* What are the chances that I get sick the same week I have seven dentist appointments, playgroup at my house (canceled it), an ultrasound, five parent-teacher conferences, early-out days at school, and my husband's gone for four days? When I went to get pizza last night for dinner (it's called coping!) the lady asked, "Are you having a party?" Nope, just eight kids and (almost) enough pizza to last for two meals!
* I'm really, really, really excited to have another girl. Really. I wasn't secretly hoping for a boy at all, though I'm still pretty sure there will be a boy joining us sometime in the future. We think her name will be Camilla Eowyn (DH's first choice for middle name!), and I think our family is so blessed to have so many girls in a row. We have two boys, and they're blessed to be close together, just 18 months apart and a year apart in school, and when I said I'd be happy with either gender, I really meant it.
* It's interesting how people tend to get the challenges and trials that are the hardest for them to deal with. It reminds me of this quote: Since personal growth is an intended outcome of these challenges, it should come as no surprise that the trials can be very personal—almost laser guided to our particular needs or weaknesses. I was talking with a friend last night about the dangers of comparing our trials -- "You can't understand this because I have more kids" or "Why is this thing so hard for me when so-and-so does it beautifully?"
Sometimes we are less than compassionate with people who struggle with things we are strong in. The example I shared was when I read a book about a woman who gave birth to a son with Down Syndrome. She was devastated for a long time by the diagnosis, angry and frustrated. As I read, I found myself really bothered by her attitude and unsympathetic to her difficulties adjusting to the news. I realized later, however, that in large part that was because I taught special education. I had experience and understanding of the diagnosis and if such a thing were to happen to me, it would likely not be devastating. However, to this woman, who had never even talked to a person with Down Syndrome, the trial was overwhelming. It was one of those "laser guided" trials that shook her to the core. In the same way, I've had trials that have brought me low that might be no big deal to someone with different experience and talents.
* A related thought is that just because someone has more kids or seemingly bigger trials than another doesn't mean there is no way for them to relate and sympathize with one another. When training for a marathon, the person running her first seven-miler has a lot in common with one who is running their first eighteen-miler. Just because one has run more miles than another does not make that experience harder for them to bear. (In fact, I was more sore and exhausted after my first seven-miler than I was the eighteen). Both of them are stretching their muscles to the limits of what they can endure. Both of them are attempting something difficult, and both will gain and grow from that experience. They are both runners working on building their endurance, and that should allow them to unite over their common experiences rather than quibble over whose experience is more difficult.
I've said this before, but people often say things like, "Wow, I can't imagine eight kids! I'm having a tough time with my (two, three, five) kids." I often respond, "Well, it was hard for me when I had (two, three, five) kids, too." We may be at different stages in our motherhood "training" but that doesn't mean we don't have a lot in common. (And once again, NO, after three, it's not all the same anyway. Each child is a sacrifice, a challenge, and a blessing)
* Fall at our house means there's more critters for my girls to catch. I'm not too fond of the snakes, and we still have our "two days and then you let them go" rule in regards to the critters, but I do enjoy seeing some of the lovely things these girls find, including dragonflies!
* Tomorrow and Sunday is General Conference, where in our Church we get to hear from the leaders we sustain as modern prophets (prophets, yes, just like the ones in the Old and New Testament). Last Saturday was a special session for the women of the Church, and there were some amazingly tender talks. My favorite had to be this one, with gems like this:
I love how many posts have gone up on various blogs about preparing for conference, with ideas for helping children participate and learn. Here are a few posts I've found that summarize some of the great resources out there to prepare:
Dear sisters, many of you are endlessly compassionate and patient with the weaknesses of others. Please remember also to be compassionate and patient with yourself.
In the meantime, be thankful for all the small successes in your home, your family relationships, your education and livelihood, your Church participation and personal improvement. Like the forget-me-nots, these successes may seem tiny to you and they may go unnoticed by others, but God notices them and they are not small to Him. If you consider success to be only the most perfect rose or dazzling orchid, you may miss some of life’s sweetest experiences.