UPDATED: On Accidentally Having 5 Kids and an Open Call for Joy

Sometimes I get letters from readers. On Tuesday, I got one from Evan. It made me laugh. It made me cry. It moved me, Bob. And so I’m sharing it here with his permission because I like laughing and crying better when we do it together. And because Evan asks an important question at the end, one I thought our community can answer way, way better than I can answer alone.

(Also, his name’s not really Evan. I changed it and other minor details to protect his kids’ story. Otherwise, this letter’s all his. Read on…)

……….

Hiya Beth-

I’m guessing one of the biggest problems being a writer who “puts herself out there,” as you do, is the fact that you get e-mails from people who assume that they know you… or can go to you for advice… or want you to go above-and-beyond what you provide with your blog and request personal inspiration… or whatever.  How annoying that must be!

(It’s not annoying. I love getting letters. I occasionally suck at answering them, though, and I admit I sometimes shove my inbox under my bed, swear to my dad that my room’s clean, and hope desperately I don’t get found out. I’m working on it; pinky swear.)

So, Hi.  I’m here to ask for your advice.  Oh, and to request personal inspiration.

I’m Evan.  I’m a foster parent.  My partner and I got ‘the call’  last year. A baby needed a two-day placement. I figured, “Heck, I can skip the gym for two days and care for a baby.”

That was 401 days ago.

As we settled in to be parents of our little guy, we also learned he had four half-siblings placed in other foster homes.  Our caseworker mentioned it’d be great to have them all in the same home.  We said, “That would be great… but no.”

Then I met them.

Our caseworker reminded us that it’d be great to have them all in the same home.  We said, “Okay… let’s do this.”  After all, we thought, we’re both teachers.  We’re organized.  We’re patient.  If anyone can do this for these kids, it’s us.

So now we’re a family of seven.

At this point in the e-mail, things are about to turn, so I want to clarify by saying this:  We consider ourselves very lucky to have these kids in our lives.  But… well…

We’re still sorta organized.  And I’m a little less patient than I thought I was.  And I do try to remind myself that we’ve done something good for these kids.  Yet, it’s not always easy.  Sometimes I just need to hear from someone who ‘gets it.’

Now these awesome kids are free to be adopted.  And They. Are. Awesome.  My doubts and fears do NOT come from the fact that one kid makes me repeat directions 1,000 times before complying.  Or that another likes candy so much he steals it from daycare and eats it in the bathroom.

My doubts and fears come from the fact that… you know… being a parent is hard.  And the learning curve in which we find ourselves is pretty steep since we didn’t get to grow up with some of our little ones.  And that some of our little ones are relatively big.  And those bigs already have, like, personalities and stuff.  And some of those personality traits are… umm… not always awesome.

We will soon begin the process to adopt them.  And as excited as I am, I am also a little nervous.  I worry that I won’t be able to give them all the time and attention they need.  I worry that I sometimes feel like we’re running a breakfast-eating, getting-dressed, do-your-homework factory rather than a family.

And I don’t want to let the worry consume me to the point where I can’t see the joy.  

And, so I reach out to you.  Mostly, I want to thank you for your blog but I also feel like I need someone to get past the “what you’re doing for these kids is great” and get into the parts where I hear some of the joys of having five kids from someone who has five kids.

So… what can you tell me?  Besides what you’ve told me in your blog posts?  Anything?

If you can pacify me with a “Five times the sparklers on the Fourth of July!” comment… or something more… I would appreciate it.

If not, I get it.

And, if nothing else, thanks for just letting me send my thoughts ‘out there.’  (It’s very freeing)

Evan

……….

Parents Everywhere, did this part slay you?

I worry that I sometimes feel like we’re running a breakfast-eating, getting-dressed, do-your-homework factory rather than a family.

And I don’t want to let the worry consume me to the point where I can’t see the joy.  

It pierced me right in the heart. Killed me dead. Because this? Is Parenting, friends.

I fired off a quick response Tuesday night.

……….

Evan!

a) Your email was rad. I’ll respond at length later but I only have my phone with me right now which makes for a lot of PBS finger typing. (See? That was supposed to read “one finger typing.” I think I’ve made my case.)

b) You & your partner are rad. I know, I know – we’re supposed to be all “we’re not heroes” and “oh, the kids aren’t the lucky ones; we’re the lucky ones!” But can’t we just acknowledge? We’re ALL the lucky ones — us AND the kids — and hot damn we’re rad for standing up for these kids! Yes? Yes. Go, us!

c) Thank you for asking Opinionated Me for advice & inspiration. I have two teenagers, so I’ll take all the People Who Think I Know Something I can get.

d) Dude. Sparklers with 5 kids sucks. That’s 5x the sticks of potentially raging inferno or eye loss. There’s a lot I like about having 5 kids. Giant batches of cookies, for example. Excuses to never have a clean house. But sparklers aren’t one of them.

K. My PBS fonger is all worn out. (Fonger? Seriously, Spell Check? That’s not one you’re going to catch? I love you, SC, but I DO NOT GET YOU.) More soon. Give my live to your partner, too. Or my love. Either way.

Beth

Sent from my iPhone

……….

You guys, once upon a time, Greg and I accidentally had 5 kids. I mean, we can be held intentionally responsible for 3 out of the 5, but the other two crash landed in our crop field before we really knew what was happening, and it’s been a wild, wild ride and trampled corn ever since.

Now Evan and his family are joining the magic and the chaos, which is what happens sometimes when you let Love run roughshod over your Plans, and I’d sure love to gift their family with JOY.

Would you join me, friends? Whether you have 1 or 100 children, would you share just one thing about this crazy kid-life that brings you joy?

……….

UPDATE: Thank you and thank you and thank you for showing up in a big way for Not Evan, folks. You made a difference to a dad in need. A big difference. Over the last few years, I’ve come to truly, deeply trust your hearts, and it was my utter privilege to get to share you with Not Evan. He wrote a letter I’ll share with you below, but I wanted you to hear my gratitude, too. Thank you for making this place awesome. I am so proud of our Village.

Hiya Beth…
 
As much as I appreciate your blog for many, many reasons, I most-recently appreciate you using your powers for good and helping me in my moment of need.  Your village assured me, lifted my spirits, gave me hope, and helped me see myself and my family more clearly.  I owe your readers a ton.  I owe them for getting me through some bummer-thoughts I had a few days ago… and their words will give me a boost for the bummer-thoughts that lay ahead. 
 
I know the saying is ‘Joy cometh in the morning…’ but too many of my mornings seem to include the deep breathing and mental preparations of a marathon runner about to hear the starting gun.  There are kids to wake up and dishes to set and dishwashers to empty and food to prepare (i.e. pouring cereal) and work-stuff to gather and reminders shouted throughout the house… and, you know, all the other family/factory things that need to get done. Yet, amidst all the chaos, morning was also the time when I was able to steal a few moments to check-in with your blog.  The posting of my letter allowed me to gobble up everything that your readers could share.  Each person’s comment gave me a little of what I need. 
 
Life has not gotten easier.  My 8-year-old still needs directions repeated.  And just when candy-stealing has ceased, sister-insulting has increased.  There is and will always be something.  And that’s normal.  That’s the day-to-day. That’s parenting.  And that’s where you and your readers remind me to find the joy.  And, I promise, I’ll do my best.
 
Thank you.

Not Evan

ABOUT BETH WOOLSEY I'm a writer. And a mess. And mouthy, brave, and strong. I believe we all belong to each other. I believe in the long way 'round. And I believe, always, in grace in the grime and wonder in the wild of a life lived off course from what was, once, a perfectly good plan.
68 comments
  1. Just three here, all the home-made-1-at-a-time variety, but we often find ourselves in the “do your homework & pick up these dirty socks” factory…I got joy yesterday from helping #3 son with an “illustrate your book report with a LEGOs diaorama” and found myself immensly happy to be digging through the bin of LEGOs when I had like 1,000 other “urgent” things that needed doing! I later found myself getting out of my bed at 1am, searching around the house for the essential ski pass that I suddenly realized in my almost-asleep state that #2 son would need at 7am for a field trip, searching through various totes of winter clothes, searching for a flashlight (found in #3’s bed) then going through the deep, dark recesses under the back bench of our van, to no avail…but in the morning when I told #2 son that I couldn’t find his pass & he said “Oh, it’s in my left snowboard boot”, I laughed outloud at myself because all my excessive searching was not necessary. Find the joy in the ridiculous moments.

  2. This was very concise when I composed it in my head at 4:30 this morning as I sat with my little one in a steamy bathroom to clear up her congestion. Now that I’m in the middle of cooking, laundry, and family life it might be less so.

    Evan, you nailed the factory image. Yep. But I find joy as I discover more of her personality and who she is each day. For example, when she wakes up and starts roaring like a lion, when she swaddles her Froggy, or asks me if we can watch the snow outside even though it’s 4:30 in the morning. I do love those moments.

    And as for biggers who already have personalities…. As one who had a big personality as a kid, who (like Beth) discovered my parents copy of Breaking the Strong Willed Child (or something like that)… I do have some thoughts even though I don’t have older kids. (Does teaching middle school count as experience?) When I found my parents copy of this book it devastated me. I thought they didn’t love me as I was, that I had to be more of something I wasn’t for them to love me. That somehow what I was, was wrong. So, whatever frustrating personalities your biggers have, consider how that trait might be positive. A stubborn child might be someone who will stand up for what s/he believes in (which is a great characteristic) and just needs to learn when to let go to get along and when to stand strong. I just think it’s so important to help kids in the tween years figure out who they are and how to be the best person that they are…. instead of telling them (or implying) that they ought to be more like someone else. I don’t think lectures are the way to do this, but I do think that reading great books about flawed characters who don’t always make great choices… reading those books with your kids and talking about them together. Asking questions together. I do think that makes a difference.

    And I know you said you don’t need people to tell you what a hero you are blah blah blah. But I can’t help thinking of Seth Williams, who is our District Attorney here in Philly. Who was adopted from foster care. And how thankful I am to his foster parents. He is making some positive changes in a city I love. And maybe none of your children will grow up to be the DA in a major US city. But they will all have a better life because of your work.

    And I have more to share, which I will do in a private email to Beth (and she can share with you).

  3. What keeps me going, is when they say “I love you”, especially when they can’t say it with words. My 1 1/2 year old daughter said “wah woo” for the first time, but I knew what she meant because she snuggled her head into my neck and stretched her little arms around my shoulders and just hung on. That encapsulated how I feel so many days…I just hang on. I hang on to the immense love I feel for this little person, I hang on to my sanity, I hang on to my belief that there will be moments of joy, I hang on to the knowledge that I am doing the best I can, even when it doesn’t feel like it’s good enough.

    Bigger people also sometimes can’t say “I love you” with words. They have to say it in other ways. Whether that be the brief smile, the touch, the unasked-for favour. Look for love, and you will find it. It doesn’t make the hard times any easier, it just makes them worth it.

  4. What can I comment here when I’m all choked up with tears of just loving what I’m reading here Beth. You are so wonderful, so real. I only have two kids but still I feel like I’m running one of those factories.

    One of the things that brings me temporary happiness in this kid-filled life is when I get so say, “See! I told you so!” One of the things that brings me true lasting Joy is when they actually get it, and learn from from I did tell them. Seems like we all have to learn the hard way, but its the learning that counts!

  5. I have four kids. Some bio, some adopted. It is the hardest thing I’ve ever done, parenting in general, and adopting specifically. It was especially hard for the first 18 months. I met face to face with parts of myself I wish never existed. But you know what? I’d walk those hard months again in a HEARTBEAT to have my son in my life. He’s magic. He’s pure, sweet magic. He has almost every health condition known to mankind, learning disabilities, mental illness, gosh darn it, he is hard work. So much hard work. But the love I feel for him is a hard won battle that is so much sweeter because of all that work. =) My pride when he accomplishes something cannot be contained in the entire solar system. My pride in myself when I dig down deep and give him more love when I want to stomp my feet and yell? Pretty big, too.

    I have my other kids, too, with health issues and life issues and normal little kid issues, and WOAH NELLY is it a marathon! The best part of the marathon is that moment JUST after the last one falls asleep and I’m all **BLISS** another day accomplished. And they’re just so cute I almost want to wake them up again just to tell them how cute they are and how much I love them and want to squish them and kiss them and squish them some more!!! But I don’t actually wake them up THAT’S CRAZY TALK, BATMAN.

    When they share unprompted, or get a good teacher review, or the big ones kiss the little ones’ owies for them? I cry. With joy. It’s awesome.

    Parenting, and adopting, are the two hardest things I have ever done. Way harder than I ever imagined. But parenting and adopting are also the two most joy filled, rewarding, magical things I have ever done. Way better than I ever imagined it could be.

    Good luck.

    Keep your head up, and your game face on. Fake it til you make it. And always, always give yourself grace. Your kids are watching and learning how to give themSELVES grace when they make mistakes. Love yourself well so that they will learn to love themselves.

    You’re not alone.

    xo.

  6. I should be asleep, but wanted to answer this is keeping me awake. I have only one, so I know my experience is limited, still, it contains some truths (and many sentence fragments, improperly punctuated).

    I love sharing the love and pain of parenting. When your child is hurting, and you are hurting, there is an amazing intimacy in being able to turn to your partner, and not have to explain they what or the why. You’d both rather not be in pain, either of you would take more pain to spare your child, but as long as you’re in it, there is comfort in being in it together.

    It is great to be in bed together at night, and share with each other the joys of that day. The things that made you laugh, or roll your eyes. The traits of your children that remind you of each other, or of your mothers, or brothers (I don’t think it matters how you get your kids, you’ll see those hot button traits in them…)

    It is great to be able to share with grandparents, aunts and uncles, even friends with kids who’ve moved on to new stages the milestones of your children. Seeing the job your children bring to those you love, and who love you, fills the heart. Being able to see your parents as the younger people they were when you were your children’s ages, almost seeing your parents as though you were their parents. Being able to better understand the reasons they made the decisions they did, to better appreciate them. Being able to make them laugh when your children exasperate you the same way you did them.

    Seeing your children entwine as they grow, seeing what they have in common as siblings, and seeing how the ways they differ teach them about life.

    Every day, you’ll be able to look back and see the growth in you and the kids. Sometimes you’ll have to spend 5 minutes looking at pictures to draw your attention to the changes you miss when you’re with them every day, but the changes are there, and real, and meaningful. And if they’re temporary, it is only because you’re experiencing the step back for each two steps forward. You’ll move ahead again.

    Being able to watch your children as they grow into adults. You’ll see your values in fits and starts. And when they get the really important ones, you’ll beam. You’ll feel so glad to know them, not as your children, but as people in their own right.

  7. I love the title of this post. We used to tell people that before we were married, he wanted 2 kids and I wanted 4 so we compromised and had 5.

    I tell people that the best part of having 5 kids over 16 years who are so completely different from each other is that I can know that some of it is just who they are because if it was all my fault, they would all be messed up the same.

    But the joy? Ah, the joy. When you are from a larger family (I’m the oldest of 6), there is always someone else to turn to who has a connection to you. I love hearing my kids talk together as adults, discussing things and asking each others’ advice. Getting calls or notes (emails, texts) from one of my kids about a great book they read that they think I might like. The thank-you note from one for teaching them to love reading; in spite of the fact that three of my five have dyslexia and two of them were 14 before they ever read a complete book They all love a good story. Watching my son who always complained about being asked to hold his youngest sister lay on the floor with his two-year-old and read a new book; silly voices and all. There will always be bad days, but the joy, oh the joy! I could literally go on for hours telling you of my joy and pride in my kids. So worth it.

    Thanks, Beth, for giving me the reason and the impetus to dwell on these things today.

  8. I love
    ….when my 2yo son pats my face and smiles at me with blinding love.
    …when my 6yo step-son excitedly explains something that he has learned.
    …when my 17yo son apologizes for his teenage behavior in a sincere way.

  9. We have seven, one of them adopted. My favorite thing? I’m never in search of a friend to go to lunch or help me with something. Is it glamorous? No way! But as they grow, their personalities and individuality are neat to watch. And yes, they can dress anyway they want as long as they dress warmly in the winter. Who cares if they wear bright pink socks with a turquoise shirt and a blue skirt with sparkly shoes to church? It’s hard and that’s all there is to that.

  10. I love the “MOMENTS” and I don’t love the massive heavy heart my momma chest carries
    I love the victories and I struggle seeing them on some days
    but here are a few:
    My highly challenging adopted child is months into therapy work, medical support, and much prayer – and the other day he said, “I feel self control in my body mommy.” I passed out. What 8 year old says this? NOT this one. And he did. Cuz he can. and love does win sometimes.
    My 14 year old woman child is sharing her heart with me today. I said to her last night, I love being your friend. She whispered, “I love being yours too” – as she walked into her closet to change. She will change again and again. And so will I. and Love wins sometimes.
    my 16 year old son, the first born – is free. he knows his struggles with sin, and yet, he lives in no bondage to them. not every moment, but he talks about it, like that’s normal – like why don’t other people let forgiveness really be what it is? Why don’t we? cuz we sometimes forget, that love wins sometimes.
    Gloria – she glows brighter than her name. Her birth mom left her – with us. With complete strangers, her and her brother. And still, she glows. She came home one day from school and said, “I still miss my birth mommy. But i know you are my family. And i get to love you too.” This two years after being adopted, and a young 8 years old. They are twins. and they have each other. and they have us. and they do miss their birth mommy. and sometimes. love wins.
    and the last one. Davis. mohawk, long sock wearer – thinker of wierdest thoughts – the 3rd of five. the one who gave us his “rightful” place as “baby” and has loved tenaciously the adopted twins – and in loving has also had moments of anger and grief and struggle. this kid knows who he is, and he knows what life is about. not him. not us. but love. because love doesn’t just sometimes win. it always wins. even when we cannot see it. it does. LOVE DOES.

    1. tell Evan thank you for inspiring my Monday’s blog post. you too, crazy momma!

  11. Oh. I read the part about being a factory, and for a brief moment, we breathed the same weary air. I worry so much that I spend too much time mothering and not enough time mommying. I’m a mother to three chickens and a rooster, aged 6,4,2, and 1. All unplanned-but-not. And reading your letter, I realised that the Moments happen all the time. They’re so ephemeral, I almost miss them from all the factory noise. Like watching a younger child imitate (somewhat unsuccessfully) her older siblings. Or my oldest acknowledging that Mum needs coffee before we go swimming. Or the hilarity of my toddler blaming a stinky fluff fluff on her daddy. Moments when inexplicably, no one cares which colour plate they have, or complains that the chicken smells gross, or no one touches anyone else. For me, the Moments are sometimes, simply an absence of unpleasantness. And that, dear Evan-who-is-not-Evan, is also Joy.

  12. I was the oldest of five kids who did not grow up in a loving, accepting environment. Beth, thank you for redeeming the beauty in the midst of the chaos. I salute you because I know that you choose to see life this way and love your kids – and not everyone does. Your children are truly blessed!
    I only have two kids, but I wanted to say that as they are now both early teens my favorite things about being their mom are: 1) taking them around town and to ministry places and seeing the adults in their lives honor and respect their voices and opinions because they have a lifetime of serving others already speaking for them, and 2) no matter what they call me during the day or accuse me of, at night they wander out in their mostly-unconsciousness (and therefore most honest personness) and crawl into bed with me and wrap my arms around them. Usually on nights where their days have been the roughest. I thank God for that centering to our relationship. Sometimes I mess up as a mom and their hormones are tilting constantly – but God’s gracious love is ever-present in our relationship.

  13. Mother of three girls here, ages 12, 4, and 2.
    The first moment of pure joy that popped into my head was this, those completely random moments when your kid runs up to you and for no apparent reason just throws their little arms around your leg, squeezes tight, looks up and says I love you Mommom. (both of my Littles call me mommom, no idea why but it’s too cute to correct!)
    Those short, sweet little moments make all the chaos, fighting, messes, chaos, and well utter chaos of kids worth it in my book. It tells me that despite all that noise, lunacy, and frustration of being a parent Love, real God-like Love, comes through, they feel it and return it which just makes it all worth it. And it gives you a pleasant memory of the way your kid really does love you even if they think they’re to “grown” to show it. 😉

  14. I love that I get to wake up every morning to 7 happy children ready for hugs and kisses to start their days despite all of my mistakes from the night before..or day before…or week before. Take joy in those small miracles!

  15. Ahh yes, all parenting is about is the breakfast eating, homework doing, bedtime screaming machine…until it isn’t. Until we get to sit down with one child who proudly holds out a picture they made “just for you daddy (mommy, caregiver who actually gives a damn about me.) Some days it is all about just getting through that day, hell, that’s most days whether you have one or 10, but whether each moment is special doesn’t matter, it’s those children, adopted, birthed or somewhere in-between, knowing we have their backs, and they have our hearts that matters…the rest? Well it’s just logistics. Organization is over-rated, patience is preferred but not required…some days you just got “go with the flow” and know that love conquers ALL.

  16. Evan – I would hug you if I could. The most encouraging thing I can say is that you are way ahead of the curve since you already “get” that it will be painfully hard and unrewarding at times (most of the time if we are honest). So you won’t have to go through the shattered dreams stage and the where did I go wrong phase and the who can I blame phase. (You will still, however, go through the “what were we thinking” phase numerous times – sorry). The reality is that all parenting is hard. Parenting children with abuse, neglect, separation, foster care and “other” issues is even harder and more unpredictable. See? You already get that part! Good for you! You win!

    We have 3 boys. Home grown (15) with severe depression, anxiety and major school issues and 2 adopted (both as newborns) ages 10 and 7 (yes they are bio brothers and yes #3 was unplanned). When we said yes to #3 we had about 18 seconds to decide out of the blue over the phone the day he was born without knowing very much at all. I know, “they” are not supposed to do that to “us” but stuff happens. We said YES and didn’t even realize we were in shock and on a roller coaster with no seat belts until almost 6 months later when we looked in the mirror and said “who are those crazy looking people?”. Now, that tiny baby surprise is a raging 7 year old with attachment, grief and loss issues that involve expressing himself with violence, swearing and shrieking his head off – mostly at me (mom) – and often in public. You don’t really know what you are made of until you are sitting on the floor of the main isle at Target by the check-out area with a child who is thrashing around, kicking and biting you and calling you every name in the book at the top of his lungs and you hold him (well, restrain/wrestle is a more honest description) and rock back and forth whispering softly in his ear “it’s ok, you are safe, breathe sweetie, I love you, I am not going away, you are safe” while people walk by trying to figure out which one of you really needs more help.

    You can do hard. You can do THIS. You are a rock star and it will suck big time a lot and you will get “hooked” and take it all personally and have to back up and start over and detach and ask for help and demand help and try and figure out how you are going to pay for all the help you are going to need, but you keep going and there are great days and ok days and terrible days and then there are amazing moments and gifts from the gods that come out of no where, like the time my 15 year old came up to me (this is the depressed, suicidal, hunching behind shaggy bangs, won’t look at anyone child) and said “I need a hug , mom” and hugged me! To The Moon And Back we go! Wheeee! And that raging 7 year old? When he isn’t doing that, he is snuggling in my arms with a book working so hard to read that it hurts my heart and when he finally (finally!) finishes a page, he looks at me with such happiness and pride and expectation and says “I can read, mom!” Whoo Hoo!

    Ok – long rambling comment. The point is, we don’t know. There are no guarantees and you and your partner are making a decision to love each other and these children and do whatever it takes. It’s terrifying and it’s unknown and we do it anyway. It’s a decision a promise a choice and a commitment like no other. There are no “outs”, in my opinion, just the next level of decisions to love/help/support this child at this moment.

    Take advantage of respite!!!! 🙂 All the best and when in doubt, laugh and start singing – it throws them off and shifts the energy. Have fun!
    Karen

  17. Hi Evan and family,
    I would like to mention, sometimes the partners get lost in the “busy-ness” of the family cycle. I would like to encourage you to keep up with each other, we tend to text a lot, from different rooms in the house, if necessary. To check in, and be affectionate. It helps our kids feel more secure about us, as a family to see their parents love each other and be on the same team, most of the time.
    Sometimes, it’s okay to let a few expectations slip. Let the clean house go let some expectations go, this won’t last forever. Bathtime is my favorite, then comes bed, and we review what they remember of the day… usually something I totally forgot, or thought wasn’t worth remembering. They are paying attention! Imagine that! After bedtime, it’s my turn, I take an hour to read a “fun” book, or clean something that’s really bothering me, or I check in with my husband and make sure we are still on the same page.

  18. Pseudo-Evan–

    I have 5.5 kids. I had set out to have 4 with my first husband, and we did. But then we got divorced (it had nothing to do with the kids, which frankly were the only glue that kept us together, as we both adore them). Then I got remarried, to a wonderful man who was willing to move in with 4 kids, aged 4-10 (perhaps he would understand how you feel…), and has come to love them as his own.

    He and I have had one together, and are expecting again in June. _Everyone_ in our family (barring the toddler, who is unaware) is absolutely _delighted_ about our newest addition!

    It can be all too easy to get lost in the mire of everyday tasks, chores, and dramas! For a very long time, we had a dinnertime tradition: during the meal, we would go around the table, and each one of us would share with the others what our favorite part of the day was. Trying this may help you to see the joy hidden under the surface of your daily shenanigans.

    I love how whenever one of us goes out for a few hours (like my husband to work, or one of the kids to an outside class–we homeschool, so I’m with the whole gang all day, every day), when the person comes home, they get a truly joyful greeting from each person that stayed behind! Even the 16-month-old will yell “Dada!” when he sees my husband come home, and wants to be held by him and won’t allow him to put him down.

    I also really love how we work as a unit out in public, whether it is attacking the grocery store with a massive list, going to eat with the grandparents, or a day of sledding, with them cooperating, helping each other, and finding joy in their surroundings.

    In fact, seeing the world through young, innocent eyes is one of my favorite parts of parenting. What’s so cool is that the older kids (at 12 and 14, they’re sometimes beyond the point of thinking the world is amazing and magical) are now re-experiencing the world with wonder through their littlest brother.

    I hope you find the joy in your everyday surroundings, as you continue to let these little (and not so little!) people grow on you!

  19. Pseudo-Evan and Partner,
    Hang in there. I have four daughters and the youngest 2 are 1 year old twins. Life is crazy every single day and I never have enough time to spend with each kid, my house is always a mess and I’m constantly late. But my heart is full to the point where I may go into cardiac arrest, my daughters have built in best friends for life and my husband’s and my relationship has never been stronger. Yes, you will have days where you wonder where the hell the capable and organized you went and who is this pajama clad, blabbering, hot mess-but every parent has those moments, adoptive or biological. You will relish in every milestone big and small, feeling a sense of pride you didn’t know you were capable of having. You will be proud of those first steps, first words (slightly less proud perhaps when you realize the baby can say her big sister’s name so clearly because you scream it approximately 8,943 times a day-oh, wait-that’s me) and you will even be heartbroken at times too. But Pseudo Evan and Partner, this is parenting. It’s a wild and thrilling ride but it is so worth it. Best of luck to the both of you and your beautiful family.

  20. Just learned about your blog and read “Evan’s” letter. I have five kids myself and we have a wild and crazy life but I wouldn’t change a thing. My five children are the best thing that’s ever happened to us! “Evan” is also a family member of mine and I am extremely proud of what he is doing – he is an amazing man! xo

  21. As a mama to 3, I always tell my new mama friends that “parenting brings the highest highs and the lowest lows.” When you’re rocking the colicky baby at umpteenth o’clock, or the two year old just chucked his dinner onto the feeshly scrubbed floor, or your heart aches for the kid who got picked on at school, you’ll shake your head and wonder why you got into this crazy gig and how you’ll ever get out.

    But when you park the car in the driveway and leave it running so that you can sing along with the dance party in the backseat, or the 4 year old draws you a picture so you don’t miss her when you’re away, or the two year old finally says “I did it!!!”, or the baby just smiles… You’ll look at your partner and say…”THIS is why we signed up for this crazy gig, and I don’t ever want to get out.”

    Wishing you many “highs” but just enough “lows” to make you appreciate the “highs” all the more.

    Oh, and wine. Wishing you that, too. 🙂

  22. HI Evan! I am currently pregnant with #7 and two of our kids are adopted from foster care. We have done every other pregnancy as a pair with an adoption; 1 kid to 3 kids to 4 kids to 6 kids. It’s crazy and it’s definitely not always fun. But when it is fun (and it’s fun more often than not) it’s the best kind because it’s shared with so many. When we tell stories about last summer there are 8 different memories about the same event and our full family can create such a beautiful picture of our true experiences. When we go around the table at night and talk about our day it’s 8 different days with new and exciting stories from each person. I’m sure my kids will remember the times that I fell apart and did it all wrong but I think too that they will remember the mornings were they sat and built legos with a room full of siblings, or curled up under blankets to watch a movie as a family.

    We also have been blessed with two special needs kiddos. What a blessing they are just because they are here but also they have given to my typical children compassion and understanding that only comes from living with a special needs sibling. Our kids are so used to all of the wild and crazy that is our family that they can meet and engage with anyone without thinking twice.

    All of that to say that big families are hard but awesome. And adopted or not different kids are going to have different personalities and memories of your life together. So enjoy the great days, make memories every chance you get, remind your children of their first family (if appropriate) and tell them how how much you love that they came to be your family, cry in the bathroom when the days are too hard and find a community that will support you as both the parent of lots of kids and an adoptive parent. And be blessed by the quirkiness, your whole family is better for each bit of it.

  23. I’m one of four children, and now have twins of my own. Two’s enough – but my mother’s gynaecologist told her that at least with four kids there would always be one who was being nice – the more the kids, the greater the chances! All the other lovely posts on here are far more eloquent than mine, so I’ll stop at that… you guys rock!

  24. Reading that email I just felt so much awe and respect for not-Evan and his partner! So many of us would have responded to the gut feeling that 5 children wasn’t part of the plan, or made some other excuse, instead of accepting the challenges that presented themselves. I have only two children but, as others have already said, some days there’s still that “production-line” feeling, but working as a nanny till recently I’ve witnessed how much fun there is to be had in having more children around, and how much the children all learn from being around each other. (Although seriously I admire you parents of bigger families!) What brings me joy about my girls is their personalities: that they can be so different even though they have the same parents, the elder is serious and studious and very placid, the younger wears her heart on her sleeve and is all extremes, either squealing with laughter or screaming with rage (exhausting but delightful!). I took a lot of pleasure in seeing them learn to talk and all the adorable mistakes they made. I love their completely innocent, uninformed point of view on life and the conviction with which they hold it. I love most of all that they really do forgive me when I make mistakes and that they understand so much more of what’s going on in my head than I give them credit for. All the best to you, not-Evan, may God give you all the wisdom and energy you require.

  25. I don’t have five kids, but I have three boys (the oldest is 6) and a fourth on the way. And my husband works nights. So i understand just how hard it is to hang on to the joy in the middle of the busy.
    One of the best things, for me, is how different my children are from each other. They’re all my biological children, but still so different in some ways. They see the world in different ways. I have to enjoy this on purpose–I actually keep lists of things i like about each member of my family, to reread and add to when I feel fed up with that one. (I need to look at the 4yo’s list, come to think of it.) And with more kids there’s always something new–always some new skill or development to enjoy. Always new artwork, new stories (although right now they’re all about Angry Birds). They are better than I am at things, sometimes.
    Good luck to you, “Evan,” and thank you for the reminder to look for the joy. I totally needed it. 🙂

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.