Dear Mothers of Large Families,
Several years ago I went to Mass at a neighboring parish and I sat behind a large family. I literally had a front row seat to their family dynamic.
Now, if you know me at all, you know that I have a freakishly special place in my heart for mothers of large families. I love being Catholic and I love Natural Family Planning. I love when a mom of nine is pregnant with number ten. I love love love that.
I also know (from personal experience!) that she will be tired and cranky and she may need a smile, a meal or a bottle of wine every so often. Life is messy and mothers of large families will have more “mess” to deal with. They will need more help. I get that.
Every mom of large families will have many bad days.
Here’s the deal. The mom that was sitting in front of me at Mass on that particular Sunday was not having a bad day. She was having a bad life.
She was not cranky, she was mean. She ruled her family in a way that made my stomach hurt. Her anger was etched in permanent lines on her face.
Her kids were scared of her.
After about half an hour, I was scared of her.
No smile came from her lips. No words of love or encouragement.
Her outward appearance was Nasty. There was NOTHING about her that was attractive to me.
I had the overwhelmingly urge to wash her hair.
I wanted to buy her a little make-up. Or perhaps just a smile.
As I watched her interact with her brood, I felt sort of let down on behalf of all mothers of big families. The way she was acting and reacting, Being a Mom of Many was Pure Hell.
And if she was the advertisement for big family living, then everyone in their right mind would only have TWO kids.
I felt sorry for her.
Then I heard this question, either from my subconscious or from The Holy Spirit,
“Lori, would anyone, glancing into your life, want to trade places with YOU?”
Over the weeks and months that question worked itself into the innermost part of my being, that place where the quiet Lori lives.
Would someone, glancing into my life, want to trade places with me?
What kind of attitude do I wear for my husband and kids to experience on a day-to-day basis? Was I consistent or did I ebb and flow with the hormonal tides?
Would someone, glancing into my life AT ANY GIVEN TIME, want to trade places with me?
I will just tell you, that question has righted me on numerous occasions and it has been a source of massive inspiration for me.
When my heart is mangled and selfish and feeling overwhelmed, the question gets asked. “Would anyone, knowing how you are reacting to this stress, want to trade places with you?”
Nope. They’d run for the hills.
So I imagine a mom looking into my life and I shift gears; I begin my litany of praise. I have so much to be grateful for.
I find my center.
The question has helped me with cleaning. You see, I have a love/hate relationship with cleaning the house. I love it clean, I just don’t want to spend all of my time cleaning. But when I see piles of papers or a terrible mess that I created, I ask, “Would anyone, glancing in right now, want to trade places with me?”
I imagine another mom looking at my clutter, feeling overwhelmed. She would NOT want to be in my shoes.
If she doesn’t want to live like that, neither do I.
So I clean, fast and furious.
And I say to my clean spaces, “Yes, other mamas would love living my life. I have just created an aesthetically pleasing home. Bang, bang.”
I am grateful for the lesson (inadvertently) given by the mom that sat in front of me at Mass several years ago. I want to “advertise” loud and clear through my words and actions that Being a Mom of Many is pretty cool.
“Would anyone, glancing into your life, want to trade places with you?”