Children Are a Handful So Let a Mom Be Tired

Children Are a Handful So Let a Mom Be Tired

Last week we visited with an older lady whom we don’t see very often (not even every year). Not long after we greeted each other, she looked at me and said, “You’re too busy.” I smiled, and jokingly said, “how do you know”? And she pointed to my children and said, “Oh, I know.”

Later in the visit she mentioned “what a handful that many children were”, and again, I just smiled. Then I heard her bring it up to my husband…”all that work.” And later, she questioned how I found time to homeschool, etc.

Finally, I realized that she just couldn’t comprehend the large family concept so I decided to answer.

I leaned in toward her a bit and with the warmest smile I could muster I said, “Ya know, they are a lot of work. But I can’t think of anything else I’d rather invest my time and energy in than raising children for the glory of God.”

Not earth-shattering, not rude, but a simple declaration of truth.

Somehow the woman who holds a full time job and tries to manage a home and leads the Girl Scout troop and heads up the church nursery never gets the barrage of “but it’s so much work!” The more she does, as long as it’s out there, the more she is encouraged and admired.

Or the student working on his PHD while waiting tables at night—it’s a noble thing he does, so we pat him on the back and say “good job.” (And we should.) Good things require hard work.

And don’t get me wrong, we should not be looking for men’s applause. But the comments and questions moms with more than two children receive are a sad gauge of how distorted our worldview is.

“It’s so much work.” Isn’t life work? Isn’t anything worthy of doing “work”? Am I really supposed to try to make it look like a breeze? Please tell me I’m allowed to be tired, or stressed out, or weary, just like the full-time working woman, or the over-studied student.

I’m a mother and it is hard work. And in this season of life I want to be broken and spilled out into the lives of my children. He has given us “a handful” for only a short time. If they aren’t worth the work, what is?

(Originally published in 2007)

18 Responses to “Children Are a Handful So Let a Mom Be Tired”

  1. Julie says:

    Yes, yes, and a thousand times, yes!

  2. Erika Shupe says:

    Oh…Thank you. Yes. Amen. Just found out we’re expecting our 10th. *smile* I’m so tired. *chuckle* I love your understanding heart, Kelly. *hugs* when you came to speak at the Christian Heritage Homeschool and Family Discipleship Conference in Redmond WA in Feb. 2014 I followed you around to your workshops and drank in your humor, your easy going homeschool advice (new to this hyper-responsible-first-born homeschooling mother of 9), and your encouragements, and bought one of your books. =) I’m so glad the Lord brought you along my path. *squeeze hugs* And now when I’m feeling especially desiring of fellowship with other 10-children mothers (this is feeling very different than “just 9”)…I’m glad all the more to know you… – Erika

  3. Rebecca Fox says:

    That was wonderful! Thank you! I was thinking the other day about this and it is like we are laying down our lives for others. No greater love. It is hard. I will say it again, it is hard. My body struggles to keep up with it. I pray for strength to keep on keeping on. Praise God for the little children that will impact tomorrow. We have a part in this. I pray we don’t give up but keep doing what God has called us to do. It is sad that many don’t understand. It is nice to read things like this, very encouraging.
    Thank you, Rebecca

  4. Well said, Kelly. (Again – hee hee.) Sometimes I think it really all stems from this attitude that “anyone can do it” and “why reinvent the wheel?”, you know? If “most” kids are in day care or public school, then why would you WANT to take on the extra work of being home and educating them yourself? Cuz, you know, it’s WORK…and isn’t there other work you could/should/would be doing if you weren’t raising people? I used to get offended, now I just kind of shake my head (like you did) and go, “Yup. Hands full. It’s a good thing.”

  5. Linda says:

    I homeschooled my nine as well but only three left at home. Mine are thirty years down to thirteen. I remember when I had a lot of little ones, I was also constantly tired. Then, the older ones became older and helped so much. As they grew, it got better and better. I am loving my new, quiet life but I am so grateful for the large family and grandchildren that keep coming. A house full of little ones is just a season, a hard season, but why do all the mothers of large families look back at the hard work and feel it was the best years of their lives??

  6. Rachel says:

    Thank you for reposting this. I sure needed it today.

    My mother and her fiance visited us recently. I’m 8 months pregnant with number 4. My mother’s fiance was the oldest of seven, so I didn’t expect disapproval from him. He took every opportunity to express how unmanageable 4 would be–three is fine, that’s how many he and his ex had, but four is beyond the pale–and to recall how ashamed he was in high school when his mother had her last child. He also doesnt like that Im disrupting the character of my family by having my first daughter. One of his kids has two sons, and the other married child has two daughters. A “mixed” family is just sloppy.

    My mother, herself no housekeeper, was dismayed at the state of my living room, between the dirt and crumbs on the floor, toys, and projects my children had constructed. I’m not pleased with my living room either, which is why I’ve been vacuuming it on a daily basis and have the children (6,4, and 2) clean up the toys regularly. It just doesn’t stay that way very long. The projects (forts and such) are used so frequently that I don’t make the children deconstruct them very often. She didn’t like my lack of outside social engagement either. I’d love to be involved in some local groups, but I have no one to babysit, and my husband works on the road. It’s definitely a goal for me, just not part of my current season.

    • “A “mixed” family is just sloppy.”

      I don’t even know how to process that. Just be mindful that someone who makes a comment like this certainly has a warped sense of reality, so I wouldn’t give any credit to his statements.

      • Rachel says:

        I know that his family has problems, this was just a manifestation that surprised me. I also knew to expect comments with number 4 on the way, but receiving them from that quarter caught me off guard. The man is twice divorced, and both times just because he and the relevant wife got bored with each other. I definitely don’t take advice from him about family matters

  7. LOVE this Kelly! I have four little ones and am often tired, but it’s so worth it to get love and raise these precious children God has blessed me with.

  8. Mrs L says:

    Thanks for this encouragement! I only have four and am so tired right now (one’s a baby) and I just keep encouraging myself that the Proverbs 31 woman laughs at the days to come.
    So lovely to know someone ‘gets it’, and that I’m labouring along with other mothers, even if I’m on the other side of the world! (Australia).

  9. Amanda says:

    AAAAMEN!!!!!!! We were recently stationed in Japan, where they ADORE little children ;and pay citizens to have them, btw!) I would go out with our three little blonde “gaijin” boys under four, and get So much positive attention. I remember one old man who smiled at us at a stoplight and said very politely in English, “You are a very busy mother.” And I looked at him in the eye and said, “but, everyone is always busy doing something.” He did a double take, and with a nod of approval said, “YES! You are right!” We have four now–for now!–and I think I will always remember that sweet man.

  10. […] This post about how children are a handful […]

  11. Katie says:

    This was so great. I’m on the couch, sick and exhausted but so filled with joy to be pregnant with our 6th baby. It’s been such a struggle for me to hear the negative comments – I really don’t care much if they’re from people we don’t know, but from my parents it’s different and much more painful. 🙁 I know my mom worries about how tired I am, but I agree that if I was doing a lot of “extra” things or attaining something “out there” my tiredness would seem more acceptable or something. Ugh! So thanks for encouraging me today. I have no older moms to talk to, but I’m so grateful for you more seasoned, wise moms of many who take the time to blog!! You are doing so much for eternity! 🙂

    • Katie,

      Hang in there! You ARE doing important work and I’m sorry so few recognize it. One day though, you will here words that cause all the rest to fade…”Well done, good and faithful servant.”

  12. Cynthia says:

    In my golden years…my grandchildren tell me they want me to come live with them one day. What incredible love I have…they are constantly telling me they do this or that….just like me, and they actually think it would be good to be like me…unbelievable complement! Some how these days are flying by and moments with children and grandchildren bring more joy than I can express. Being a mom is not hard its a preview of God’s eternal love on earth.

  13. Christy says:

    I am sitting here nursing my 7th blessing. I have been pregnant or nursing for the last 18 years. I am tired, but it’s so much better than empty arms & empty life! I buried my 1st child/daughter when she was 2 from AML Leukemia, those empty arms are horrible. I am grateful for my exhaustion. The Lord fills me up and replenishes my soul, what more could I want or need?

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