22 kids! How does anyone even do that?!

Jay's Family Picture“Yes, I did say that I have 22 children”, is the answer to the question I get after answering the standard question of “how many kids do you have?”  But I certainly did not plan my life to look this way. There are the rare few who do like the Duggars, but I was not one of them. In fact, I always said that I would have 2-3 children, 4 at the very most, but no more.

I got married the year I turned 23 and didn’t give birth to my 1st child until the year I turned 26, and my 2nd child didn’t come until 5 years later, so the fact that by the age of 33 I had 9 children is pretty amazing, even to me. Sometimes I wonder if I am out of touch of my own reality because when I hear that someone has 14 kids I think that is a lot of kids. The 1st house my husband Jay and I bought together, we sold to a family that had 14 children  and were growing and then I wondered what kind of person she was and could I ever relate to someone like her. Now I am in those shoes and often wonder if people wonder that about me.

When people find out that I have 22 children, they look at me differently then they did when they first met me. Sometimes I will tell my friends not to tell people for a while because I want to get to know them as they normally are and not how their ways of being around me changes when they find out. Sometimes, and even often, I will catch people, mostly women, but some men too, just staring at me. Like they are trying to make sense of it all in their heads.

I didn’t get much support from my family as ours was growing, so it took a lot of learning  to get it right. We have made many mistakes along the way, but I have to say that all of the credit goes to God for all of the help He has lent us. So many times things would come to my mind to handle a particular child that did not come from my own thoughts. One of those times that comes to mind was when we lived in Colorado Springs, Colorado and was with one of my older girls and she was making some poor choices behind our backs that we found out about. I didn’t know what to do to get through to this girl because I just knew she was in way over her head and if I didn’t get through to her immediately, she could very easily make some choices that could cause her some life long regrets. I called her to our room where we sat her down to talk to her. She was very stubborn and resistant to anything we had to say to her and I could tell she was a closed book at this point. What I did still surprises me to this day. It did not come from me because no where in my mind could what I did and said make the change in her that it did. As we sat there in silence, the thoughts of what I was to do and say next just came into my mind and I knew everything I should say and do from that point forward.

I was raised in a spiritual home where we prayed a lot and knew what it felt like to receive answers to prayers, and believe you me, I was saying a silent prayer the whole time I was in that room. I told her since she was mature enough to make adult decisions like she was that she could just move out and be an adult. If she was so mature and making such mature decisions for her life in secret that she no longer had to live in secret and could have all of the privileges and responsibilities that came with adulthood. If she didn’t need me and my advise anymore then she was welcome to live her life on her own. After all she had just turned 18 and legally could do all she wanted. But she was not prepared for the world yet and enjoyed living at home, and most of the time she loved being there. But like any young adult she wanted to spread her wings and choose for herself. I told her there was nothing wrong with her choosing for herself, but if she had to hide it then it didn’t feel very adult and since she didn’t need our rules anymore, she could live on her own from now on and just go on her way. I was very matter of fact about it and actually very cold and distant too. I felt strongly that this was the place I needed to come from, although I didn’t understand why I needed to do this. At one point when she left the room to go get something, Jay whispered to me asking why I was being so cold, since we don’t normally operate like this, and I told him I knew what I was doing and he trusted that. Well my daughter did not like this at all. In fact she threw an all out emotional fit! She said that I can’t do this to her because I was her mother and she can’t live without her mother in her life and so on. I just stayed distant, feeling guided that this is the place I was to come from. By the end of the conversation her heart had softened and she just melted in my arms. At which point I melted right back. I had absolutely ZERO idea of why I needed to do this. I did not know that this would waken her to the importance of our relationship, and in fact that was the turning point in our relationship for the good and we have been extremely tight and the love between us is beautiful. I’m telling you that I had no idea in my head anywhere that this would waken her heart to the love she needed to realize she had for me. She has told me several times since that this was the turning point for her in her life. This was when she came alive. She was raised by an emotionally void bio-mother who was emotionally abusive to her in many ways so she turned her heart off early as to survive the neglect and pain. This incidence happened 6 or 7 years after coming to live with us. To this day she and I are so very close and I can’t imagine a life without her sweet spirit in it. She is a blessing to me and has taught me so much about kindness and gentleness and love.

I’m tellin’ ya that it is through having kids that I really woke up to life and learned what loving someone really is. I have learned so much and have so much to learn and am grateful for it all. It is at times like these that I realize that we are not doing this alone at all. These are God’s children that He expects us to take care of for Him and if I will listen He will give me what I need to help them. I certainly did not expect to get it in forms like this, but he knew her heart and what would get through to her at that point and I just followed it. I didn’t realize this was going to set us on a path for so much more in our relationship and neither did she or Jay. So when I tell people the reason we are able to raise all of these children, when it is so unfathomable to them, that we do not do it alone, it is because quite literally we do NOT do it alone! I have tested this out on many levels to see and understand to what degree He will help us. I have found it is all the way down to the little things. He wants us to be happy. It is just a matter if we trust that He will do it and then let it come. I’m sorry if this is too preachy for some of you. Just my thoughts and feelings and I am awful grateful I am not left to my own devices to do this on my own because I don’t have the training. But I have found the love and hope that that is enough for now.

2 Responses to “22 kids! How does anyone even do that?!

  • Great Post, love getting to know you better. Love the blog!!!

    • Thank-you Christine. I am still new to this, but getting the hang of it more and more. Just creating the habit is what I am working on. Lots to share. Learning how to share it in a way that is real for me and what is going on in my life. Thank you for your feedback. Much appreciated friend.

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