Sunday, March 6, 2016

Why everyone should have a baby when there are older children in the house

Macie will be 2 months old this week.  My other five kids range in age from 5 to 13.  In fact, we're at the easy part of the year when there is an even two years between everyone's ages-- 5, 7, 9, 11, and 13.  That all changes when birthday season begins in July!   When the others were tiny, motherhood was physically demanding.  There was always someone who needed to be carried or bathed or fed.  It was also mentally and emotionally demanding.  How can I meet the needs of all these little people well?  How can I do it and not let my house disintegrate into dust and clutter?

The 5-year break between kids gave me surprising perspective.  I don't feel as though I'm the same mom I was to the others.  Everyone needs to have a baby when they have older kids in the house.  Obviously I speak in jest.  I know people can't or don't have children for a variety of reasons, but there is peace and clarity that comes with time and age.

This time around I have older children who want to share my workload.  They ask if they can help-- to vacuum, cook, or hold the baby.  Having responsible baby-holders (versus ones who must be hovered over while they practice with the baby propped on pillows) is a game-changer. Moms of tiny ones understand the luxury of putting on a load of laundry using both hands.  Or even-- gasp!-- going to the bathroom alone. 

As on older mom, I also have the wisdom of fleeting time.  I understand and appreciate that this baby could be the last and I'm able to savor her a little more.  I'm in no hurry for her to grow up.  When she abandoned that scrunched-up newborn pose, with her legs pulled to her body in a classic fetal position, I felt a little sad inside. Watching her little legs developing fat rolls and witnessing her first gummy smiles are rocking my world. Each milestone is sweet. 

I'm not even minding the lack of sleep.  Admittedly, Macie is a good sleeper.  [She naps in the front wrap every morning.  She sleeps 2-3 hours in the afternoon in bed on her own and catnaps in arms in the evening.  She typically goes to bed around ten, waking once or twice to nurse before getting up at seven.]  But life and sleep with a baby is unpredictable and I'm learning not to mind.  I can even smile when I'm rubbing my sleepy eyes as I sit up with a nursing or wide awake baby in the wee hours of the morning. 

You know how everyone tells you to enjoy the baby years because they go so quickly.  I used to believe it my mind but struggle to put it into practice.  Now I've witnessed the truth of those words and I'm finally at a place where I can let go and savor.  Sure.  I still get frustrated and wish I could get more sleep or wish I could do something besides hold the baby all day long, but I know this stage won't last. I'm able to say to myself, "It's only one night. This isn't forever."  I'm don't have to rock my 13-year-old to sleep and my 11-year-old does not wake me at 5 am.  It won't last.

Before Macie was born, the ladies at my church gave me a baby shower.  Each woman in attendance wrote a message of encouragement on the front of a diaper.  They were called "middle of the night" diapers and were meant to uplift my spirit as I shuffled through the sleep-deprived nights with a newborn.  As it turns out, Macie was too tiny to wear those diapers in the beginning, but we're delving into them now.  I choose one on days or moments when I'm feeling particularly vulnerable or overwhelmed. Reminders that "the days (and nights) are long, but the years are short" or "the Lord will see you through" are just what I need at those times.  Another diaper said simply, "Pray," so I did.  And another said, "Eat a cookie." It's good advice all around! 

I think I'm gaining a new perspective on bad days.  A few weeks ago, we had a day when Macie didn't sleep or stop crying almost all day long.  Last Sunday, she was restless, fussy, and loud throughout the morning and I spent most of the church service out in the hall, even though a few of my kids were singing with the children's choir and I wanted to watch them!   On Tuesday, every time I laid Macie down for a nap, she woke back up, and didn't settle down for good until after 3 pm!  I texted Brian that we were having a rough day.  He texted back that he was sorry and I surprised myself by responding, "Just life.  It's okay."  And I meant it.  Despite my frustration, lack of free time, and the state of my messy house, I was choosing to put it in perspective. Those days, and any other day, is just a blip in time.

All this is not to show what a great and patient person I am.   I am not.   I like things just-so and prefer schedules-- and all things-- to go my way.  It's not to brag that I can get less sleep and not complain.  I do sometimes.  But the Lord is working on me.  Having a baby with older children in the house is transforming my thinking.  I'm more focused on people, not perfection.  Motherhood is changing me.
(Click here for other posts in this series.)


  1. It's like you wrote this post about my life! We welcomed our second almost a year ago (Mar. 31, time flies!), when our oldest was 12 1/2. You are right- it really gives you a different perspective. The picture of Macie and Gavin reminds me of a common sight at our house :)

  2. I have a 14 year old, 12 year old, 2.5 year old and a 1 year old, your post is so true, it's an amazing experience to watch your older kids love the little ones, it's a completely different relationship than they have with their nearer in age siblings. I also find myself with more patience this time around because you do realize how quickly these precious years fly by and appreciate them much more.


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