Friday, September 25, 2009

Lonely

So, by now most of you know I'm expecting, this time my eighth child. Reactions to the news have mostly been positive, but there have been a few negative comments and some raised eyebrows. Perhaps I'm just ultra-sensitive, ready to pick up on the least hint of negativity, or perhaps I'm just pregnant and emotional, but I've felt the hurt of it -- the feeling that others are rejecting this baby or judging me.

I've announced my pregnancy to some friends, expecting them to share my excitement and gotten instead shrugged shoulders and a change of subject. I guess I can understand it a bit; after all, I've done this before, so perhaps they think that for me, it's just become routine, like announcing we're buying a new car or going on a vacation, nothing too new or different or exciting.

But to me, this is something to be celebrated. It's exciting and wonderful and miraculous. This child is unique and special, and this is his chance to experience earth life. I believe, as it says in Job, that we were there at the foundations of the world, "when the morning stars sang together, and all the sons of God shouted for joy" (Job 38:7) This child I am welcoming was among them, and I don't think he feels short-changed in any way because his mother has given birth before. This is his time, his place, his chance, his miracle.

Sometimes I feel very lonely, especially for a mentor, for someone who has been there and understands what I'm experiencing. We have more kids than anyone I know personally (at least that's still raising them). I wish I knew lots of moms who had more children, so I could ask them my questions, pour out my heart, and learn from their experiences. Actually, I'd be happy to know just one or two! The internet, with its wonderful, connecting power, helps some, as I've made some friends through blogs and other forums.

But there's something so nourishing about an in-person friendship. A phone call, a walk, sitting together at a park or in a living room and really understanding one another. I do understand that I have a lot to learn from women whose experiences are different from my own, but it often seems that I am left on the outside of friendships with those who have fewer children, even when we're the same age. We don't get invited to dinner or to join in activities. Again, I get it; seven kids is a lot to invite over, and surely, that mom with seven is far enough along in life that she's plenty busy and doesn't need your friendship. We tend to congregate around those who are at the same stage of life as we are in. Most of the moms who live around me have two or three children, so it's natural they tend to band together and enjoy each other.

But where does that leave me? There are not an abundance of large families nearby for me to band together with! In fact, a recent article reported that according to the 2006 census, just .5 percent, or one mother in two hundred, has more than seven children. No wonder I'm beginning to feel as if I'm the only person in the world with more than six kids! I understand a lot of the reasons there aren't more large families, from the pressure to fit into the world's standards of acceptable to the very real financial, emotional, and health concerns to the pain of infertility. The fact is, even if a couple wanted to have a lot of children and eschewed birth control, many would never have eight children. A hundred years ago, there were a lot of large families of eight, ten, and even twelve or more children, yes, but there were also families of one, two, or none.

I'm really not complaining (Okay, maybe I am, a little). And I should point out that I have been blessed with good friendships. One of my best friends has six children and is the one I call or walk with when life gets just a bit too tough. Another of my best friends lives in New York, and thanks to email, our friendship has survived eleven years, through several moves, her life in Sweden and Israel, and soon-to-be thirteen births between us. Some of my other friends send me quick notes in response to my weekly emails or lift me in other ways. I am so grateful for the good people around me.

But sometimes, I feel lonely.

28 comments:

3in3mom said...

I can't say I know how you feel, but I do want to say that you will ALWAYS be my dear friend. I sure wish my body allowed me to have more children. I have struggled and have watched you enjoy the pregnancies and the sweet children you have. Please please call me/text me/email me and I would love to chat. I know 3 is not almost 8 but it's still motherhood and I'd be happy to be an ear. I have always admired your willingness to follow the commandments in regards to Motherhood and your strength in being a wonderful wife.

Lonely is a hard feeling. I know that as a 30+ there are many things I wish my life was and often feel lonely in my life circumstances--hang in there.

Luv ya, C

Norah said...

I don't acknowledge my friend's pregnancies. I know its probably considered rude but its for my mind's emotional health. I'd love to have a large family like yours but God has graced me with infertility and as such I'll be lucky if we get number 4. I don't blame God for my problems but every time I hear that another friend of mine is pregnant I get that horrible feeling and I'm depressed for months at a time. I do make a big deal out of the birth of their babies but for me, personally, when told of a pregnancy I use the length of the pregnancies to get excited for the birth of their children. I hope this makes sense. I just wonder if maybe some of the people your talking about may be trying to cope the way I have.

Christina said...

Thanks, Chalice -- you are one of my oldest and dearest friends and I'm always uplifted by our interactions.

Norah, thank you for sharing your perspective. It does make me think about things differently. Like I said, I'm probably just ultra-sensitive!

Krista & Jeff said...

I don't know you, yet in a way I feel I do. I started following your blog after a post you made on Pinching Your Pennies...I too have seven children and followed you because you have seven children. I compared notes in how we did things, etc.
After your post, I felt I must respond. I feel the same a lot of times as well. I have no multiples in my children so I have been pregnant seven times...I feel lonely a lot as well. My youngest is 2 and my oldest just turned 15 so my children are close as well. I do feel excluded from a lot of things by the number of children I have...at least that seems why. My husband is a school teacher and I stay at home...our friends "do" a lot of things that we would love to be able to do, yet are limited. I find this eliminates us not only from the activities, but a lot of the conversation later. It's hard...I wish we were closer in proximity...I've caught from various posts where you are and I live further north about 1 1/2 hours...it would be fun to trade stories etc...

Jaydee and Shaunda said...

Christina,
I haven't congratulated you yet on your pregnancy. I read about it and wanted to, but we had a neighborhood emergency that has taken all my energy and emotional strength lately. But, CONGRATULATIONS!!!
I am so happy for you and this new child that is being blessed to come to your family. I understand your feelings also. We have six children and that is the largest family I know of in our ward that is still raising children. In fact, even though we are not musical, we were asked to sing a song as a family in our upcoming Primary program. When I asked why they chose us they replied, "Because you have the most children in our Primary".
We recently moved to where we live now, and even though I have made some friends, I feel that having such a large family hinders that some. I can't just be with the mothers of toddlers because I have school age children. And I can't just be around the mothers of older children because I have an 8 month old baby also. It is difficult, but then I look at my six children and I realize it is all worth it. We are so blessed that we are able to have a large family. Good luck to you!

jaradoron said...

I'm pregnant with #'s 6 and 7 and I'm used to the negative comments and thoughts, but I'm already so different from most people in so many ways besides just having a big family that I guess I'm just used to it. I'm surprised when I find anyone with anything in common with me. It was nice to have a family with 9 children move into our ward, and there are 2 families on my son's soccer team with 7. The road less traveled is often lonely, but I'll gladly take the blessings I receive by doing what I think is best over being accepted and the "fun" I could have otherwise. Hang in there and just keep thinking about that precious newborn!! It will be wonderful although pregnancy can be rough!!

Our little family said...

Loneliness is a constant companion in my life too. For a different reason, but it's still there. If I lived closer, I'd come visit, and have you come visit, all 7 kids welcome! I love kids, I'm a large family mom at heart, but it won't happen in this life. I'm thrilled for you with this new baby! I get so excited every time a new life come to this earth. It's a beautiful, miraculous thing.

We all have days when we're ultra sensitive. I second the first comment, I may only have 3 kids, but we're all mothers, and there's a special camaraderie in that, no matter how many children you have.

You are wonderful, and this new baby will be such a joy.

Christensen Kids said...

I accidentally erased my comment. oops...
I think it is out of the "norm" to have more than 3. I ONLY have 5 (I say that with a smile because it's still a lot) but I think most people just do blow it off after number 3. I am sorry you feel that way. I know we're not close but I do look at others like you with great admiration for that woman that you are in raising 7 (soon to be 8) children with grace. I think it takes special women like you in order to raise so many and in such a loving way!
Keep up the good work and know that no matter what any one says you are always loved and never alone!

Kristen and Tyson Cramer said...

Well, I haven't had much time to get to know you since we're still pretty new in the neighborhood. I do only have one child, but he loves being around other kids, and honestly he could use the interaction. I'd really like to get to know you better as well. Let me know if you'd ever be up for an afternoon adventure either at the park or at one of our houses.

Kim said...

Christina, I only "know" you from reading your blog (found it on PYP) but I'd give you a big hug if I were closer. I think you are an AMAZING mom and each of your children are so lucky to have you. Don't let other people get you down. I admire people with big families, I wish I was more like you. I don't know completely how you feel since we only have 5, but whenever we travel a great distance from home we get some pretty good stares and comments when we pile out of our big ol' van. I just tell myself that they are jealous because they don't get as many hugs and kisses. Keep up the good work, you're great!

amybates said...

Christina, I also found you through PYP. I only have 4 boys, but my oldest is 5 and we want more, more, more! I have pulled so much strength and courage from your blog posts. I'm not at 7...or 8 yet, but I love knowing that is can be done, and done with joy. Thanks!

The Walker Family said...

I know how you feel but slightly differently, I only have one as you know but I feel like I dont relate to anyone my age, its hard and I'm really sorry you are feeling that way too. I know I'm not your age and have one kid but I would always love to get together, go on walks and talk. I cant really invite you guys over because with just the 3 of us our house is cramped :) but I would love to hang out! Are you going to do the mothers group again?

Joy For Your Journey said...

It looks like you are getting a lot of support and I think that is great. A couple thoughts. My dad was number 11 and I am so thankful they didn't stop at 10. My sister has 8 and my parents had 8 so I think "Eight is Great". We have a family in our ward with 9 (I think I introduced you to the mom when you were here.) She has two sets of twins. I love sitting by her in church. Today I was at a baptism and she had her youngest set of twins with her. The were crawling over the bench and she would reach up and bring them back without ever taking her eyes off the speaker. It was amazing to watch!!

I am sorry you feel a bit isolated but I promise every woman out there feels the same way at different times for different reasons. I know it probably won't help much right now, but you will be even more grateful for all those little people when they start leaving home. Having them gone is lonely too. :-) And then think of the wonderful family gatherings you will have!! So what I am saying is the very thing that makes you feel a bit isolated right now, will bring you joy, rejoicing and keep you from feeling lonely later in your life.

Jacki said...

{{{HUGS}}} Wish I could give you a real one... and I wish we could invite all of you over! Let me know if you're ever in the area... Congrats again on the baby!!

swedemom said...

This post was so poignant to me for many reasons. I especially loved your thoughts about the unique nature of this child that you are carrying and that birth order should not diminish the uniqueness of him nor should people stop celebrating.

I'm thrilled for you and for this baby. In some ways I think that children coming to large families are the luckiest of all. I know that my children anticipate our baby with such excitment and joy that I cannot help but feel that the baby is doubly blessed not to have just parents eager for his arrival but siblings!

I'm sorry that you've felt so lonely as you embark on this pregnancy. Truthfully,I think that you should expect people to respond differently to you than they have--especially considering where you live and being among people who believe in families. I'm sorry that hasn't been your experience.

I'm glad though that you have decided to share your experience. It's an important reminder to all of us to be more supportive and loving.

Much love to you.

rachel said...

What you are doing IS wonderful and miraculous and amazing, don't let anyone tell you otherwise! Kids are the only thing lasting in this life, besides serving God, and I would love to experience what you are experiencing- just once! You have such beautiful smiling kids, looking forward to hearing about your new baby soon.

Rachel

rachel said...

Ps, Do you find out boy or girl?

alligood said...

I loved what you said about children not caring if they come from a large family. One of Warren's cousins, who is the youngest of 12 children was once asked (by someone with a rather insulting, judgmental tone) whether he liked having so many siblings. He just looked at them with raised eyebrows and said, "well, of course I do. I am number 12......." :-)

I wish we lived close enough to get to know one another well. I have the 2nd largest family in our ward, so I do sort of understand. I still feel like I just have one or two little ones! It's surprising to me when I realize that some of the younger mom's don't really consider me a peer. They like me well enough, but I find I have to go to the effort of getting to know them, rather than the other way around!

Wendy said...

Hey Christina!!

I know I don't have nearly as many kids as you do. Well, right now you only have two more than me, but I often feel on the outside of things as well, just because I have 5!!

But the point being, that the feelings of lonliness happen upon all of us at one time or another.

My own mother had 8 children, of which I'm the oldest. And I can remember when she had my last few sisters that I got teased like crazy from the kids at school, because she was having "ANOTHER KID". I didn't know what the big deal was about till I got much older and realized that the worlds perception of a big family, often stopped at 3 kids!! To have more than that.. well you know what it's like.

I know for my mom, that it was hard while all the kids were young, and my dad did manual labor for a living, and still does, so he doesn't make a load of money. So things were really tough with that many kids, and we lived in a house signicantly smaller than what you are in.

But I know there were moments when my mom really struggled, and had a hard time keeping it together. I couldn't really understand all those moments till I became a mother myself, and now I know.

But it's too bad that we as woman have these moments where we feel lonely because of our life's circumstances. But ultimately we just need to keep doing what we know we need to do, and pray for a friend that you can connect with, and rely on for help. I know that's what I've done a few different times in my life, and sure enough I seem to find a few friends that can offer me the love and support that I need for that time in my life.

And those darn pregnancy hormones probably don't help with the feeling of being alone.

Lana said...

OH CHRISTINA!! I am so glad to hear you are normal. I thought for a moment that you were super woman sent here to this earth to show us how you do things so perfectly an positively =) You are such a great example to all of in who come in contact with you. I went through those feelings, but soon, I had to replace those feelings. Its hard to be "in the world and not OF the world". The world teaches us that things are more important than children. The world teaches us that we need others to make us feel good. The world teaches us that you are 'weird' if you do something different then what everyone else is doing. I just want to remind you that you ARE doing what you are supposed to do. Children are the most important thing to the Lord and it should be to us. Some might not show their excitement, but most likely because they dont understand fully, the happiness they bring. We need to be at a point in our lives where it is ok to be different. Afterall, we are different. Like you said, not many people have as many children as us. I do have a friend that has as many kids as me. It is great to be able to talk with her. She understands the frustration that others dont. I dont have the time to go out and hang out with girlfriends, or go out on double dates, because its hard to find babysitters, or I just dont have the time that they do. Im ok with that now. I have to realize that things will be different because I chose to be different from them. I always tease my husband and say that I would love to move to the middle of know where, where I dont feel the pressures from others to be like them. But he quickly reminds me that we need opposition to learn and grow. So.. I guess I will pass the advice on. Christina- this is your time to grow and become closer to the Lord. I realize you are already close and have a strong testimony of the gosple. I admire you for that. But hang in there. I am sure alot has to do with hormones and it will soon pass. There are those of us who are so happy for you, we just cant get there and tell you and show you =) You are a great mother, and a great example to those of us watching, and Im sure to those who have been blessed to 'physically' know you. I wish you the best in the pregnancy! Love ya!

Kacy said...

Don't overlook a great mentor because they are different from you! I received the best and most useful parenting advice from one of my best friends who had only (only?) 3 children. Surely that good advice would apply to more and/or fewer kids. Another one of my best friends has NO kids. I love her--it's so easy for us to get together! The logistics of getting together with friends who have kids is so much more complicated.

I know you are in a unique position because of your large family. I just don't want you to feel alone. The advice you give here on your blog about organizing and family outings is just as relevant to a first time mom as an 8th-time mom. And maybe a first time mom has something to offer you as well. Hang in there!

Lisa6Kids said...

Christina- I so feel you! I have felt all those feelings too. Here in California anything over 3 kids is considered insane. Having 3 kids is touted as a large family. I will never forget the day that a friend told me that a few of our friends would no longer be inviting my family because there was too many of us. It hurts, it hurts a LOT.
Just knowing I am not alone in this eases that a bit. But I am sad that you hurt too. I hope you are able to meet someone who can lend and ear and be an in person friend too.

Mommy Matters said...

I feel so bad, I haven't been to your blog in forever....I haven't been to anyone's blog in forever.

Anyway, CONGRATS!!! I had no idea you were expecting again. How exciting. Wishing you a happy and healthy 9 months!!!

I feel like an alien much of the time. People don't get it, they don't understand what having x number of kids is like. They assume SO much and most of it is WAY off. I get tired of the assumptions more than anything....we must be poor....I must be a saint....we must be rich....I must be crazy....they go on and on, and none of them are true. And when I annouce that I'm pg again I can see all of the assumptions flash across their face. I just want to be ME, with my family, and I want some understanding that I'm NORMAL. Why is it okay for other people to spend their life focused on carrer growth, income growth, a bigger house, car, boat, bank account, what ever....anything and everything in life is BETTER if it's BIGGER, right? Isn't that the message from society? Everything and everything BUT A BIGGER FAMILY??? How did kids get excluded from that bigger is better list??? I'm sure I'm way off on a rant, and I'm not going to go back and proof read this, just know that I know what you are feeling and if I was there I'd take you out to lunch - a picnic lunch at a local part with our kids...cause I may not be rich but I know how to have a good time on a budget...lol!

Meradith and Jason said...

Well you know I am thrilled as all get out about this baby! Your timing couldn't be better!:) I'm sorry you have been feeling what you have. What you talked about makes a lot of sense but I had never thought of some of it before. Truthfully there have been a few times I've thought of calling you for a walk but always think you'd be too busy! Like if anyone could just drop whatever they're doing it wouldn't be you. I'm not gonna think like that anymore. I'm calling you:) even though I have been pretty reclusive lately. I'm feeling the ms lift a bit, what about you? I hope you've been feeling better lately. I enjoy our talks so much every time we have a chance to, and loved sitting next to you at the RS conference. I love reading your blog posts, you are eloquent and thought provoking. Thanks for sharing.

Susanb said...

Thank you so much for this post. I feel so isolated sometimes and it helps to know that I am not alone in some of my feelings. I am expecting my 7th child and my friends have between 0 and 3 children. No one around me I know understands the joy and trials I go through. Being a working mom and the sole financial support of my family is difficult. It's all about finding balance. I look forward to being a new follower of your blog. Feel free to check mine out. WWW.thelifeandtimesofsusanbetke.blogspot.com

KMDuff said...

First - CONGRATS on #8! :) Very exciting!

Second - From what I can tell, there is nothing so common as feeling alone/lonely. Everyone experiences it for some reason and is sure they are missing out in some way. We feel different b/c of how many kids we have, how old we are or were when we married, where we were raised, whether or not we scrapbook/play sports/cloth diaper/homeschool...
The best thing I can do when I feel that way is go and serve someone else who might feel lonely for some reason. It's not easy sometimes to get out of the pity party but I promise you aren't alone in feeling that way! :D Choose to invite people over if you need friends and activities, someone will start reciprocating eventually! Choose to be the one to be excited when you share news and it'll rub off with others. Choose to introduce yourself first and be friendly.

Third - My favorite mentors in life have not been people like me. Usually they were unlikely candidates at first meeting - significantly older or someone I dubbed "crazy" after our first meeting. And then it turned out we became great friends and I learn alot from them.

Congrats on another beautiful baby. You are blessed!

Julene said...

Having a baby is so wonderful and congratulations. I do have to say though that I want to cry everytime I hear of someone I know is having another baby. I have 5 children and would LOVE to have more, but DH is done. He got a vasectomy and it about kills me to think of it. I don't know why I agreed to it, but I did. I do have this yearning inside me to have more children and I know we most likely won't. So maybe some friends are going through some issue where they know they won't be able to have more children. I can honestly say I am jealous of you and your family, but I am excited for you that you are having another baby. I can live through your experiences :) I enjoy reading your blog.

Megan said...

I found your blog on pyp and have stopped in to read before, but have never left a comment. I think it is wonderful you have such a large family am sorry some don't agree. I wish I could have a large family; I don't stay pregnant very well! But, I had 3 precious kids in rapid succession and it looks like #4 is gonna make it all the way! The gap is 5 years, and that has been hard for me since our others were 2 years for the first 2, then 16 months apart. I, too feel lonely sometimes, but for different reasons. I started homeschooling 2 years ago and that has made me a bit of an outcast, if you will. I guess we all kinda feel lonely, and I am sure glad you shared your feelings. We don't get invited to people's homes, either! :)

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