“Six kids! What’s that like?”
Answers you may expect: “exhausting;” “fun;” “chaotic;” “nonstop.” Answer I didn’t expect, but that I find is true: “liberating.”
Why? Because I no longer have either the time or inclination to care what anyone else thinks. This doesn’t mean I’m not interested in advice or learning from other parents: There is always more to learn from other people. What it does mean, though, is that I literally have no time for the following:
You didn’t RSVP to my kid’s birthday party? Doesn’t faze me—I know how busy things can get, believe me! You made your kid’s birthday party at the same time as my kid’s, and now my party’s invitees are dropping like flies? No worries—I’ll cancel the party. (No, seriously. The kid is turning 2; she couldn’t pick her “friends” out of a lineup.)
There are only so many hours in the day, and only so much emotional energy a person can summon. I’ll save my ire for more big-ticket items.
2. Looking Like I “Have It All.”
I actually think I do have it all at this particular moment in time: a great husband, kids I love, incredible friends and siblings, et cetera et cetera. But I have no idea where my hairbrush is on most days, so looking “put together” or “chic” is usually somewhat beyond my grasp. My basic goal is to look like I have both pants and a shirt on. And shoes. Ideally, two of them. There’s not going to be an amazeballs pic of me on Facebook, mostly because I don’t look so amazing. I also go out of my way to post pictures of my kid having a breakdown on nursery school picture day, rather than the perfectly staged preschooler-looking-pensively-into-the-distance (as preschoolers tend to do).
Life—at least, my life—isn’t beautifully curated 24/7. And so, I have learned to love the mess. So if you look good when I see you at Mommy and Me, that’s awesome… but it doesn’t make me think less of myself that you look good. And if you’re judging me? Live it up.
3. Being mean to myself.
Sure, I still have the voices in my head saying things like, “You had your baby four months ago—shouldn’t you fit into a smaller pair of pants already?” But you know something? I’m 42, and I had six kids. My stomach looks like it’s trying out for a new non-exercise video entitled, “Abs of Bread Dough.” (Fortunately, I was never one for crop tops.) I’m more wrinkly (“lived in”) than most moms with two under 2, or, for that matter, four under 4. But I have learned that I’m a hell of a lot stronger than I thought I was, both physically and mentally. To me, that cancels out the rest nicely.
Sure, there’s stuff that is tough about having a lot of kids, and at the end of the day, before I close my eyes, I just feel grateful that we all made it through another day. But the fact is, it feels really good to let go of the kinds of things that, in the grand scheme of things, don’t matter at all.