Today was one of those days. One where I yelled more than I smiled. Cried more than I hugged. Got more accomplished at more of a price. One of those days that I truly doubted why I would have so many kids. And how I think I’m capable of raising children. One of those days that I wonder what havoc having another child will wreak upon my other children, not to mention the new one. One of those days when I feel like everything I do is just wrong.
I got up and began cleaning the house. Innocent enough. And got my children involved. Responsible enough. It is their mess, after all. But it never is as calm as you would think. And the dragging of their little feet when supposed to be cleaning begins to wear on me. When I don’t clean, none of it matters much until it’s so cluttered that I get edgy. When I do clean I notice every little infraction and every filthy food smudge on the walls, the chairs, the floor, the couches, the everywhere. I get more upset by the dumping of yet another glass of water (or pitcher of juice as the case may be) than when the house is already a wreck.
In addition to the need to clean today, I decided today was the day for haircuts. Why? Why do I make such stellar decisions? I marched the children out into the 97 degree heat and the near 100 percent humidity to cut their hair. On the porch. Remember how it sounded so romantic that I trim my sweet children’s hair on that porch? How our words can deceive. Today was the pudding proof. They began crying before I ever got near their little sweaty heads. They all wanted someone else to be first. They all wanted it over. Now. Before we’d begun. They began crying that the hair made them itchy before one snip was made. I began yelling about as quickly as the hair was falling. I was angry. I was hot. I was tired. I was itchy.
And as I stewed in my anger, the madness turned guilt-ridden and sad. And the doubts took hold like the watermelon vines in my garden. I’ve often thought of the quiver-full movement and of my Catholic friends. How they know they are going to have as many children as the Lord blesses them with. Though there would seem to be a burden of just how I would make it, were that my path, there seems to me that there would also be a lightening of the load. Just knowing what is laid out before you. No decision to make. No guilt to bear. As it is, we love children. We’ve made the decision to have every one of them. Consciously, and with effort (except of course, our first wonderful surprise). We knew we wanted more than one. We knew we wanted them close. We felt drawn to have them. Each time. But we doubt. Should we have another? With so many comments at the store, so many people in our personal lives that cast doubt, raise questions, and generally wonder aloud, “Why?” we turn inward and wonder, as well. We don’t talk about it openly with others most of the time. The doubt, that is. We must present a unified presence. Put on a good face. Sleep in the bed we’ve made. As a blogger, I have to consider that there are people out there who hate people like me for having so many children. Especially when it’s at least as much of a decision as it is a belief. And I’m not so sure my skin is as thick as I need it to be to stand up to the criticisms.
And today I was my harshest critic. I cried along with my children by the time I was cutting the hair of the fourth one in line. I worried that they would be warped by a mom that cut their hair as opposed to being “normal” and taking them to a salon. I worried that I pushed them too hard. Fussed too much. Didn’t really hear them enough. See them enough. I simply wasn’t enough. And never am.
The turmoil died down with the showers. They became clean, comfortable resting little people on the couch. They liked their new cuts. They smiled much. They waited eagerly for Granna and Grandaddy to show up. They showed off their new do’s. They talked about how it wouldn’t be in their eyes now as they swam. How God made his highlights in front so cool. How the shortest haircut she’s ever had shows off her earrings that match her new purse Aunt Meredith sent to her. And I breathed a little easier.
But not much. Because once you feel the accusations in a day, it’s just hard to let them go. To go forward in confidence with the decisions you’ve made, defend, and somewhere deep inside really believe. That siblings are great. That they are all blessings that have been granted us – not really chosen, no matter what our outward actions would have you believe. That large families have large blessings. That, though there are trade-offs in having lots of small children, they are good and noble trade-offs. That my intentions will be recognized. That I really do love them with all my heart. Even though my heart is sinful, broken, and so far from perfect. That my children are looking forward to a new one. That tonight TheMiddlest put his lips close to my baby-moving belly and said, “Good night, Kenaniah.” That I am, maybe, possibly, not harming my children as much as my hormone-driven brain would have me to believe. That maybe this is a season that I will look back on as too short. And, with that thought, ask for the pure and lovely images to drive out the sadness and guilt that thought brings.
When uploading the pictures from the day with my parents, I looked hard at this picture of all four of them with their new haircuts and sweet smiles.
And I thought maybe, He knows more about what I’m doing, and why, than I do. And that tonight as I fight the urge to cry myself to sleep, that He will show me His mercies anew with the rain-washed night fading into sunlight. And maybe, I won’t feel as though I’ve blown it so badly tomorrow.