“My best friend growing up, Keri, was supposed to be the ‘mom’ with a gazillion kids living the dream life of a stay-at-home mom. Keri moved in next door to me and we were pretty much inseparable since the age of 5. When we parted ways during our college years, I thought for sure SHE would be the one to settle down and pop out babies till her heart’s content.
Me, on the other hand, nope. Maybe I’ll have three kids since it was a mundane existence growing up with my older brother who didn’t like that I existed. I mean, that’s what I thought when he hung me over the backyard deck by my ankles and my mom’s only reaction was, ‘Don’t drop her.’
Yeah, three would be good.
I didn’t have the fairy tale boy meets girl, they fall in love, get married, and have their first child with a complete nursery set all ready to go. Plain and simple, I got knocked up by a boy I had known for only six months.
A few months later, Jeff (the dad) offered me a ring of marriage.
OK, sounds like fun. The ring WAS gorgeous after all! Just 10 fast and furious months after our first son was born, we were expecting baby number 2. I felt trapped. I was 20 years old and on my 21st birthday, I conceived our daughter. I had moved out of my house for only a year before I was tied down to a husband, a newborn son, and now another child on the way.
I didn’t have heart-warming moments. I had anger. I had a resentful heart that was beating contempt for this life that was supposed to be my best friend’s. SHE wanted kids right away, not me. I had no career to start, no life to begin – only life taken from me. No…motherhood was not heartwarming…it was suffocating.
After my daughter was born, it became a little easier as this new child in my life gave me another and better perspective on motherhood. I now had a boy and a girl. They were close in age and really, that’s what I wanted…at least one more.
33 months later, baby number 3 came along. Another boy! I was starting to feel like life was piecing itself together until my husband and I had a destructive event that nearly cost us our marriage. In our reconciliation attempts, we conceived baby number 4…just 10 months after baby boy number 3.
I’m 26 years old with 4 children 6 and under. Not only do I feel the aching cocktail of anger and bitterness being served up every day, but my husband also lends ZERO support to my needs that I failed to communicate. Looking hindsight, I definitely see that now. I’m not only trapped with four kids…deep down I’m finding it extremely harder and harder to like them. You read that correctly…I was a bitter, lonely mother who didn’t like her kids. I took care of them, nourished them, and resented them all in a day’s work and my Spirit was crying out in agony because of it.
It was crying in anguish and torment so bad I had to surrender my ‘suffering.’ So, what did I do? Volunteer as a Game Director for Awanas. Yeah, surprised I’m not in jail for going all postal on the kids, aren’t you? It’s horrible enough I was struggling to like my kids, now I’m in charge of other children – and to have FUN with them!?!
Talk about the oxymoron of my life. But that’s what God and His Spirit told me to do and I was desperate to find myself, so I did it. Within a few short weeks, the exterior, solid core wall surrounding my bitter heart liquefied like the silver mercury in old-time thermometers the moment a little girl ran back to me (they were leaving for Bible class), hugged my leg, and looked up and said, ‘Auntie Andi, you’re the best, I love you.’
She had me at ‘Auntie…’
After that moment, I never looked at my children the same. I SAW them. I saw their long, lush curly eyelashes. I smelled their hair for fun. I held them for their comfort and my connection to them. I not only liked them…I finally WANTED them.
It took the love of someone else’s child to teach me how to fully love, like, and unselfishly be a mom to my own.
Once we discovered we were having baby number 5 (and I’ll explain in a moment why we were at this stage in our life and haven’t yet ‘cut the tubes’ despite all our marital issues going on simultaneously), and I wanted him, we decided on a home-birth. I was having my child, my way. Our 5th child was born into my arms, in my home, in a water-birthing pool and I wanted him! The euphoria of his birth and the connection I had with my husband profoundly changed how I began to mother and helped me find myself in the midst of motherhood.
My husband ‘confessed’ he robbed me of my youth and self-discovery feels responsible (somewhat, I am still my own person) for the internal struggles I was silently living with. I said to him after baby number 4, ‘I will probably resent you if you had a vasectomy because I don’t know if I want to be done.’
Now, you’re thinking…wait. WHY would you want more if you didn’t even like your kids? Well, I didn’t KNOW I didn’t like them at that time I made the comment…I was having many internal issues and didn’t know how to process them.
Jeff passively gave up trying to talk to me (which was really a feat in and of itself). So, we’d have unprotected sex (he hated condoms, I hated artificial hormones that may cause a miscarriage) and what happened, happened. After baby number 5, get this…Jeff and I DID plan baby number 6. Looking back, unplanned, our first 5 children are as follows:
Baby 1 and 2 – 19 months apart
33 month gap
Baby 3 and 4 – 19 months apart
33 month gap
Thus, baby number 6 was born…you got it, 19 months after his brother, a baby boy. We now have 1 girl and 5 boys.
We thought we were done. After 10 years and on Christmas Day…our 7th baby was born in our German home with a German midwife. Jeff started re-thinking God’s plan for our marriage, our kids, our family. Before her birth, we were offered a 15-passenger van for pennies on the dollar. We ‘upgraded’ our family and Jeff’s response, ‘Now we can fit more kids in here,’ and he said it with a smile.
We conceived number 8 and coined her our ‘Marital Bliss Baby.’ The moment he found out I was pregnant, he had tears in his eyes, told ‘us’ congratulations, and held me tight. He had never ever been so at peace about having a baby. Without restraint, without resentment, anger, bitterness, or worry, we had babies 9 and then 10.
I broke my ankle 3 months pregnant with baby number 10 and went from active gym-rat to bed-ridden gimp. His birth (the tipping scale of boys to girls) was the hardest. I was weak, tired, and took a full 2 weeks before fully being mobile again.
That scared my hubby a bit. And…he said he’s tired, he feels old!
Throughout the years, I’ve been ridiculed for breastfeeding too long, not doing enough for them, and some have blatantly said…Stop having kids, it’s too much.
During my struggles as a young mom and hearing I wasn’t good enough, how I didn’t do enough for them (and I knew something was wrong when discovering I didn’t even like them), pushed me back and as an introvert whose love language is Words of Affirmation, it tore me down. People think they’re helping and offering some advice to ‘help you become a better mom,’ but it really doesn’t help.
Offering up unsolicited advice never seems to help. So much judgment over the years caused me to become insecure when building an online business and many of them tanked. I let those comments get to me. I spent more time figuring out ‘how to be there with them or sit with them more’ than to just be their mom. People don’t understand that families of 4 DO NOT operate like families of 12. A lot of criticism came from me ‘not doing enough’ because the kids would do dishes on certain days or I’d have older kids watch the younger ones so I could nap during a migraine.
That was seen as ‘she’s not there for them, they’re not responsible for the littles – she is and if she can’t do it, then why do you have all these kids.’
Most of the time, people are simply curious. I’m a petite woman, I’ve never been overweight, so curious people. I don’t mind. They ask if they are all mine…like coming out of my body, and that’s funny, really, people’s reactions – I truly have fun with it. Then they ask…how do you do it. Well, I don’t do it…WE do it together. We’re a unit and we are individuals within the family unit that have their own part and their own person to be responsible for.
I want to be happy. I want my children to be happy. We live life around Jesus Christ, integrity, and selflessness but NOT to the point of violating our personal boundaries (i.e.. Mom and dad time alone – kids can watch a movie by themselves sometimes).
I may not have been 24 years old when I discovered who I was without kids or Jeff, but I did do it. I was 34 years old and it took a mom-to-be-years-later to tell me, ‘You don’t have to hide behind your kids, they don’t define you.’
It didn’t fully register at that moment, but her words were the ‘permission’ statement to who I would later become…me.
I love my large family – even though I’m an introvert and become mentally exhausted after 6+ hours with people, these kids make me laugh every. Single. Day. There are 10 unique personalities, 10 human beings I get to be intimately connected to. It’s been interesting, to say the least – they try to guess my ‘favorite’ kid because I once told them (somewhat jokingly) I had a favorite, Meaning, their personality was incredibly unique and interesting. So, now there’s the ‘joke’ of who it is and if someone happens to get an extra treat or privilege, they yell…’HA! See, YOU’RE the favorite kid!’
It’s freakin’ hilarious! I can’t say it enough, but I’m simply…blessed. I love feeling alive with my husband and children. I wasn’t ‘planning’ on 10 kids, but someone else was, even if I thought someone else was more worthy than I. Oh, and my best friend has 3 amazing daughters! Go figure!”
This story was submitted to Love What Matters by Coach Andi LaBrune of Spotsylvania, VA. You can follow her journey on Instagram here, and on her website. Submit your own story here. Be sure to subscribe to our free email newsletter for our best stories, and YouTube for our best videos.
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