30 April 2008


I need it, but I hate needing it. In this day and age, why should anyone lend a hand when you're the crazy fool who decided to have all those kids? I made my bed.

There are lots of nice people who help us many times, many ways. Some people even get unhappy if I don't pester them enough (!). But in the back of my mind, I feel a lot of pressure to represent and not need the help. I want people to have no reason to doubt it when we say that children are a blessing and that God won't give you more than you can handle. I want people to look at us and think, that doesn't look so bad! I don't want to be the frazzled, exhausted, weepy mom in a dirty sweatshirt with a cobwebby house full of scraggly kids and overdue library books; living proof of the necessity of limiting family size. I don't want to give people a reason to think that our four kids under five are why I'm neurotic. I was neurotic to begin with, but they don't know that.

So here's my horrible secret: I can't do this. I'm too selfish and too lazy and too plain bad at all of it. I'm too scared to go through labor again. There's no way I'm hobbling through another third trimester with a painfully hyperextended pelvis. I'm done with 45-minute nursing sessions three times a night. I'm no good with kids, my own included. I can't keep up this act. This is more than I can handle. I am maudlin, dirtily shirted, and librarily negligent.

Don't tell, though, ok? I'm sure no one would believe it anyway.


Lucy said...

Bless you! Your post is my life right now and to have other women going through the same thing makes me think I'm going to be ok.

I keep thinking this experience (3 kids under 3; 3 in diapers; potty-training while sleep deprived) is here to teach me things. And some days I don't wanna learn. But your post is such a blessing - thank you! Many children, little sleep, late library books, crazy kids in said library, laundry/dishes/cobwebs that are about to take over the house are all things I never thought I'd have.

Susan said...

>>no reason to doubt it when we say that children are a blessing

Faith believes the word against all evidence to the contrary.

>>and that God won't give you more than you can handle

I know everybody says this. But just where does GOD say this? Are you referring to the passage in 1 Cor 10??

Adam Roe said...

Hopefully you can take some comfort in knowing there's a pretty cool chick just down the road who's feeling the same way. My Christian conscience isn't exactly at the top of her list of concerns right now.

As for the image...no promises of white picket fences have been given by the good pastor, so please don't think the laity expects you to be perfect. We love you guys know matter how you look or feel. :)

Reb. Mary said...

Rebekah-Well, no need for me to post today. You just said it all. :O (Except for the fact that I SHOULD be more together, since I only have 3-under-4, but I'm NOT).
More later, if life permits...right now the baby is chewing my [unwashed] shirt off; might have to nurse him.

Reb. Mary said...

oh--Susan, I think you're right. God DOES give us more than we can handle (hence my life!) but is supposed to give us the strength to deal with it.

Susan said...

But Reb. Mary, where does it say that? See, I hear you guys saying things I used to say when my brood was littler. But now I'm wondering where I got that idea.

Rebekah said...

Lucy, 3 in diapers! :O You are a hero!

Susan, good point. I imagine the notion is some folk version of 1 Cor. 10. God knows I "handle" many of these trials shamefully. Do we think that if we don't die on the spot, go insane, or run away when something lousy comes down the line that we've somehow succeeded?

Adam, you're cool and so's Mrs Adam. I'm going to call you one of these days to get our reservation in for some postpartum assistance over at your place.

Susan said...

Rebekah, I don't handle many of the trials at all; I just mess 'em up. When I whine at Pastor that Paul said, "I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me," he reminds me that I can't jump off the Empire State Building and I can't lift 8000 pounds. There are some things we cannot do. And sometimes our ideas of managing a household full of small children simply cannot be accomplished.

And when I have whined at my father-confessor that God will not give us more than we can handle, the only verse I have to back that up is the Corinthians passage. And then Pastor goes and reminds me that that passage is about "a way out" in the face of temptation. So it's not so much about being able to DO something as it is that God provides "the way out" (that is, the forgiveness of sins in the absolution as Christ's-death-for-me is proclaimed).

I love the theology of glory so much. (Kyrie eleison.) I think God should give me the strength to handle the situations where He has plunked me. But He seems to think that faith is more important than my doing what I'm supposed to do. "God's will is done when ... He strengthens and keeps us firm in His word and faith until we die." So God, in His infinite wisdom and love, gives me more than I can handle. Then I learn that it's not about me, it's not about my obedience, it's not about His giving me the strength to obey Him. Rather, it is about being crushed, about knowing my inadequacy, about knowing that I canNOT handle it. Because then I have nothing but Him and His grace. Not "grace" to help me be good, but the grace of the forgiveness of sins.

Like my father-confessor keeps reminding me, the cross hurts. Our nice little Lutheran intellects readily assent to the superiority of the theology of the cross over the theology of glory. But we crave the theology of glory. Because the theology of the cross hurts. Really hurts. Like cryin'-in-your-pillow-at-night kinda hurt. Like physical pain from mastitis and the last trimester of pregnancy. Like when you see your children lie or fight or zone out during devotions. We want it to be right. We want everything to be pious and good. We want to be successful Christians. But God wants us broken sinners to depend only on Him and not to focus on our piety.

The cross hurts.
And I don't like to hurt.
"To make alive, God first puts to death."

Gauntlets said...

And this is why I never post. Not only do I never have time but you say it better anyway. Criminy, do I ever hear you.

Still more earnestly, you are my friend whom I most admire. I am glad you are populating the world with more of your ilk.

The older they get the more they can do. Don't give up hope. It may be wise, however, to give up expectations. ;)

Reb. Mary said...

Susan--excellent points, well taken. Sounds like you're blessed with a good pastor (and he with a good parishioner :) )

Rebekah--I do think that some days not running away counts for a lot. Thank goodness I have a problem with losing my car keys; leads me not into temptation.

Gauntlets: Amen to giving up expectations rather than hope. Especially when those expectations are related to housekeeping...

Rebekah said...

Susan, to illustrate your thoughtful comments, Dad and I contracted food poisoning and were up most of the night practicing the theology of the cross. SHEESH.

Gauntlets, put down that pumice stone, step away from the toilet, and you'll find more time for blogging like I do. Light up our lives and post sometimes. ;)

RM, I have the same problem with my keys. Coincidence?

Rebecca said...

Ok, ladies. I've been eavesdropping on this conversation off and on for some time, mainly out of curiosity about how the "other half" lives (the fertile half). I feel it's time to finally ask the big questions: Knowing what you know now, if you somehow had the chance to be in my situation-one adopted son and still undergoing infertility testing-would you just stop, be satisfied with what God had given you, and pour yourself into other noble endeavors? I wonder what responsibility the Christian infertile couple has in this day and age. Should they feel obligated to adopt, to "provide for the orphans," since the Lord has removed their ability to conceive? Or should they use their extra time to focus on the things of God, similar to Paul's exhortation to the single man/woman? It is obvious that the Lord has chosen to spare certain women of the hardships that you share. I'm beginning to wonder if my infertility should be viewed as more of an opportunity than a curse. And if you had this opportunity, what would you do with it?

Angelika said...

Could it be that one of the reasons parents (moms mostly) with large families have such a hard time coping is because we seem to be the minority? I'm surrounded by elderly ladies who all have had 4, 5,6,or more kids. They all talk about how they all used to help each other out and get together regularly. They were all stay at home moms. Now everyone else is having their 1.2 child family (or what ever the number is) and going to work, which leaves us stay at home moms with children to spare alone with no (or little) support system.

Was it easier in the "old days" when most moms were in the same boat and could help each other out? Or were they just as flustered as we are?

Susan said...

They were just as flustered. But they had one thing we don't have: others around who knew what it was like. Our 80-yr-old friends who had 6 kids were not being told "you are hogging more than your share of the world's resources" nor "you made your bed, now lie in it."

Kelly said...

I was thinking about the "old days" as well. While I'm grateful for (and dependent upon!) many of the modern conveniences that make life easier and supposedly more enjoyable, I can't help but think how the desire to possess more and more of those things have contributed to a cheapening of the family. For example, I live in a 2-bedroom, one bath house in a neighborhood where many post-WWII moms and dads raised 3, 4, and sometimes more kids in those 2 (and in the case of the very well off, 3) bedrooms. When people come to see our newly remodeled house, one of the first things they say is, "What are you going to do if you have another one?" Since when has it become a mortal sin for kids to share bedrooms? The implication is that if children don't have their own everything - room, ipod, computer, you name it - the parents are somehow failing in their duties. (Not that I have any desire to stack kids like cordwood in one tiny bedroom, but it has been done before and no one seems the worse for wear.) :)

Rebekah said...

What are you people all doing up so late?! ;)

Kelly, I've been keeping my eye on triple-decker bunk beds on Ebay for a while now . . . the day may be coming! But thank God for his faithful people who in days of old built sturdy parsonages with lots of bedrooms.

Susan, I think that analysis is right on.

And Rebecca--good to hear from you. :) Let me ponder those questions into a post for you, ok?

Heidi Heidenreich said...

Hang in there. I'm expecting my 7th baby and my first four were very close in age. I've been surprised at how little help I've been offered over time. I assume that most figure I got myself into this, so I must be able to do this on my own. I've always been afraid to look frazzled and worn out and I've been afraid people would talk if my kids looked messy and unkempt. Finally, after my 6th, I stopped worrying about what other people thought and started concentrating on what God thinks. He doesn't care if my kids or my house are a mess. He only cares that I am raising the gifts He has given me in his love. This has been very liberating for me and now I'm much more peaceful and truly happy. Also, now my 16,15 and 13 year old girls are invaluable helpers to me. May God give you the help and strength you need.
Yours in Christ,
Heidi Heidenreich

Reb. Mary said...

Rebecca--Good questions! I look forward to future conversations on Rebekah's pending post :) I'm sure you'll have an interesting perspective to lend.

I think y'all are right on with the lack of community/those who are going thru similar things or who have been here, done this. Hey, let's buy some land and start a CSPP commune! Well, at least we've got some virtual community for now...

Reb. Mary said...

Nice to know that they do grow up and get helpful eventually--at least the girls! Anyone have any hope to offer me about whether boys of that age are similarly helpful?!

Rebekah said...

Thanks, Heidi. I'm far from having perfected the art of not caring if the mess I've been wanting to deal with for weeks isn't going to get dealt with today either. But I think the kids still like me so maybe I haven't failed yet.