*Having six kids is hard work. So is having one. Or two. Or three. Trust me...I have done it. The only thing harder with six than with one is that you can spread yourself pretty thin. But, I have seen some people spread themselves pretty thin with only one kid. The other stuff just kind of evens itself out. I am telling you this at the risk of losing my "I would help, but, you know...I have six kids" card.
*Having six kids is expensive. Duh. Eight people in a house is expensive, but I like to look at it like this...we are actually conservationists. To those who worry that we are leaving too large of a carbon footprint, consider this: we use the same amount of electricity to light, heat and cool our house with eight people inside as you use to light, heat and cool your house with three people inside. Car pooling? We do it every day. Cooking from scratch? We can't afford to do it any other way. Yes, our clothing an shoe budget is tight as heck, but hand me downs are the bomb-diggity. (I can't believe I just typed out bomb-diggity)
*Even though I dress like a slob most days, rarely "do" my hair, have dry, scaly skin and have the most un-glamorous life you can imagine, my eight year old thinks I'm beautiful and likes to paint my fingernails with red, glittery polish. So, I let her and it makes me feel half foolish and half pretty. So, see yourself through your younger children's eyes and you will feel pretty darn good.
*Seeing yourself through your teenage daughter's eyes is not good for your self-esteem. 'Nuff said.
*Reading is better than TV watching.
*Go ahead and hop in that picture. I always thought I looked too fat or not dressed well enough to get in photos with my kids. Now, here they are, mostly grown and I have zero pictures of myself with them. And,
the funny thing is, I wish I looked as young as I did back then. So, get in those pics and make some memories for after you're gone.
*People like to have you listen to them. From the youngest kid to the oldest pal, people enjoy eye contact and meaningful responses to their words. You can tell when someone is waiting for you to take a breath or a pause so that they can jump in with the story that will most definitely top yours. There will be time for you to talk later. To be a good listener is to be a good friend.
*Grocery shopping is not fun. Neither is doing laundry, cooking meals, cleaning house or driving people around. Yet, these things are the fabric of my life as a "housewife", a job I wouldn't trade for all the tea in China. I guess it's because I really love and cherish those for whom I do these tasks. Go figure.
*Talking politics and/or religion is usually a bad idea among friends and definitely among strangers. Throw in the anonymity of an online persona and there is bound to be trouble. If you enjoy keeping your blood pressure within the healthy, normal range, you should avoid participating in online debates about these topics and, for the love of God, don't read the comments section of most articles. That's where the trolls live, and they are nasty.
*You only need about 1/4 of the things on the "What you need" lists you find in books when having a baby.
Most of the stuff you get at a baby shower is unnecessary. After your third or fourth kid, you realize that all you need are diapers, onsies, gowns, cloth diapers (seriously, you can use these things for practically everything), a crib and a set of lactating breasts.The rest is fluff. Seriously. And,save your money for cute clothes for baby when he/she is old enough to wear them more than once. They grow that fast.
*If you serve regular meals to your family, your kids grow up eating regular food. If you feed your kids chicken nuggets and hot dogs because they don't want to eat "grown up" food, you will be cooking two separate meals, one for you and your spouse and one for the kids for the rest of their home lives. Have fun with that!
*Note to self: If you kind of have to go to the bathroom before you leave the house, you better go. You aren't in your 20's any more. Your days of "holding it" are over, my friend!
*I have learned (the hard way, unfortunately) that kids usually work out their differences with friends on their own. They like to choose their own friends. There is a real trend of mom cliques these days. I have had my feelings hurt for myself an my kids because the mom cliques kind of dictate who your kids get to be friends with. It's sometimes hard to navigate through friendships if your kids and your friend's kids don't like each other. It's even harder if your kid really likes another kid, but for whatever reason, the mom doesn't like you. Your kid will get left out and talked about. It's stupid and it sucks. But, if you try your best to stay out of the drama, it passes. I mean, think about it. How much of your day to day childhood do you really remember?
*Probably the most important thing I have learned is, be your spouse's best friend. Stand by each other. Be a united front. Put up with each other's stuff and be thankful that they put up with yours. Put your relationship with your spouse ahead of friendships and even the kids. The order of priorities should be God, spouse, then kids. I don't always get it right, but I know that my life feels right when I do.
I'm sure I have a few more things to learn. I plan on being around for a lot longer, so it'll give me something to do. Feel free to add to this list. What have you learned?