Friday, March 28, 2008

Where do I fit in?

I'm coming up on two years of blogging, and it's been fun to look back on where we've come.

I started out with five kids, from two to twelve. Here's a pic from that first month.

And one from this month (they grow, but they don't change that much!):My oldest became a teen that year, and my youngest was potty trained.

Here's a post that still describes much of my life (originally posted June 9, 2006):

Where do I fit in?

I stopped by the kiddie pool when I dropped my 12-year-old daughter off at her volleyball practice this morning. In between watching volleyball, I watched all the mothers, some holding infants, playing with and following their preschoolers around the pool.

It struck me how very much in the middle I am right now.

Yes, I am a mother of preschoolers. I’m sure I love my little ones as much as all those other ladies do. I have the same responsibilities as they do, to feed, care for and train my small kids. When I go to the pool, I am right there in the water making sure no one drowns, just as these mothers are.

But preschoolers are not the center of the family schedule anymore. Their needs do not drive all the activities of the family (exception: potty training time!). In fact, many of their needs (say, naps, for example) have to be carefully balanced with the activities of the older kids.

Does this make them any less important? Of course not. They add a dimension of joy and exuberance (and chaos!) to virtually every interaction in this family.

But their preschool years are a far cry from the calm, structured existence our first two children experienced. They go with the flow because they have to.

Some of the mothers of my preschoolers’ friends just don’t understand how I could let my preschoolers stay up so late or (gasp!) have less-than-perfect nutrition, to name but two of my parenting weaknesses.

And yes, I have older children. But let me tell you, there are precious few of my middle schoolers’ friends that have siblings in diapers. Very few of my eight-year-old’s friends even have younger brothers or sisters.

When I go to the pool, the mothers of my older kids’ friends are usually not even there. They have dropped their kids off in favor of running errands. If they are there, they have brought a two-inch thick, spellbinding fiction novel to keep them from falling asleep in the sun (don’t even ask me the last time I read fiction!). Either that, or they want to have a long, detailed conversation with me, while I am frantically trying to look past them, ever ready to yank my gasping two-year-old out of the water by the hair, if I have to.

So where do I fit in? Preschool mom? Middle-years mom? Tween (soon to be teen) Mom?

(Shhhh. I know what you're thinking: CRAZY mom!).

We don't think a thing of it at home, but I’ve been told that we could have “planned” a little better and had our kids closer together (oh, the things that people think are their business!).

That might have made it easier. Easier to lump my children into a nice neat group that would make my social life so much more convenient.

I was always one of those group-floaters as a teenager. Never really part of the "in" crowd but never part of the "out" crowd, either (or so was my adolescence-tinged perception). I figured that was part of growing up.

But maybe this is my lot in life: this messiness, this social in-between-ness. I'm learning to be okay with it.

Maybe I'm growing up, too.

Even though I am free of the demands and expectations of everyone, I have voluntarily become a servant to any and all in order to reach a wide range of people...

I entered their world and tried to experience things from their point of view. I've become just about every sort of servant there is in my attempts to lead those I meet into a God-saved life.

I did all this because of the Message. I didn't just want to talk about it; I wanted to be in on it!

1 Corinthians 9:19-23 (
The Message)

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

katherine,
loved it when I first read it (probably as I frantically read all your archives) and even more now. As the mom of four, aged 10, 5, 3 and 11 months....I certainly understand. I especially like how aghast my preschool mommy friends are when I'm still at baseball at 9 pm with a baby. Or when my "older" friends seem to forget how a 3 year old can't really "hold it". Anyways, they're just seasons and eventually we will all be looking back in fond memory. Right? Cheering for a quick sale and looking forward to seeing the new place.
kathryn

Terry said...

Oh, Katherine! I relate to this post entirely. It can really be chaotic at times when you have toddlers and teens. And like you, I can attest to the fact that NOT ONE of my middle school kids' friends have siblings in diapers. It's a constant juggling act! Every once in a while, the big kids' have to take a back seat. Last Friday, my little one was under the weather and had been for a couple of days. I decided she needed to see the doctor. Their only available appointment conflicted with my oldest's schedule. She had to miss her activity, and thankfully took it pretty well even though she wasn't thrilled.

And my toddler is up later than most, and we, too, are working on nutritional changes because our bad habits were pretty well entrenched when she came along. When the new baby comes in 7 weeks, things should REALLY get interesting around here!

Best wishes on the sale and move.

Terry said...

And oh, yeah, we hear the line about the gaps in our kids' ages as well. It IS amazing the things people think are their business. Though I must admit, there are days when think we might have done better to have them closer together...till I remember that God ordained each of these little lives to come when they did, and how they did. Then I see this as an opportunity for growth!

60 toes said...

I too can relate to you so much on this post.

I am going to have #4 anyday now. At home I have an 11 yr old, 9yr old and a 6 yr old.

I joked with a friend that I would be buying diapers and maxi pads for my daughters at the same time.

I can also relate to never being "In" or "out". I am probably more in the "in" crowd than not but I never fully feel like I fit in. The funny thing is we are military and move around a lot but I almost always find myself in that same position. I am glad I am not alone.

BTW, I LOVE reading your blog.

-Charlotte

Anonymous said...

i don't usually respond to any of these, but i want you to know how you have blessed me. i have 14 and 12 year old boys born in 93 and 95 and girls that are 2 and 4 born in 03 and 05. one person in walmart (that knew us quite well and know we aren't rolling in money) told me that her husband was wondering how on earth we will put them all through college. i was thinking that was the least of my worries. will's 25 on his act had already gotten him a full scholorship to our local community college. my older kids parents are the ones most judgemental. if i miss a ballgame or something, they can't understand that sometimes my little ones are just tired and can't be at everything. i love everything about your blog. i love seeing your home and all your children. looks very similar to mine...you are a BIG encouragement

Andrea said...

Oh girl, you *know* I can relate.
I love how God planned our family.
He knows best. :)
And don't 'cha think it's good your "inbetween"--it helps God fill up all those other spaces.
Happy Blogiversary....Raising Five is awesome!!!! :)
You're a *treasure*.

faithful chick said...

Sweet Post. Hope everything is going well with the sale of the house.

Anonymous said...

Katherine,
I remember reading this the first time and I loved it even better this time!
I think you fit in on the narrow road!

jenifer

Sandy said...

Love the photos - wow 2 yrs. I don't have toddlers, but I can still relate. Seems like yesterday ...

nettebini said...

Dude. We were way cool back then. Maybe not in, but very cool.

julie said...

Once again it astounds me how much our lives are similar. Great post.

Jen said...

Sometimes I feel like this with an 11 year old tween and a 2 year old toddler. But I know God has me right where I need to be and I trust that. The pictures are great.

Amie said...

i CAN TOTALLY relate to this. We currently have 6, ages 12 down to 2. So we aren't quite to the teenage craziness but we are teetering on the edge of the insaness of two different worlds. And it is a BLAST.
A lot of people don't "get" us..LOL. And I am okay with that, I too was a floater, like you. So I have had practice..;) I am here to follow God's plan for us, not man's plan. :)

We have 4 bio and have adopted two and we are about to add another to the family through adoption who will be 1 in a couple of days. You can imagine the comments we get...

and so the insanity continues, and I could not feel more blessed!!

Happy 2 years... Best wishes with the sale.
love your blog!!!!
:)
Amie

Mrs. Darling said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Mrs. Darling said...

Oops that was worded rather strange. Here's what I meant to say.

Yep I know what you're talking about. I have a daughter who is 25 a daughter 11, a son 7, a granddaughter 4, a grandaughter 4 months and another grandchild due this fall. The catch is that I babysit full time the youngest grandchild and I will the baby too. I homeschool my 11 year old. Where do the babies fit in? Im 48. Where do I fit in in with other women my age?
I think Im ready to go bonkers about now!

Ginger said...

I like to think that you're diversified!

Marian said...

You fit in right here, of course!The blogosphere is nothing if not diverse. Happy blogging anniversary!

I know just what you mean about fitting in. So many of the expectations and assumptions in our culture are geared to the woman who has 2 kids, 2 or so years apart, one brief season (7 or 8 years) and they're both school-aged, with te whole family moving into a different phase.

Our four are 3 to 11. If God blesses us with the ability to adopt again, that will likely add to the age spread. We're doing pre-school through pre-teen, our eldest with the disabilities doesn't fit in with his peers completely and so we don't either, our family has bio kids + one adopted, white + black, I'm staying home and homeschooling in a neighborhood where no one stays home, let alone homeschools...

But it's good. It's not that we should have "not fitting in" as our goal, of course-- that's just a "look at me" strategy. But, as Christians we're not supposed to look just like the world. God will call us to something different somehow, and each of us following his lead may look different from the other. At least in our slightly less comfortable position we're not so easily lulled into the rut of trying to maintain the fitting in, you know? We get into ruts of what we think is normal,too, but perhaps some of God's calls on our lives won't seem quite so shocking.
I love how you tied in the scripture.

sonja said...

Hi Katherine
I know that feeling and I think because I have lived with it for the last 9 years - it has become a part of me. I was a very young mum and a stay at home mum - my friends and sisters were still in school - my friends were studying and traveling, as I am now in university and my children are in middle school - my sisters are having babies and ready to be stay at home mums
I often feel like I do not fit - however I know God has me where he wants me and my children were planned by Him for a day such as this - so although it does not fit - it is ok.

Jennifer@DoingTheNextThing said...

I'm so glad you're in the blogsphere! Lest you ever doubt it, you are a blessing (and entertaining, LOL)
You have described my life in this post! It can be so tiring and lonely sometimes, but thanks for making me feel less alone in this journey of raising a large family with teens and tots at the same time!

nettebini said...

Happy birthday! :-)

Dimple Queen said...

Loved this post....where do we all really fit in anyway!

I've been away for a week and have a lot of catching up to do....I always love reading your posts..

I wish I lived closer to your brother too!!! I could use an adjustment!!