It's Wednesday, and we've reach a new normal. Brendan has graduated from college, and after a few days visiting with us, he has gone "home". Yes, he even said out loud that this is the place he "visits" from now on! :-( Pete is still in college, and, so, technically, still lives here, but he is spending the summer on campus working and playing Ultimate Frisbee with his teammates. (They'll be going to Nationals in a couple of weeks!) He went back on Monday.
So, here we are. I have six children, but only 3 at home. And it's quieter than ever since swim team season has started. Let me tell you, nothing makes me feel older than telling a young-ish mom that I've just met that I have six kids, but 3 of them are out of the house. I never thought it would happen!
The past few summers have been absolutely crazy with all of them home wanting to use the same car at the same time. But that seems to be over now, too.
People say it all the time....enjoy these years while they're young, because they'll be gone before you know it....but...WOW...it's true. So much energy wasted on worrying about how this or that was going to get done (when it always managed to get done, or it didn't need to be done, after all). So much energy wasted on trying to be the perfect housewife, as if that is what defines who I am. I'd really much rather be known as the fun mom who always had time for a smile and a hug or a game with the children. I'd rather be known as the mom who raised young saints.
Life does get a bit crazy with a large family....not that I think 6 is all that large....let's talk to my friend with 10....and some of that is unavoidable, but how we respond to it is our choice. After many, many years of really congested calendar weeks (and I have always tried really hard not to over schedule the family!) where I was frantic, I finally saw that the week ended and it all got done. Somehow. Either someone stepped in to help and I didn't have to do it all myself. Or someone got sick. Or events were cancelled. Or I let the housework and laundry go for a few days. It. always. got. done, and if I had known that it would at the beginning of the week, I would have been a much calmer mom!
So, I'm here to tell you, Dear Readers, the time is short. I know you can't imagine how short, but it is. Stop reading blogs while your children pull at you and ask for things---games, snacks, hugs, whatever---go love them.
---Come up with a household management system that is do-able. Enlist your kids to help because that's the only way they will have a clue how to take care of themselves when they leave home!
---Find out what your husband's minimum standards are. My husband just wants to be fed; other husbands might not care about food as much. ;-)
---Speaking of food...have family dinners every night. Yes, every night. We might not all be there every night, but those of us who are sit down together and talk. It might not be fancy, but we do it. I might not be there, but I get it prepped so the kids can finish it. Family dinners are the one thing that we've always done, and I am so thankful for!
---My husband's important laundry is taken care of at the dry cleaners, not by me. Maybe some people don't mind ironing shirts, but we figured out many years ago that the cost at the cleaners was minimal compared with the stress of my trying to replicate their job with children underfoot!
---Keep a family calendar, either on the computer/phone or wall, so you know what needs to be done when, and you can learn to say "No" when it gets too full!
I'm so thankful that I've learned some of these lessons while I still have children at home to practice them on! (Reason #57,612 why big families are good.) I hope some of it will rub off on the older ones.
Life is short. Go live it. Love your family.