I was so overwhelmed, sleep deprived, exhausted, emotional and terrified, but I was so busy taking care of my kids that I didn't really get a chance to truly get in touch with how I was feeling. I was in survival mode.
Interestingly enough, one of the biggest difficulties for me was the comments and looks I would get from strangers when I was out with the kids. This irked me to my inner core.
'Wow, you have your hands full!' Really? Thanks so much for letting me know, all this time I thought my life was so easy, but now that you have notified me that my hands are full, I will be able to move on with my day. And the whole response of 'Oh you should see my heart'- I really don't need to justify to you, perfect stranger, how full my heart is. My hands are full and I'm overwhelmed. Stop rubbing it in. I would politely smile and go,'I know, right?'
'Are they all yours?' No, I found some stray kids in the parking lot, threw them into my shopping cart and asked a friend if I could bring a few of her kids with me to the super market cos theres nothing better then shopping with lots of kids, especially if some of them arn't even yours.
'How do you do it?' Well, you see I have this manual that tells me exactly what to do and how to do it. So its pretty simple. I just follow the instructions.
People would actually count out loud, as if I had no idea how many kids I had brought with me.
These experiences and comments really bothered me. I blamed society and how judgmental people are of moms with lots of kids. Everywhere I went I felt like I was being judged as an overwhelmed mom who had no control over her life.
But- in actual truth, that's how I felt. I was overwhelmed and I often felt like I had no control of what was going on around me. And that is what I thought the world thought of me because little did I know it, but that is what I was projecting.
Fast forward a few years. The kids are growing up, and so am I. I have learned so much about life as a mother, a wife and as a human being in general.
Granted, I have more time for myself and after many difficult and guilt ridden years, I finally realized how much my family gains when I truly take care of myself in all areas of my life.
I read the most gorgeous quote on Instagram today by a fellow mom with lots of little ones:
The way you feel is projected onto those around you. Even newborn babies can sense when we are stressed.
My older kids had some birthday and Chanukah money they had saved up and we decided to go to the store today so they can all get something.
They got their shoes, grabbed a snack and buckled themselves into the car. I grabbed my ice tea and fig bar and off we went, everyone bopping to the music as they were all discussing what they hoped to find at the store. Even the little ones were in on the conversation.
We got to the store, I immediately stuck the little ones in the shopping cart and we headed straight to the toy section. The older kids were all busy looking through the Legos and My Little Ponies while I grabbed a few flashy singing toys for the little ones to play with to keep them busy.
Everyone found something, all smiles, and we headed to the checkout. My 5 year old grabbed a candy bar and asked if he could have it. I told him if he found a Kosher sign on it then we could discuss it. He didn't find the sign so he put it right back, no questions asked. The lady behind me complimented me on my well behaved kids. And no, my kids are no more well behaved then yours, but my kids know that we only eat Kosher so its really no big deal to put it back.
Then a lady in the next isle looks over and goes, 'are you the nanny or the mom cos you don't look a day over 25!' Ha! I gave her a smile and told her I was the very proud mom.
You see, we all go through that overwhelming stage. Where we wonder how on earth we will ever get through this.
I don't remember exactly when the shift happened, but one day I realized that when I go out with my kids, I am just SO proud to be the mom of these awesome people! I walk onto the playground with my camera ready to capture these kiddos in action. I thank Hashem everyday that they are so close in age and everywhere we go they have each other to keep company. And I guess that pride shows because the comments I get show it.
The comments I get now are more like, 'They're so lucky they have each other!' 'Its so nice to have a big family' 'Whats your secret to making it look so easy?' 'How are you so calm?'
People are in awe. Not pity.
So while I am sure there are many of you with lots of little ones who get those pitiful looks and annoying comments, hang in there! We have all been there and we get how annoying it is- and things will change. Things will get so much better that not only will you feel great but the people around you will feel it too.
Wishing you a wonderful week,