One of our friends with a toddler recently posted a query, "How do you keep an 11-month-old entertained all day?"
Someone else responded immediately, "Get them a sister."
I laughed when I read that. It was easier when our children entertained each other rather than depending on me. For years it seemed I hardly spoke to adults because there were so many kids around. I homeschooled and taught music from home, so it felt like I hardly left the house.
At one point, our four were under nine years of age. The old ladies used to look at the flock of kids and their friends and say, "Oh honey, how do you do it? How can you keep up with all those children?"
I used to shrug. It was nothing but a daily routine. Once in a while, I got so tired I thought the day would never end. I always dreaded birthday parties with the high expectations of young hoards expecting entertainment and fun, but we seemed to live through them.
The parent who is climbing the ladder at work usually builds a career and family at the same time, so he or she is typically more generous about offering help than actually being useful. I hear young moms complaining, "He wanted the kids as much as I did. But I seem to be doing all the work!" Yeah, it's always been that way (as house-fathers find out, too.) There's only so much energy to go around: a parent who spends it all at work find little stamina for childhood games and the whirling bodies of youngsters.
With pre-teens and young teenagers, the primary caregiver opens a taxi service. It's a great relief to hand over the car keys and say, "Have fun! Remember God is watching!" Sometimes we'd wince as a less-than-experienced sixteen-year-old eased out of the driveway, accompanied by our prayers for God's protection.
Some years felt like endless drudgery and hard slogging, teaching kids to do chores and answer the phone with good manners. As they emerged into adulthood, the work began to fade into fond memories. I went to work full-time and loved being away from the house. It was liberating to put systems in place that connected people, to serve those who noticed and said "Thank you!"
Now that I'm back home, I LOVE LOVE LOVE this season. (Did I say I love it?!) Having the house to myself, baking or cooking when I'm hungry, waiting for W to walk in the door, studying new things and planning each day with an ebb and flow... this must be the best season of all.
*"Why should I fear when trouble comes, when enemies surround me? They trust in their wealth and boast of great riches. Yet they cannot redeem themselves from death by paying a ransom to God. Redemption does not come so easily, for no one can ever pay enough to live forever and never see the grave." Psalm 49:5–9 NIV
*Send your grain across the seas, and in time, profits will flow back to you. But divide your investments among many places, for you do not know what risks might lay ahead." Ecclesiastes 11:1–2 NLT
*"Young people, it's wonderful to be young! Enjoy every minute of it. Do everything you want to do; take it all in. But remember that you must give an account to God for everything you do. So refuse to worry, and keep your body healthy. But remember that youth, with a whole life before you, is meaningless." Ecclesiastes 11:9–10