1. DH took everyone (except Grace) on a trip this weekend. Praise God, everyone made it back, safe and sound. There's nothing quite like seeing your life... your heart... get into a van and drive away. You better believe I tossed up prayers for their protection all during that time!
2. The good side to the trip is that I had the wonderful opportunity to spend time alone with Grace. Granted, I can't say I enjoyed being asked to play "Little People" or "My Little Pony" over and over again, but still, it was a Heaven-sent gift to spend time with my little girl. We went shopping, played, read stories, went to First Friday Mass, played some more, ate together, and talked. It's easy to fall into "pack mentality" when you are the mom of many children, and it's crucial to take the time to get to know each of them individually. This was a blessing for me as I'm getting ready to give birth to #8 to have this time with Grace. I hope she remembers all the fun we had this weekend.
3. Along those same lines, being with Grace also reminded me how incredibly hard it is when you have just one or two children at home. They expect you to be their everything.. the source of entertainment... their sole conversation partner... their companion through all parts of their day... and it is exhausting. I remember the days when I only had Sean and Reilly, and I was exhausted in a way I had never experienced before. I think many people, seeing how difficult it is during those years, freak out over the thought of having any more children because they can't possibly imagine that adding MORE kids to the mix would make their lives easier.
PLEASE believe me. It gets easier the more children you have. They play with, support, entertain, and help each other to make up for any "lack" on your part. It is a blessing that I wouldn't necessarily have believed myself, but it is true. I remember crying out to God for a break... a serious break... only to find out I was pregnant with baby #4. I thought God must hate me to give us another child so close to baby #3. Couldn't He see how overwhelmed I was? Turns out #4 (Christopher) turned the tide for DH and I both. It was then that we finally learned that we couldn't be all things to all kids all the time, and the pressure lessened substantially.
4. And that lesson is being driven home to me again as I (1) wait these last few weeks for baby #8 and (2) get ready to start week #2 of homeschooling at our house. The kids have adapted SOOOO well to the new way of schooling. I was trying so hard to be this wonder-teacher, formulating lesson plans that magically meshed grades 1-6 together. It took hours every weekend and I was totally burned out. (usually a good sign that perhaps I'm not doing something God's way... that I'm trying to accomplish something through my own power, which fizzles out rather quickly.)
5. The first reading at Mass today was incredibly appropriate for me, seeing as during that reading, I *was*, in fact, comforting a small child on my lap while keeping my other arm around Thomas, who was desperate for some Mommy time after being away for two days. I knew the love I was feeling for those children during that moment, and to think of God loving us the same way was a thrill for me.
May you all have a safe and blessed 4th of July... and may God bless America!