In a big family, there are a lot of people with needs.
It’s like my daughter told me the other day: “I want to get my hair cut. Because if it’s shorter, it won’t be as long.” Haha!
When my first son was born, he was the star of the show. A show I’d been waiting to be in for 22 years, mind you–or at least from the time I was old enough to play with dolls! I’m not sure he left my sight for more than 2 hours ever in that first year, and of course I’ve been a fan of keeping my chicks close ever since then. Keeping them home from school means I’ve got an extra 1,260 hours–1,260 of the *best hours of the day,* mind you–and I’m grateful for that time. It means we know each other, all of us. We know the quirks and the struggles, the brilliance and the dull spots. One of the funniest things we’ve noticed is that our babies, when about 12/13 months, seem to catch a third or fourth wind every night around 10 pm, when everyone else has gone to bed. They’re generally still up in the living room with us, and the child who was whiny 15 minutes before the room clears suddenly turns on the charm, twirling around the room, saying all the words they know, and showing off. It’s as if they know it’s “their time.”
But there never seems to be enough time. I always wish for more.
When we first found out Zachary was on the way, we were so excited! What could be better than having two of these wonderful people who belong to just us around? Quickly, though, the enemy came in with one of his sharpest arrows: fear. How will I have time for both of them? How will I love another one with this crazy-extreme-mama-bear love? I laugh to think of it now, but at the time it was a real question.
Of course, the moment Zachary came into the world blew all those fears out the window. Here he was! Another of our own! And love did what I’d finally come to hope against hope it would do . . . Zach’s birth didn’t subtract from the love we had for Bo. It didn’t even merely add to it. When we were finally all together in one room, I found love had multiplied.
And so it has every time. Love multiplies, over and over. It’s an amazing thing to see.
Yet of course like every mom, once in awhile I know everyone has a need for a little alone time. Which, of course, is a bit hard to come by around here–and most of the time, that’s a good thing! There’s always someone to play horsies with, or to toss a football outside with or shoot a paintball gun at or weasel into handing you wrenches while you’re under the car. The kids are (most of the time!) so glad that it’s pretty much always a party around here!
But we recognize their need for alone. And we’ve tried to find ways to make that time happen. There are seasons we’re better at it than others, and seasons where our schedules don’t seem to allow for anything extra at all. When it’s possible, though, our favorite plan is Date Night. On each child’s monthly birth-day (for Bo it’s the 7th of every month, for Zach the 20th, etc.) a parent takes them out for a few hours for some one on one time. We as parents just alternate whose turn it is to take them. Of course, it makes for a crazy third week of the month (we have birthdays–all occuring in one month, in fact!– on the 16th, 17th and 20th) but all in all, it’s worth it. It’s simple to remember, and the kids will remind you, believe me! I wish it was something we’d come up with a long time ago, because it’s definitely a valuable thing to do and a great habit to start, no matter how many children you have! Whether it’s been breakfast at IHOP, a movie or just a coffee at Starbucks, it’s a wonderful time to make a connection and tie some heart strings.
For this year my plan is to go with odd-birthday-dates on the odd-numbered months. I’ve got to get my oldest out for coffee before he heads back to college, and I think my third-born is next on the list. I’m looking forward to hearing what’s new in their lives that I don’t know about . . . at least some of it. As a wise mom once told me, “You earn the right to hear about the girl they want to marry way back when they want to tell you about the frog they caught in the back yard.”
Have a wonderful weekend–and try to squeeze in some date time with your kids!