Life can be very interesting when the larger than average family attempts to stay in a hotel. Especially when the stay is an extended one or hopping from one hotel to another on a long road trip. Quite honestly there can be moments that feel over the top in complexity and complication. Our family has had a lot of recent experience with this and is currently living this out as we are tagging along on a business trip with daddy.
I have found that there are all new house rules that have to be established such as where we put our coats and shoes when we enter our room, how we get on and off the elevator with the stroller and all our people and belongings, how we manage to get everyone served at breakfast, who helps who across the parking lot, who sleeps where and how many pillows each child gets, and the list goes on beyond any sane level of family strategizing. As I said, we are on this trip while daddy works, and so I am doing most of this alone day in and day out. We do not know how long we will be here, so we are working hard at making expectations clear and training on what is expected. Some moments are better than others, but we are making the best of it and trying to learn and create memories in the process.
One thing that makes things feel more stressful is the looks people give me and the staring as I caravan my ducklings around. Whenever things get chaotic I feel like people are all eyes, and when things are going well they are still all eyes. Some people look at me like I'm an idiot to be going around with all of these children, and some are genuinely interested and complimentary of our family. I pray with the children that we will shine the light of Christ as we go about our day. It is without doubt that we will draw attention even without trying. One real challenge when we are all living spending so much time together is fighting against selfishness and sibling rivalry. We are talking a lot about having servant's hearts and looking for ways to serve the younger ones in our family. I share with the children that if we are not having harmony then we are not reflecting the love of Christ as people watch us.
It is interesting to see the reactions people have to our family. Many of the people we pass in this hotel are business people alone or in cooperate groups. We see very few children here. The other day we passed two men at breakfast, and it appeared that the one man subtly pointed us out to the other man. When his friend saw me walking all five children, with my belly sticking out, his response was to take the Lord's name in vain. How very sad! My thoughts were, "Is it so odd to have a large family and embrace the blessing of children?" "Does it make me such an outcast to try to give my all to serve the Lord in raising my children for His glory?" "Am I really that much of a freak that people stare at me and tell me I am crazy?" (Yes, I have been told that more than once.) All the while this culture is filled with all kinds of people with crazy beliefs and unbiblical lifestyles, and the world applauds them. I think of the verse that says, "All those who live a Godly life in Christ Jesus shall be persecuted." Sometimes I feel a small taste of that in how people look at me. I literally can feel the stares as I come and go with the children.
However, I must also mention that now and then someone will take the time to compliment our family or say what a great family we have, or how well behaved the children are, etc. Those times really do encourage me and refresh me in contrast to how many people make me feel. Obviously I do not choose to make decisions for my life based upon the opinions of culture or how others receive or reject me, however, a little encouragement here and there is refreshing. So, if you see a Mama with a large herd of children, and she is trying her best to parent effectively you could really brighten her day by saying something encouraging to her. Believe me anyone with over three children in this culture probably gets plenty of the negative, critical looks and comments.
Well, for now we continue to live out large family life in a hotel. :) We are taking day trips around Kansas City and have done some neat things so far. I have had to be adamant with my older children that the only way we can take these outings is if they are looking for ways to help with the younger ones. They are learning and doing a good job. It is truly a great thing to have a couple of older children now that can watch a younger sibling while I help another child in the bathroom, who can buckle a younger sibling in a car seat, etc. I find that I am also having to train Lilly Faith to allow her older siblings to help her too. Sometimes she would prefer Mama do everything for her, and so it is a training session all the way around. I am having to train her that when I ask Lauren to buckle her in her carseat that she needs to let Lauren buckle her in. Sometimes the training seems endless and brutally hard, but it is bearing fruit and it is allowing us to get around and enjoy fun together that we could not otherwise do. We are thankful we are able to be here with daddy and not back at home separated from him. Some of the circumstances are quite challenging, but we are learning, training, and united together as a family. AND hopefully we are shining the light of Christ as we go. :)