Testing Patience

Today was a day that God used to strengthen me. To stretch me. To test my patience and my willingness to lean on Him.

You see, Noah is my little wild child. God knows I love him, but he tests and pushes his limits every.single.day. Just when I thought he couldn’t push me any further, today happened.

Noah is the reason why I wanted to pull my hair out today. Noah is the reason why a glass of wine  sounded so very good this evening. Noah is the reason why I was crying out to God for strength all.day.long.

Not a bad thing, crying out to God. I really should do it more often.

Just last week, I started a day of school with the kids only to see grumpiness, unwillingness to obey and get along, disgruntled spirits, and loads of contention.

I cried out to God for help.

That day not much math work was done, no spelling words were practiced, penmanship was put on the back burner, and no one learned about the early explorers. Instead, we spent an entire day – yes, hours – reading and discussing God’s Word. We talked about obedience and contentment, kindness, love and loyalty. We prayed for each other and we prayed for ourselves.

At the end of the day I was tired. My kids were tired. But, it was a day spent stretching and growing. A test, of sorts.  And, I think we all passed.

Today? I’m not so sure.

I Know

I have a new life growing inside of my womb.
A precious baby to be added to our gaggle of children.

Soon-to-be-seven children for whom I am responsible.
To teach. To train. To guide. To love. To nurture.

AND

I’m tired. I’m overwhelmed.

BUT

I know that God has a perfect plan.

I know that God will provide.

I know that God does not give us more than we can handle.

I know that God works in me and through me in spite of my weaknesses.

soaring eagle
Do you not know? Have you not heard?
The Lord is the everlasting God, the Creator of the ends of the earth.
He will not grow tired or weary, and his understanding no one can fathom.
He gives strength to the weary and increases the power of the weak.
Even youths grow tired and weary, and young men stumble and fall;
but those who hope in the Lord will renew their strength.
They will soar on wings like eagles;
they will run and not grow weary,
they will walk and not be faint.

{Isaiah 40:28-31}

There is hope for me yet!

Tonight, while Daddy was snowboarding with our twins (yes, on in to the dark), I decided that I needed some air. Of course I had to bring my youngest four along on my quest for this new air, but I HAD to get out of the house.

So, I did what any insane mom with four young kids should do when she feels antsy. I took my little darlings out for pizza and promised them ice cream.

Only my kids didn’t act like little darlings.

They squirmed and fidgeted. They crawled under the table and tried to crawl over the table. They chattered incessantly. Quite loudly, I must add. They filled their cups with root beer. And then pink lemonade. They spilled their root beer. And their pink lemonade.

And instead of enjoying this time out with my four youngest children, I grumbled and complained. I raised my voice and reprimanded them. I took back my promise of ice cream.

And now, after they have all been tucked in and are sound asleep, I feel bad.

After all, they were just being kids. Kids fidget. Kids are loud. Kids spill stuff.

But I was worried. Worried about what others may think. Worried about what the parents of the beautiful little girls, both sitting quietly as they played on their bright blue DS, would think of me – the crazy mom with four unruly, and very loud, little brats.

So often do I worry about how we may be perceived that I forget to enjoy my children. I mean truly enjoy them.

Too often do I shush my children from speaking their minds for fear that we, as parents, would be seen as too lenient. Or that we may believe that ourselves.

Sometimes I even squelch their feelings, because kids shouldn’t be allowed to dislike a person, or feel anger towards someone for not believing them, right?

I find myself, on occasion, feeling as though I am simply suffering through this season of child-rearing, instead of truly enjoying these short days with the amazing little blessings God has given us to love.

Childern-Playing

My prayer, in this new year, is that I would ::

listen to my kids more,
shush them less

see things through their eyes,
not force them to see things through mine

play with my children more,
make fewer excuses

laugh more,
worry less.

My Big Family

Lo, children are a heritage of the Lord, and the fruit of the womb is his reward. As arrows are in the hand of a mighty man, so are children of the youth. Happy is the man whose quiver is full of them: they shall not be ashamed, but they shall speak with the enemies in the gate. Psalm 127:3, 4

six little ducklings

Yesterday the kids and I stopped at Carl’s Jr. while we waited for a few prescriptions to be filled. Noah was asleep and it was just the kids and me. As we sat there eating, a woman came and sat down near us and just stared at us. Now, I’m not talking about just watching us, but she sat with her mouth agape, glaring at us. My kids were not loud and obnoxious, but quiet and somewhat docile. All of them.

That got me thinking… Thinking about my family. Thinking about my big family.

Are big families that much of an anomaly that people have to stare, or was she just captivated by my children’s charm and cuteness?

As the oldest of five, growing up with a very large extended family, I didn’t really think much about the world’s perception of us. Except for when I’d hear “okay, kids, get your coats on… time to go,” a time or two, from a tired hostess. Or, when my parents were complimented on their children’s “surprisingly good behavior,” as if it was shocking that a large young family could also be nice dinner companions.

Now, as a mom of six young’ens myself, I am struggling with everyone’s perception of our family. Simply due to the fact that there are SIX little ones in tow, I know that people see us sit down at a table nearby and shudder. I guess if I didn’t have so many kiddos myself, and I saw half a dozen young kids parade in, with only two (sometimes even just one) adults, I may too.

On many occasions Ray and I have also been complimented on our children’s ability to behave in a restaurant or other venue. By those same people who cringed when we walked in, mind you. Maybe people shouldn’t be so quick to label the large families they see as unruly and chaotic.

No matter how well behaved my siblings and I were growing up, my family was hardly ever invited to any other family’s home. Now I understand why, because the same is true for us. I’ve discovered that people think of the sheer volume of us and the noise and activity that encompasses the eight of us and shy away. That and most homes just aren’t big enough to accommodate five rough and tumble boys. Ha!

To be fair, many of our friends are more than happy to come hang out here at our place. Perhaps that’s because our floors are already sticky or we can send our kids to their rooms, but I’m cool with that. You may be surprised at how strangers react to us, though. Aside from the stares and glare, many people just point, count, and frown as they walk by us. On more than one occasion I’ve turned around, before an unsuspecting passer-by even had a chance to add us all up, and said with a smile, “There are six of ’em and they’re all mine.

What do you do when you see a mom with more than a few ducklings walking behind her? Are you quick to assume they are a walking mass of chaos?

Perhaps you’re the mama or papa of a large family… How do people react to you and your brood?

The day CPS came a’knockin’

UPDATE 11/30/09 :: Ray received a call from Ms. CPS this afternoon. She had not a single question for him except to be sure he knew of the report and her visit earlier this month. He was informed that the case has officially been closed. Praise God!

UPDATE 2/16/10 :: We have discovered that the child our friendly neighbor almost hit – with his own car, mind you – was not, in fact, Noah. Sounds like other issues are at play here. So sad.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to give my friendly neighbor any satisfaction by writing about this, but decided that I have nothing to hide and this is a good lesson for all of us, really. I don’t know who called CPS to report us, but I do have my suspicions and I know this person will read this. I write about this incident here in hopes that others can learn from their mistake, which fortunately didn’t prove to be more than an inconvenience for anyone. While I don’t expect an apology, I do hope that this neighbor will do me the courtesy of a friendly chat if ever they see any of my kids in danger again.

~~~~~~~~~~~

So, imagine my surprise when a gal from Child Protective Services showed up at my door this morning. Of course, I immediately began questioning myself as a mom, and all the little doubts poured in to my head as I stood there while she introduced herself. What did I do to warrant an investigation? My kids are safe and well-loved, so why is she here? I really am a good mom, aren’t I?

I invited Ms. CPS in and offered her a glass of water. Just as I would have if you, as my neighbor or friend, had shown up at my door unannounced. She asked about the kids, who were taking a break from their morning studies to try out a new toy in the backyard, and mentioned she’d want to meet them after we had a chance to chat.

At this point, I still was unaware of the reason for the visit. I offered up a prayer to the One who gives me peace and knew instantly that I was not to fear. As Ms. CPS read me the report I couldn’t help but think that it all sounded like things a child who was known to be a tattle-tell would say…

“I can hear the kids outside playing all day long”
“Ben climbs on the mailbox”
“the twins are always hitting each other and playing rough with Josh”
“the older kids are out front unsupervised between 4-6 every day”


Oh, that’s weird, since my kids have had soccer practice twice a week, from 5-6, for the past several months! You think perhaps our neighbor was seeing the other dozen children who play outside every day? hmmm.

Then it turned ridiculous…

“Ray is never home”
“Christine is upstairs sleeping all day or on the computer”


Um, my husband works very hard to provide for his family and has a job, thank God. He works Monday through Friday 8am to 5:30pm, but is home every night for dinner, spends every weekend with his kids, and is not even close to being an absent father.

While I admit that I have a job that requires a lot of computer time, I can assure you that I do not spend as much time on the computer during the day as you may think. In fact, most of my computer time is after I’ve done school with my kids, and in the evenings. My husband has reason to complain, but certainly not a nosey neighbor.

Even Ms. CPS kinda laughed at the accusation that I sleep all day! Honestly, I don’t even get so much as a 2 hour nap on most weekends. I only wish I could sleep more, but I threw that dream out the window when I started having kids!

By the way, it may be helpful to know that none of these accusations – if that’s what you want to call them – are relevant to CPS’s jurisdiction and in no way are indicative of neglect.

The only valid concern Ms. CPS shared was that “Noah was seen in the street with just a diaper on” and apparently was “almost hit by a car.” Now, I do not make a habit of allowing my two-year-old to play out front without clothes on, especially without adult supervision. Most often, though, he is out front before I even realize he has escaped through the garage or out the back gate, as he is known to be quite the little escape artist as he follows his siblings around. To remedy this very real problem, Ray and I were already planning to install high locks on all of our doors, but in the meantime Noah is sure to escape again.

Honestly, what upsets me the most about all of this is that this neighbor who reported us knows all of our names and my children’s ages. S/he even mentioned stories I’ve written about here. Posing as a neighborly friend and finding it necessary to report a single valid incident was so not cool. It would have been nice if this person had walked Noah home after seeing him almost get hit by a car, like most concerned friends would have done, instead of calling CPS!

A big thanks to our CPS informant, however, for allowing me to prove to Child Protective Services what a good mother I really am and how well-taken care of my children are!

Now for the lesson…

Reporting parents to CPS for neglect is not something to be done lightly. If you feel it’s your neighborly duty to report parents, it’s certainly in your best interest to decide if that isolated incident you’ve witnessed is, in fact, neglect. I’ve been informed that CPS doesn’t take kindly to frivolous reports on good parents, and over time you will lose your credibility.