Running errands with all four boys, it’s guaranteed at some point I’ll answer a stranger’s comment with, “Yes, they are all mine” and “Yes, they are all boys.” Depending on that individual’s worldview, the conversation could turn positive or negative — we are either blessed or cursed because of all the boys. (Did y’all know that in most countries, excluding America, having all sons is like hitting the jackpot?)
Whether I have all boys or not, being out in public with four children and one adult lends itself to the possibility that something nutso will occur. A child will most likely get hurt. There will be crying (mine or theirs). A fight could break out in the middle of the chip aisle over which high cholesterol bag they will badger me to buy.
I throw a mini-celebration when we successfully go into and out of store/restaurant/home/neighborhood block party without drawing lots of gawks and comments.
To fly below the radar has become my goal.
(Ironic since in high school and college I worked hard to draw lots of attention — I guess the kind of attention I was after back then was more attention for cuteness or talent or hilarity. The kind of attention our Mac clan draws tends to be due to our loudness or physical energy or embarrassing behaviors.)
Lately I’ve read several articles online and decided it’s time to embrace and love our little freak show.
My arrival at this conclusion came partly from reading Matt Walsh’s post “Dear Parents, You need to control your kids. Sincerely, Non-parents,” which is awesome.
I found Matt’s article especially relevant since I got the “control your kids” comment when our freak show went on tour at a birthday party last week. My super sweet friend invited our entire family to a precious rainbow-themed swimming party. Fortunately, none of my sons caused anyone to cry, and there were no brother WWF moments . . . for the first hour of the party.
Unfortunately, since my boys struggle in the “sugar self control” area, they could not resist the adorable display of skittles and starbursts (which my friend had carefully separated by color and placed in tall fluted glasses along the table . . . in a rainbow pattern). Despite my frequent request for “only one more piece,” a son, who shall not be named, decided to view my request as a suggestion and covered his pizza with skittles. Yeah.
Only 20 minutes away from successfully attending a birthday party without a major incident, my candy “cray cray” son opened up the collar of his shirt and threw up down his chest. For reals.
Of course, it was a group of dads who witnessed the event (moms would have asked if he was okay and how they could help . . . these dads turned a pale green color and backed away from the crime scene). Then one dad had the audacity to comment, “Can’t you control your kids?” I knew he was joking, but I kinda wanted to punch him in the face.
My numero uno personal struggle is wanting everyone to like me and think I’m doing a good job. The opinion of others controls me so I feel the pressure to control my little people. But there is no earthly way I can control and watch over four boys in a public place. Which causes me some internal toil.
The reality is we are “live big,” “laugh loud,” “talk a lot” kind of people (I’m a speech-language pathologist for heaven’s sake . . . I have ways of making you talk). It’s about time I acknowledge and love our family for who we are and stop trying to change us into the quiet, calm folk. We obviously aren’t them (well, except for when all kids are glued to the T.V. and even then we have a hard time keeping our thoughts to ourselves).
That’s why I loved Jen Hatmaker’s post “Hope for Spicy Families.” She owned it. She claimed it. They are a saucy, spicy bunch. End of story.
My encouragement to you is to love what you have — to accept the craziness as a gift. I’m sure for every moment I wish our family to be quiet and calm, there is a mom hoping for a little spunk and fun. Deep down we all know the truth: God created you to be you, and He gave you your specific children because He knew you were a perfect match (even if the constant struggle humbles you daily).
What kind of family do you have?
Wall-flower or Freak Show?
Do you struggle with accepting your people?
Heather has been married for 14 years and is the mother of 4 young boys (born exactly, to the day, within 6 1/2 years . . . just like she’d always planned). In her “free time,” Heather writes for her blog, God Centered Mom. Motherhood is hard. Having four boys in such a short period of time is downright ridiculous. The needs are great. The sacrifices are many. Because of all the comforts and conveniences given up being a mom, moms cling to our rights — stubbornly demanding to remain at the center of our lives.
On a daily basis, mothering four boys reveals self-centeredness. All Heather’s “issues” boil down to one heart condition: pride. Like Spurgeon said, “You can either chose to be humble, or be humbled.” Motherhood is more about the change in her than in her boys. In order to become truly humble she must replace “me” with “He,” looking for His will for her days. Heather’s blog chronicles the messy journey of “relentlessly replacing ‘me’ with ‘He'” — sharing the daily struggle of remaining God-centered while mothering four wild-at-heart, energetic, and often stubborn boys. You can also find her sharing thoughts on growing godly men over at The MOB Society.