Guest Blogger Kelsey Burrows, on her Family and Judgments Surrounding it:
Hi, my name is Kelsey.
I’m twenty-nine years old and I’m a mom. I am a mom of five living, breathing, beautiful monsters. They leave their clothes on the floor, and toothpaste spit in the sink. They forget to turn off lights, or just don’t care about the electric bill. They leave messes just about everywhere they go, and generally don’t pick them up without being asked at least twice. They fight with each other constantly, over practically nothing. I rarely get to sit down and eat a meal with them because I’m too busy helping the younger ones get their plates, cutting up their meat, pouring drinks, cleaning up spills, and getting out some random condiment that I inadvertently forgot. By the time I get done shoveling food down my throat, they’re all done and I’m reminding them to clean up their plates, finish homework, get ready for volleyball or soccer, or whatever extracurricular activity is going on. It’s generally pure chaos in my house from dinner until bedtime. At the end of the day, I wonder how I managed to survive their waking hours. Let’s not even start on the damage they do to the bank account with all their wants, and “needs”, and actual necessities. That alone can drive a person over the edge.
Looking back fifteen years ago, if you would have told me that I would have five kids and be divorced by the time I was thirty, I’d have looked at you like you were out of your mind. I wanted to go to college, maybe get married, travel a little, and then maybe settle down and have a baby or two. But yet, this is my life. I rarely go into public with all five of my kids without getting some kind of look insinuating that I am a crazy person. But guess what? I am a crazy person. My kids drive me to the brink of insanity, multiple times a day. It’s amazing to me that I have any hair left on my head. So often in a day, I’m frustrated enough that I could probably pull it out without a second thought. You haven’t lived life until you’re trying to cook dinner while a whiny two year old asks for a fruit snack, and his seven and eight year old sisters fight over whose turn on the computer it is. And then, my favorite is the “MOM! He just shot me in the eye with a Nerf dart!”. Yes, this is my life.
Occasionally though, there are times when we go out in public when my kids behave. Quite honestly, they behave most of the time when we have to go places. That’s not to say that one or two of them don’t cop an attitude over wanting candy or to look in the toy aisles, but they’re generally good kids. While we’re at it, my kids are pretty awesome. They’re smart, they’re caring, they’re mostly hilarious. I have some of the best times with them, even if it can be a little stressful. So when you see me with my kids while I’m out in public with that look of pity in your eyes, I’m generally looking at you like you’ve lost your mind. You’re judging me, someone you don’t even know, because of how many kids I have? Don’t you have anything better to do with your life? Both of my grandparents come from families where they had several siblings, and by several, I mean upwards of five. It only seems natural that I have a large family too. Some days, I question my life choices. Most days though, I thank God that He has blessed me with these five kids who are daily reminders of why I’m here on earth.
I’ve been asked so many times, “Are all these kids yours?”, while I’m grocery shopping. Let me ask you, do you routinely suggest that your kids bring their friends along to run your errands? I don’t either. So yes, to my knowledge, all these kids I have with me while shopping the aisles of Walmart are in fact my children. The sandy blonde hair and fair complexion doesn’t give it away I guess. I understand that your questions are not necessarily intended to be judgmental or rude. Your questions, though, cause me to question my worth as a parent. Is there a reason you’re asking me if all these kids are mine? Why did you ask if I’m planning on having more? Should I not? Am I not a good enough parent to have five kids? What if I want six, or seven kids? Surely you’d really judge me then.
Well actually, I don’t have five kids. I have six. I gave birth to an angel baby in June, at only twenty-nine weeks pregnant. There isn’t a day that goes by that I don’t think of her. I wonder what her smile would have looked like, or if she would have had any hair or teeth yet. I think about what an awesome set of older siblings she would have had. She was taken from me before I even got to hear her cry. It was a devastating blow, one that I feel the effects of everyday. When you ask someone if they’re done having kids, or jokingly ask if they know how babies are made, be sensitive. There are people like me out there who thought their families were complete, and then a surprise came along that rocked their world. People like me, who fell in love with the baby they were carrying inside them. People who dreamed about what their baby would look like, sound like, what their personality would be like. Would they cry 24/7 and make me want to smack my head against a wall in frustration? I’d give anything to be able to be up all night with a crying seven month old right now.
I no longer feel like my family is complete. My heart grew to accommodate that sixth little being, and now there is a void where her tiny little smile should be. So while my five kids are sometimes brats, they’re sometimes mouthy, and they fight all the time, they are here with me. I can hold them close, and kiss them goodnight, and tell them I love them whenever I so choose. It isn’t right to look at someone and make assumptions about their lives based on the number of kids they have. If you only have one child by choice, good for you. You knew your family was complete. If you have two kids, or ten kids, good for you. If you chose not to have kids at all, I understand that too. But, don’t judge other people because of their choices in procreation. Some of us have experienced losses greater than what you could ever imagine. Those losses sometimes effect our choices.
I hear, “Wow, you really have your hands full”, at some point during almost every outing with my kids. Most of the time, I just ignore it. Sometimes people jokingly ask me if I know how babies are made, or if I’m planning on having more. I love my kids. You don’t have to, because they aren’t your kids. So yes, all these kids are mine. Yes, I’m a little crazy. Yes, I’d love to have another baby. Yes, I know how that happens. Yes, I know my hands are full, but my heart is too. The love you feel from a child is unlike any other love you will experience in your life. I wouldn’t trade that for anything in the world.