I want to shout “I’m just like you! I worry about the same things you do. I just worry about it for twice as many kids!” While we’re religious, we’re not zealots. I won’t try to convert you. I didn’t adopt my kids to save the world. I won’t judge you for not adopting. I don’t eat granola at every meal, but I’m also not going to talk to you about my large gun collection. I’m not going to ask you for money (and I don’t get any from the government). I’m just like every other middle class mom. I just have a lot of kids.
If I REALLY work at relationships I can get past this weirdness, but if I’m going to be totally honest, sometimes I just don’t have the energy to work that hard. Can you blame me? I have SEVEN kids. So, when I don’t go out for drinks with the girls because Bubbly had a craptastic day at school, or when I can’t make it to a friend of a friend’s wedding because I don’t have a babysitter I trust to watch my kids, it’s not because I don’t care. It’s because I’m barely keeping my head above water.
The problem is, I’m not going to tell you that I’m barely keeping my head above water, because the second I say that I get comments like “but you wanted this many kids! You did this to yourself!” Hell yeah, I did, but that doesn’t mean I’m not going to have the occasional bad day (or week, or month). FPD and I just work extra hard to keep up the appearance of rolling along, because otherwise the judgment begins its nasty little chokehold and we feel like we can’t breathe. No one likes to be judged, especially not when it comes to their parenting. FPD and I both know that the mark we’re going to leave on this world will come through the seven children we’re currently parenting. We refuse to make concessions when it comes to them. When it’s really important, I’ll be there for you. I’ll make you a diaper cake when you have a baby. If you invite our kids, we’ll all come to your wedding (even though getting seven kids to a wedding feels like running a marathon).
We’ve lost friends, and family, because we’re parenting seven kids from hard places and they don’t understand why we can’t “make time for them”. I never thought I would have to stand by and watch as every relationship that was important to me just fell apart. My kids come first, I won’t apologize for that.
Parenting a child, or children, who have special needs makes all this even harder. I imagine that it like this for mothers or fathers of children with Autism, Down’s Syndrome, mental illness, etc. I know I’m not alone in this. I know other parents struggle with the isolation that comes when the rest of the world doesn’t understand why you have to live the way you do. I can’t drop everything to go out for the evening. My daughter was abused so badly that some days she barely functions. Thanks for the invite though.
Dang. It sucks.
This is when I turn inward. When the relationships on the outside are falling apart, I have to think that God is sending me a message that its time to make sure that the relationships on the inside are strong. FPD and I are solid, because parenting these kids will either make us or break us. So far, it’s makin’ us. We’re good. I’m raising some amazing kids. I’m so proud of them. They’re good people who would give the shirt of their backs before they let anyone suffer. They amaze me everyday with their kindness. They never focus on what they’re “missing” by being in this family, they only focus on how blessed we are and what we can do to make sure other kids are as blessed.
Most importantly, I’m good with me. I’m doing to best I can, and on days like this, when I’ve watched another relationship crumble because I couldn’t meet one more person’s needs, I have to let it go. I have to watch it fall away and hope that someday that person might find understanding.
who can’t be everything to everyone.