By Annie Turner, Guest Writer
“It’s mornings like these that I question my life choices,” I joked to my sons’ preschool director as we arrived through the doors of the school.
It was a rainy, dreary morning, and we had barely survived the ten yard trip from the minivan to the church. Four-month-old Libby was screaming at the injustice of being both cold and wet since the flimsy muslin blanket I had quickly draped over her infant car seat failed to keep her out of the drizzle.
Silas (4) and Theo (2) had stumbled behind me as I dragged them through the parking lot, their heavy boots and fluffy jackets impeding their progress. Silas struggled to hold his bright red ladybug umbrella in one hand, and Theo’s hand in the other, and Theo cried because he doesn’t have a bright red ladybug umbrella, and I fussed at them both to walk faster than a snail’s pace.
We arrived drenched, cranky, and disheveled, and required that two teachers hold the double doors open for us since my hands were full of crying children, tote bags, and one bright red ladybug umbrella.
I felt all eyes on me as we stumbled through the doors—a true train wreck of an arrival—and heat began flushing my cheeks, so I quickly made my joking comment to our lovely school director and smiled apologetically at the other ladies helping us in. They laughed and smiled warmly, and I felt pleased at diffusing my embarrassing situation.
But as I herded my kids down the stairs into their classrooms (nothing like navigating wet stairs with three kids under five!), a little blossom of hurt bloomed in my chest.
It was an unusual feeling, but one I recognized from that time in ninth grade when I said something unkind about a girl in our class, not realizing until it was too late that she had overheard me. It was a sense of immense guilt, embarrassment, and a chastised realization that I was making fun of someone at their expense. But who was I treating unkindly here? There was no one to feel hurt except myself!
It’s a natural deflection, I think, to make jokes about ourselves before others can point out our areas of vulnerability.
I chose to have three kids in four years, and have welcomed each child into our family with all the joy and love in my heart. Some days are awful, of course, and I stress-eat chocolate chips inside a locked bathroom. But I have never once doubted or regretted my decision to have my children when we did.
In fact, if it weren’t for the actual logistics of having a bigger family (cheaper by the dozen, you say? Have you accounted for inflation?), I could easily see us having more children (it should be noted that you’ll definitely get a different opinion if you ask my tired husband).
So why do I make jokes like this?
Why do I roll my eyes when people ask me how I’m doing? Why, when people frequently say (as if I’ve heard it for the first time), “My, you’ve got your hands full!” does a blush redden my face as I laugh in agreement and shake my head? Why do I feel the need to apologize for having three young children, and why do I sometimes feel embarrassed when we all come tumbling out of the van like clowns from a clown car? (PS. Since when did three kids constitute a large family?! I grew up with four siblings after all!)
There are many things I should be sorry for.
Scolding Silas for having trouble opening his umbrella this morning, for instance.
Forgetting to let the dog outside every afternoon.
Forgetting that we have a dog.
Pretending to be asleep when our two-year-old wakes up in the middle of the night in hopes that my husband will go comfort him.
However, I should never be apologetic for having three lovely, loud, occasionally obnoxious, needy, precious little children.
And I need not apologize if my husband and I decide to have more children in the future. I refuse to feel embarrassed about these life choices.
Having a large family might not be for everyone, and it may occasionally lead to embarrassing situations where I need to apologize (like the time my son drew on a neighbor’s floor with permanent marker), but my husband and I made this decision together with thought, care, and the utmost love.
My hands are full, my house is bursting, our minivan is at capacity, but my heart is overflowing.
And that is all that matters.
Bio: Annie Turner is a mom to three young children in Richmond, VA. When she’s not changing diapers or trying to finish a train of thought, she enjoys adventuring around Richmond with her kids, reading, writing, and long walks while listening to podcasts and audio books. She thinks children are wonderful little miracles, but texts her husband every M-F to “just see if he thinks he’ll be coming home early.”
Photo provided by Annie Turner