been on my heart lately, that's been all over social media for a few years now seems like.  

Why has motherhood become a trend? Why should such a calling, something that requires all of you be something that you just pick and choose what you like about it. Your kids aren't accessories. They're not sitting in your closet waiting for you to give them attention. 

They're human beings! 

They shouldn't have to wonder if their parents love their jobs and night life more than they love them. They shouldn't be made to feel like a burden because they just aren't meeting your expectations. 

Some babies are in daycare 40+ hours a week, then given to a babysitter to be kept almost every night so the parents can go out! I don't understand. I am all about needing a break every now and then; but who's raising your kids here? It's not the parents in this situation. .. it's the daycare worker and the babysitters and the iPad no doubt. 

Your kids aren't a burden, and if you feel that way then maybe put yourself in their shoes for two seconds. Would you want a mom that never wanted to be around you? That always acted annoyed when you had a need or want? 

Your kids need you mom. You only get one chance at this. Let's do our best and be the ones that our kids know that we love them more than any human in this earth ever will. 

(How to) Raise 5 Children on A Budget.

Raising more than your average 2.1 children isn't for the faint of heart. Everything in our great land is designed for a family of four.  

 

Hotel room reservations, four-top tables at fast food restaurants, gas-efficient cars, 3 bedroom homes, things that come in packages or multiples of four in the grocery store. I mean, really, you're taking a leap from the standard when you branch out beyond 2 children.  

 

We were crazy enough to go three beyond that standard. And who knows what the future may hold! We have an ache in our hearts for adoption, too.  

 

But how does one manage to survive and thrive with an entire handful of children on one income? Look no further... 

 

1) Transform your attic into your own personal consignment store

You may not believe me, but I've maybe gone clothes shopping for my children like ten times in eleven years, since finding out I was pregnant the first time.

We all know that people are ultra generous and excited for baby number one. Then when baby number one gets a sidekick, people are eager to shower you once again with gifts for this acceptable baby. And if babies one and two are the same gender, then it's perfectly fine to have baby number three, as long as that baby is the gender you're lacking. And if that baby is the missing gender, then you'll also receive another shower of blessings with the unspoken condition that you don't have any more after this one. 

 

So when I need some clothing, I shop upstairs first. If I don't have it, then Jesus usually always comes thru. No lie. Someone at church will randomly come up to me and say "I have such and such size of this gender clothes. Do you want them?" ("DO I WANT THEM?!....Of Course!!!") Or, the best times are when Mike will just come home from work with a big box of clothes from some random person. It's funny how God just knows our needs and loves to surprise us with the provision. 

IMG_0529.JPG

 

And, sometimes, a grandparent will randomly bring this or that item I'm looking for without knowing I was looking. Also, God. But my last resort is always a trip to my local consignment store. And if you don't shop consignment for your kids, you're missing out. Like WAY missing out.  

 

2) Give them an early bedtime and make them share rooms.

Early bedtime = the electricity usage stops, as does the raiding of the fridge and parent leisure time begins as we raid the fridge and use the electricity for once. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

 

I always tell my children,  "you will never have your own room: in college, in marriage, at summer camp, so you may as well get used to it now." 

IMG_0535.JPG

 

A smaller house makes for less mess, less reason to buy more things, and the lessons that come from sharing spaces. 

 

3) Grow your own food (or at least have some chickens that poop out delicious eggs) 

FYI: Never collect eggs in the front of your shirt.  

FYI: Never collect eggs in the front of your shirt.  

I like to say that, at this point, I have the deepest, greenest green thumb around. But it's not true. In fact, if my thumb is even slightly green, it's the lightest and most pukey green shade ever.  

FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg
FullSizeRender.jpg

So when my efforts fail me year after year, I just lean on my chickens for help. When your family can put down a dozen eggs a day easy peasy, then you may as well just have a chicken zoo in your backyard. We never have to run to the store for eggs, and if the fridge gets raided a bit too much, there's always eggs here. Always.

FullSizeRender.jpg

 

 4) Buy a house that already has its own park/playground land in the backyard. That'll save you a lot of gas in trips to the park.

FullSizeRender.jpg

 

5) Buy the biggest capacity washer and dryer out there and do three loads at once. 

 

This one just explains itself, y'all.  

 

6) For goodness sakes, shop at Aldi. 

If y'all don't know about Aldi, let's get educated. Because, some genius over in Germany or something decided to make a grocery store with almost free prices, in an non-overwhelming environment, where half or more of the products are organic in nature and make my eyes bulge when I see the glorious prices.  

And if you don't wanna venture out and deal with the bringing your own bags and bagging your own groceries thing, then spend twice as much at Walmart grocery and allow someone else to shop, organize it, bag it, and put it in your car for you. 

I'm totally down with both. Cause we all need a money saver and a sanity saver grocery option.  

 

7) Use paper plates and cups

 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Cause normally, houses only come with one dishwasher. And if you aren't excited about hearing it run three times a day, then paper plates. 

 

 

8) Be ultra generous. 

If you're always looking to make a buck, then you're missing out. So many times, I can't even count how many times, God has met us right where our needs are at the exact time we have the need. In other words, we've been just handed so many things for free. Decent things, such as brand new couches, a king mattress, toys for the children that were barely played with, gift cards, packs of diapers/wipes/and meals just show up on occasion. And so Mike and I constantly reciprocate those actions to others. If we have something of value, we don't sell it, we give it away. And I'm not talking about dumping our crap at Goodwill and Salvation Army. 

 

God has always always always come thru. If we are in a financial pickle, an unexpected raise comes or my dōTERRA check is way more than I expected. Even like the other night, we didn't expect to get our dinner paid for. I mean, we certainly haven't been punished by having more than your average number of children. In fact, we've been the receivers of even more than we ever imagined. We are the richest people I know and you wouldn't think so if you saw our bank account! 

 

So, it is very very possible to live this crazy life with one income. And the key is just to be content with what you have, and to give more back than you've been given yourself. That's it. 

FullSizeRender.jpg

If God decides to add to our family in the future, I won't be worried how He'll do that, or if our circumstances at the time will be just right.  

God is always faithful. Test Him in this. He will never fail you. No matter what size family He gives you! 

 

FullSizeRender.jpg

Dear Joey,

Last night, you changed my life.  

 

I don't even know you, and yet, you spoke a thousand things to me in a single picture. 

 

I regret to tell you, that I've never heard your music. I had, honestly, never heard of you before last week. I guess I wasn't paying attention. I hope that doesn't offend you.  

 

So my intentions in writing you this letter, before you see our Savior, are as pure as gold. I am not seeking to bask in the shadow of your celebrity. 

 

I'm writing you because I, like millions of others, saw the photo of you cuddling your toddler baby in an article last night.  

Photo cred: RoryandJoey  

Photo cred: RoryandJoey  

 

I stared.  

 

I just took the whole beautiful tragedy in over the course of several minutes. 

 

I wept a little thinking of how you are doing exactly what we should all be doing as mothers: seizing the time we have left.   

 

Because, really, we all know deep down that these lives are just as changing and fragile as the leaves.  

 

I've lived this year fearful, anxious, panicked, and depressed. I've had some minor health issues, but nothing like what you are currently enduring. And yet, I've lived as though there was no hope. I'm embarrassed by that. 

 

You reminded me that while you are very fragile and filled with excruciating pain, that I am not, and I've chosen not to live life like I should.  

 

You reminded me that the present moments we have are all that we truly have, and that gift of "next breath" may never be breathed.  

 

You showed me that I should be thankful to still be able to make meals, chase my toddler, and carry the endless loads of laundry because I am able to do so. I'm sure I would miss that if it was taken from me. I can only imagine you would love to do that for your family right now. And I bet you would make them the most delicious feast, and the smile wouldn't leave your face. 

 

I can't remember the last time I smiled while making dinner. 

 

I bet you wouldn't grumble about folding tiny pink clothes before your sweet Indy throws them all across the room. The laundry game that almost every mother can relate to.   

 

I know you wouldn't turn down "just one more book" or that glass of water before bedtime because there can never be too much reading and serving, really.  

 

You've reminded me that the "just make it until bedtime" mentality is an outlook that doesn't welcome the mess-making and joy-filled chaos.  

 

And so, you've ruined me. And I'm glad you have. I needed the ruining; the realization that these family times are the best of times.  

 

Joey, I don't know exactly what you're feeling at this moment, but know this: you are still doing the hard work of motherhood. You're teaching all of us that motherhood is beautiful in all stages, even when it's time for motherhood to end.  

 

I will be praying for you and your family in the coming days, weeks, months, years. I hope your daughters can always somehow experience the love you have for them, even from afar.  

 

And I will always remember that you taught me more from a picture than any book, blog post, or mom friend could ever gift me. To love each messy, crazy, motherhood moment and to LIVE fully in each breath.  

 

Until we meet, Alicia  

 

******The tentative release date for "Dear Joey," is this weekend, January 29th, 2017! Stay tuned for the release announcement! 

IMG_0862.JPG