"Are these all yours? WOW! I don't know how you do it."
Neither do I, stranger. Neither do I.
I don't even have that big of a family. A fourth on the way. That is certainly on track for what constitutes a BIG family today, but I still know lots of people with more kids than me. And coincidentally, I don't know how they do it, either.
Our culture has raised us to be pretty large-family ignorant. We just don't know much about how that kind of unit functions. We know involvement in every after-school activity. We know paying for trendy clothes. We know 10-year-olds with iPhones. We know 6000 channels at the push of a button. We know 2.2 children, maybe.
Nothing is inherently wrong with those things. They just aren't usually part of the larger family language. Things change. Extracurricular activities are limited to one passion and the chaos of your own backyard with all your built-in friends (siblings). Clothes are generally handed down multiple times, even in disregard of the poor little brother in the pink, fluffy snowsuit. iPhones are replaced with the rule of never leaving the house without at least one more sibling. 6000 channels are replaced by 6000 brothers and sisters! HA.
OK, I joke in some ways, but it is only funny because it is true. Our understanding of how we do it with more than 2 kids is like a foreign language.
And I think that is one of the hardest things about raising a larger family. It isn't the cost. It isn't the chaos. It isn't the questions from everyone else.
It is the culture shock of the new language. That is why larger families seem so foreign in society. They just speak a different language. One that is pretty much indiscernible by those who have not learned it by living it. So, when you ask me how I do it, I just look at you dumbfounded. So many things about my life and my daily routine and my choices and my lifestyle are so far from what they were five years ago, and yet the changes have happened in incremental ways as more children have come. How do I answer that? I don't know.
I don't know how I do it.
I do know that sometimes I totally rock at it.
I also know that sometimes I totally fail at it.
When we say things like, "I don't know how you do it..." we are usually referencing some terrible event someone has undergone in their life that they are overcoming OR we are referencing what a miraculous and wonderful person someone is in a given job or accomplishment.
Neither of those really apply to my daily parenting. I am neither overcoming a terrible event or being some saint of a person. Believe me on that second one. For sures.
All I am doing is living life as it comes along, one child at a time. I am learning a new language everyday - one that makes me such a wildly different parent throughout my parenting years. I am quite sure my future self won't even be able to understand my current self.
And that is okay.
I don't need to know how I do it.