It can be hard when someone that you respect, but who comes from a totally different life situation and background (read: fewer kids, or maybe just fewer boys :P) sees you struggling with a disciplinary situation, or simply with an everyday child- or household-management routine. My skin is a lot thicker than it used to be, but I still care too much about what people think when they see me wrestling in the pew, negotiating a social situation with kids in tow, or dealing with things that come up in the privacy of my own home (and oh my, it does seem that things tend to come up when someone’s there to see).
It’s tempting to allow myself to be discomfited by looking through someone else’s eyes at what appears to be household chaos, or to cringe through their ears at the domestic crescendos, or to wonder along with them whether all that brotherly jostling couldn’t really be prevented—or at least minimized!
That’s when I need to remind myself of a few things. For instance: Due to the sheer volume of bodies and attendant personal possessions, clothing, and projects, the house often looks less organized than it did back when I had only two kids—but I’m actually waaaay more organized now than I was then. There are always dishes in some state of cleanliness in or around the sink—but I have usual times to deal with them, including a commitment not to go to bed with dirty dishes in the house. Contrary to my visions of a happy, harmonious, homeschooling family, there are more interpersonal conflicts than ever—but when you remember that the potential for such is by now nearly exponential, based on number of persons together for endless hours, well, maybe that’s only to be expected. All the more opportunities for everyone to grow in consideration, communication, and negotiation!
Lest we forget: Some people have to pay for the privilege of having someone else cover them in oatmeal. Because they find it relaxing.