A new friend of mine invited me to write a post on adoption for her blog. You can read A Mom of 12 Shares the Beautiful Truth About Adoption. In reading some of the comments, there are a couple of questions asked that I actually hear fairly frequently. I thought perhaps doing a FAQ post, where I address some of the more common questions I'm asked would be interesting. (OK, maybe it won't be, but it gives me something to write about, so play along.)
1. How do you give all your children enough love and attention? Aren't the children in large families neglected because there aren't enough of the parents to go around?
Well, the honest answer is that I'm sure I don't give all of my children all the love and attention they need all of the time. I'm actually fairly certain that parents with smaller numbers of children don't do this perfectly all the time, either. I cannot do perfect. So with that off the table, the answer is, J. and I do our best. It helps to be a homeschooler. I have all day to interact with each of my children. It gives me the needed time. Here are some of the things I try to keep in mind throughout the day. Have I greeted each child and had a positive interaction with each of them before the demands of the day begin? This also has the benefit of giving me a chance to take that child's emotional temperature for the day. Am I going to need to pay closer attention to them than usual? Have I had a real conversation with each child? Did I actually look at that child and set aside whatever I working on when I had that conversation? Have I been able to say yes to that child today? Have I hugged each child and told them I love them?
Another thing to keep in mind is that some of the my children appreciate the fact that there are more children to dilute the parental focus and attention. I can be intense, and all of that intensity focused on just one or two children would be, well, intense. It has been agreed that the older half are thankful to have that intensity diluted. They don't really want (or need) my efforts directed at them and on their behalf all day, every day.
2. How much laundry do you do?
If I do at least one load of wash every day, with two loads every third day or so, I can keep up. This rarely happens for extended periods of time, and to get out from under it, I have been known to do two days in a row of five or six loads each day. I do not enjoy this.
3. What do you drive?
A 15-passenger van. What do I want to drive? That would be an electric blue Mini Cooper with black racing stripes.
4. How do you afford all those children?
I'm not sure we do, actually. It doesn't really make sense, but it has always worked out so far. I'm pretty sure my anxiety about money was not a part of making it all work out. But people usually want details with this. I don't buy a lot of processed food, buying in bulk and making things from scratch when I can. I make or buy second hand the vast majority of our clothes. We don't buy a lot of extras, and older children earn their own money to buy things such as small, expensive electronics. I limit extra curricular activities that are expensive, usually with the older children getting first priority in that realm. The younger ones will get their turns later on, and really, just playing is best for them anyway. No fancy vacations, we camp and invade family members instead.
But we have enough. Enough food, enough clothing, enough shelter, we do fun things, my children experience a lot. No one is deprived. God is faithful in taking care of us.
5. Do they all get along?
Yes, except when they don't. But there is always someone else to play with if you are having difficulties with a particular sibling. And then there are those people who engage in bickering for pleasure. We generally try to just tune them out.
6. Isn't it loud at your house?
Yes. If you find me shouting at you, just gently remind me that I can turn my volume down.
7. How do you do it? My two take all of my time.
This should, perhaps, be number 1. I think I hear it most often. I'm also never quite sure how to answer, because I wonder what it is that people think it is I do. I'm sure if they were to actually follow me around during the day, it would be fantastically disappointing. The other thing is, like you, my children take up my time. It's the nature of children. I don't get anymore time than anyone else, and I don't think I'm running a deficit. Can you even do that?
8. How do you cook for so many people all the time?
Cooking for a crowd is a learned skill. Remember, we didn't start out with 12 children, they came to us gradually. Certainly slowly enough that it was easier to figure out how to go from cooking for two, to cooking for three and so on. (I cannot cook for two anymore. I wouldn't even know where to begin.) I am really good at doubling and tripling recipes, and adding bulky fillers to meals to fill in the empty places.
How's that to start? I think I hit the ones I hear most often. Did I miss any?