Mothering many. What does that look like?
I arrived at motherhood 19 years old, my life-plan wrecked, and my brain and heart in agreement that I was unworthy of the job. Still, I was determined to be the best. I read all the books and talked to mentors, trying to absorb their wisdom that had been gained by years of experience in the hardest job in the world. And, I’m sure you know- I was still so unprepared.
In early motherhood it all felt big. Too much. Too impossible- not only do I have to make sure the kiddo was well looked after, but what about behavior? Character building? Friends? Academics?
As a result I did all the things. Homemade baby food? Check. Meticulously curated baby book? Check. Strict screen time rules? Heck yeah. Our firstborn has always been a milestone slugger. He knocked them out of the park. Play dates? Oh yeah. Educational toys? Yep. Fast forward 14 years to kid number 7….
Baby food? Ha. She ate whatever we were eating and I’m calling it a win because of her impressive palette. (Y’all don’t believe this mess. If you only knew how many times I’ve yelled, “Stop licking the floor!”) Baby book equals whatever posts on the gram she happened to make it into as well as an impressive library of photos on OneDrive that I’ll probably never print. Screen time rules. *Cackles* That’s so funny. Milestones? Miss Sassafras does what she wants when she wants and refused to walk until she was almost 2. Friends? We’re working on it, but right now she’s been sent home from MDO twice and we’ve been kindly asked to come get her spicy self from the church nursery once. Also- her favorite toy is whatever she knows she shouldn’t have.
As our kid-count increased, my ability to micromanage every aspect of their lives and our household decreased. I let go of a lot of the expectations I’d placed on myself. Forfeiting my ideas of how parenting should look allowed me an empty bucket and the ability to distill our parenting down to what matters most in our family: Each other, gratitude, character. Our hard and fast rule is: Be a good human. Any behavior we address falls under this umbrella. (And I don’t mean just for the kids. Sometimes this mama needs an attitude adjustment too.) No one said mothering many would be smooth sailing!
In my parenting evolution as a mom to multiple children I’ve slowly applied this same principle to other aspects of our life.
The idea that less is more is alive and thriving at the Casa De Moore. While we can’t apply it to our grocery list, we can and do put it into practice in other areas of life. We don’t hold onto a lot of junk and are careful about items that come into our home. With 9 people bringing stuff in it can quickly get overboard. We are thoughtful about events and activities because by now we know that the predictability of being together is something that every single one of us benefits from. We don’t have it all figured out, but we are closer than we were 14 years ago.
Most days I feel like I’m still winging it while mothering many, but at least I know the direction I’m flying this hot mess of a household. Rather than feeling overwhelmed when other people ‘should’ all over me, I feel a sense of gratitude. I know which snippets of advice to file and which get tossed. It’s humble confidence. And I say humble because until the first one has successfully launched (and doesn’t boomerang) all I’ve got are hopes and theories.
Four kids in school and three preschoolers at home gives me perspective. They won’t always be in diapers. Or licking the floor. They won’t always color on every available piece of wall in their room with red permanent marker. And one day they will all go to the bathroom on their own. (Hallelujah!) In just a blink they’ll be learning how walk out hard things with their friends while practicing healthy boundaries, or feeling the sting of natural consequences when they forget to do an assignment. The only constant to this mothering many thing is that everything changes. Blessedly, that includes me.
Be sure and check out Amanda’s other baby, Foster Village Waco.