Friday, September 12, 2008
Exhausted With Eight: Enough Already!
Submitted for publication by Misty
I am a mom. I am a mom of a lot of children. I have seven of them. Part of my initial draw to the show J&K plus 8 was the fact that I thought "here it is - another mom in my shoes!" Another mom who was trying to fit 30 hours worth of life into 24. A mom who was trying to treat each child special, as though he/she were the only one, and not "punish" the children because they were born into a large family. A mom who cut coupons and took a calculator to the store so she wouldn't go over budget. A mom who was doing it all to be a SAHM, sacrificing some of the finer things so that her kids could have an upbringing that was important, one where the mom was home preparing meals, thinking up crafts, trying to chase away the "rainy day blues" while still getting all the grown up stuff done for the day. Kate was me. In the beginning.
Then I started seeing the behaviors, those infamous behaviors, the belittling of the husband, the favoritism of the girls, the hollering in public. Then I began noticing the "stuff." Trips here, spa days there. I was caught when Kate, all robed up in her plush bathrobe with her toe nails drying and a glass of champagne in her hands while sitting in a massage chair remarked "it's worth it, it makes you a better mommy, it is expensive." And then they went to Disney. We took two of our seven to Disney because my parents lived a half hour from Orlando. It took us a year to save and my parents footed 90% of the bill (we are from California. We drove also.) The Utah trip... I could not believe the house they were staying in. All the jackets, snow suits, hats, mittens. I noticed her buying half a beef, my grandfather raises beef and I still cannot afford to even buy a quarter of beef from him. Little things added together make big things. I suddenly realized, Kate is not me.
I am a SAHM mom - this was a choice my husband and I made when we started having kids. (My hats off to those of you who work - I couldn't do both!!) My husband and I do not have kids we cannot afford. We do not have kids that we expect other people to raise for us, we do not have kids so that we can get handouts, we do not have kids so that we can get notoriety. We have kids because we love them and have chosen to have a large family. One of our children is severely handicapped. He is thirteen years old and still in diapers. I have a 5 month old. One of our boys is graduating this year, and we are wondering where his college fund is, our state did not set one up for him when he was born. Nope, believe it or not, a family of nine STILL has to *gasp* pay for the kids to go to college. What will we do? Beg for handouts? Send an email to our family and friends letting them know the proper account to funnel money into to help us? Remark that our savings (ha!) should not have to be used to pay for our own children's upbringing? No. What we will do is what countless other Americans do every day of every month of every year. We will work it out.
We Christmas shop all year. I buy all their winter clothes at the beginning of summer when they are all on clearance. I buy all their summer clothes at the beginning of winter to get the good deals. My wrapping paper for this year will all be from the close out sales of after Christmas last year. I don't have strangers sending me gifts for my kids, and the Gosselins are millionaires for heaven's sakes. They are getting a free Christmas and they make more money per episode than my husband makes in a year. What is wrong with this picture?
I get up everyday and face my life, the life that I have chosen. I get six children ready for school with one hand while nursing my infant with the other. I even make my own coffee. I drive, imagine this, hither, thither, and yon, with an infant, doing all of my own errands, while my school aged kids are at school so that when they are home I am with them. I do laundry for a family of nine by. my. self. Mind you, that includes three baseball players, one basketball player, one softball player, several flag football players, an infant, and a handicapped child who still pees and poos himself. I wash it, dry it, fold it, iron it, and put it all away. I have one less child than Kate. If I'm measuring myself against all the laundry help she has, I must have super powers!!!
Did I mention that my wonderful, helpful, kind, patient, loving husband has a job which requires travel approximately 80% of the time? He flies out Monday morning and flies in Friday night. He is home every weekend, just enough time for him to play with our kids and destroy my house and yard, leaving a trail of destruction the likes of which the Tasmanian Devil would be jealous. And do you know what I do while they are doing it? Play along! Encourage! The mess will get taken care of! By who? A slew of helpers? No. Just little ole me, with a baby tied to me in a Moby Wrap or a Bjorn carrier, going back through the house that I just cleaned and doing it all over again because my kids got to make memories over the weekend. I don't get to have a husband who stays home with me. I don't even get to have a husband who helps me shuttle kids to school, practice, friends houses. I get to juggle all the Back To School Nights and Open Houses and Parent Teacher Conferences alone, because my husband had to take the best job with the best medical insurance and the most pay. Because see, we do it alone.
I am living, breathing, sometimes tired, proof that it can be done. And it can be done with love and grace. It can be done with a smile and a good attitude. It can be done without yelling, losing control, mental breakdowns, and ugliness. It can be done without freebies and handouts. I will say that I have the luxury of having a cleaning service come through once per month to clean my bathrooms, because let's face it, I just can't get it all! I get a nice massage gift certificate for Christmas every year from my in- laws. But I save religiously for vacations, which we take the children on once a year two kids at a time. We save for school shopping all year long. We Christmas shop, as I said, all year long (from the clearance rack).
The real kicker of it all is, I am not that tired at the end of the day! I still manage to have a smile on my face at the dinner table. Don't get me wrong, there are days, OH yes! There are days, when I just want to get in my car and keep on going. When the laundry has piled up and the dishes are starting to emanate some weird smell from my sink, when the fridge is looking a bit bare and I am doing dinners from a box until the next paycheck. But I do it. WE do it. And I don't feel like a martyr for it, I don't feel that I am entitled to anyone's help, and in fact I turn down help a lot of the times because let's face it - this is MY life!!! I WANT to be with my kids and do things for them. When my head hits the pillow, I want to be remembering all the same things my kids are remembering as they fall asleep, all the things we did together. I don't want someone else helping my kids with their homework, that is my job. It is my honor.
Let me not fail to mention that since all of our kids were in school, when our next to youngest went to Kindergarten, I went back to school. I raised six kids and got a Bachelors Degree in four years (that's a full time college student to those keeping track at home.) When I graduated in December of '07 I was six months pregnant. Just in time to be able to stay home and start over. So it is not that I stay home because I have to, because I am uneducated, because I cannot work. It is a choice, just as it is a choice for Kate. I just don't believe we should complain so very much about things we choose to do (such as quitting her job while having six children in addition to the two she already had during a time of unemployment for the bread winner of the household). The show is obviously more than taking care of their monetary needs, but is there such a need to flaunt it in our faces? Such a need to show it all off? Such a need to complain so, so much?
I just don't know how many more gigantic beach houses, huge ski mansions, Disney World, Hawaii, theme park, shopping carts full of equipment crap I can watch! And it is not that I am jealous - I'm not. We, for the most part, are comfortable. My kids, for the most part, do not want for much. But I budget religiously, I save, I pay for everything we ever get, and I miss that Kate. The Kate who was showing me and many other moms how it can be done, how what we were doing was possible. Now I just see her and her family as another rich TV family and I simply cannot relate anymore. And then to hear on the one hand how many helpers she has day in and day out, yet watch her complain in every. single. episode. how exhausted she is, well, it is exhausting!
So to those of you who want to excuse her behavior because she has EIGHT KIDS (!!!!!!!) - it doesn't work. It just simply does not work. It isn't that difficult. It is doable, it is very doable, and it is doable without helpers and freebies and millions of dollars. It is doable without having a completely crappy attitude about it. It is doable without being exhausted, grouchy, and out of control. And while I realize she has six who are the same age, mine are 17, 14, 13, 12, 11, 10, and our baby 5 months. Those five in the middle are one right after the other. I didn't have time to catch my breath!!!
Thanks for reading! Lovin My Seven in California
Posted by Nina Bell at 4:32 PM