"I could never do something like that. You must have SUCH patience!"
That's the comment I usually get when someone notices (gee, it's kinda hard to miss!) that I have six kids in tow and I'm looking mighty pregnant with number seven... as if I somehow have this magic "patience" gene that enables ME to mother many children.
I don't. It's just that simple. I don't have the kind of patience that others seem to assume I have.
What I *do* have, though (other than buckets of grace poured out on me every morning) is the help of so many wonderful people who give of themselves so freely and generously. Without prayer and their assistance, my husband and I wouldn't have made it this far in our parenting career. Truly.
Take Sheila and Bob, for example. They are friends and fellow parishoners who have truly blessed us in SO many ways. Sheila is always quick to say that they received such help from others when they were raising their kids, so they wanted to have the same opportunity to "pass that on" to others.
And do they ever!
We sit in front of them at Mass every Sunday, and our children LOVE the opportunity to get to sit next to them. From taking out a crying baby to helping a young one find the bathroom downstairs, Sheila is quick to offer a helping hand... They are also the Godparents of Kathryn, and take their role very seriously.
Birthdays? They remember.
Special anniversaries? You betcha.
Sheila also goes out of her way to make sure she gets to spend time with the kids on a regular basis. Last year, we took many field trips together. This summer, she invited us to the community pool (that she is a member of) once a week. Every Tuesday morning, my children have had the luxurious privilege of swimming in a REAL pool, learning how to swim, jump off the side, do flips, and just feel comfortable around the water. I cannot begin to take six kids to the pool by myself (and man both the real pool and the toddler pool) but with Sheila, I've been able to. They have been SO blessed by this, and yet she's quick to say that it is a real treat for HER to be able to spend time with them.
I thank God for people like Sheila and Bob, and the way they not only go out of their way to help us with our children, but make us feel like it's a joy for them to do so.
That is true Christ-like love in action!
But that's not all. God has made sure to surround us with friends who support us in raising our children -- from the network of close friends that I can call day or night when I am ready to lose it, to the steady stream of people who regularly give us clothes, shoes, meals (just for the heck of it!) and, just recently, a box of shoes for a certain five-year old who needs a few new pairs.
Or how about our DRE, who has been SUCH a huge support for us as a couple, encouraged us to get involved in various ministries of the parish, and supported us with all our homeschooling endevours...
... or our priest, who always comes over to talk to us after Mass and loves to spend time with the kids (we'll have you over for supper again soon, I promise!)
... and I cannot forget the women in our Bible study, who give me the spiritual boost I need every two weeks. I couldn't make it without them! Their prayers, encouragement, and spiritual insights are what I need to stay charged and positive when the going gets rough.
The whole point of this post is that NO ONE does this alone. No one. It would be impossible to raise a family without the love and support of the Body of Christ.
So if you see me in a store with my little brood, don't be amazed. Just know that I've got a whole team helping me mother these little ones, and together we'll do a great job.