Last night at Benediction, I had to take the three year old to the back because she was just not into being there. After standing with her for a bit, I saw my seven year old walking up the aisle, carrying the one year old. And my heart melted.
I have long watched the big families in our parish juggle there little ones, passing the smallest off the the biggest while mom or dad deal with a toddler. I love to see the big kids carrying their smallest sibbling up to Communion or over the the Creche at Christmastime. And all of a sudden, last night, I realized -- here we are. A big(ish) family with big(ish) kids helping us with the little ones.
It's strange to me, too, because as of late, I have been approached multiple times with comments such as "Wow! You have real kids!" (as opposed to just babies) or "What's it like to be out of the 'all toddlers and babies' stage?" and even "So, tell me what it's like to have a whole bunch of kids . . . I have always wanted a large family, but I get so over-whelmed with my three!"
Generally, what I want to say is "What?? I don't know what I am doing! Maybe insanity has blinded me to reality? Whose kids are these anyway??"
But I don't. 'Cause then they'd just check me in.
What I do say is "It does get easier!" Those wild toddlers get bigger and have moments of clarity in which they really do pitch in and lend a hand. They learn to converse and discuss and truly bring a level of maturity into your days of diaper changing and toddler pacifying. It's amazing, really, to watch those chubby toddlers grow into real little people.
I am not trying to imply that I have the slightest notion as to the how of raising real little people (because I don't. I'm winging it here!). But I do know that toddlers grow into "real" children and "real" children are great! And "real children" love toddlers and babies. They can learn a great deal from them, too. So to those questioning, over-whelmed mamas, I say carry on. In the throws of three-under-four days, it is tough, but the rewards of having more is worth every moment in the trenches.
And really, it does get easier.