“Wow! 4 kids! Are they all yours? You’re brave!”
I hear this nearly every time I go out in public with my four children ranging from 3 to 10 years old. Along with, “You sure are busy!” and “You’ve got your hands full!”
Sometimes I choose to wear those comments as a badge of honor. Yes, they are all mine. I have kept them alive all this time. I haven’t even misplaced anyone! Can you believe it? Me either! Other times I want to get my sass on and tell them that we are thinking about getting rid of one but just can’t quite decide who to vote out of the family.
One day, my daughter wore fairy wings to the park. She brought up the rear in our single file line of bag-carrying kids and strollers. A sweet, elderly woman sitting on a nearby bench shouted with joy, “Oh look! A parade!”
While most days I do feel like a parade or even more so, a circus, I don’t think the size of my family constitutes bravery.
Soldiers are brave. Heroes who take action in a moment of danger are brave. Bravery gets your name in the paper or a medal pinned to your chest by the President. Last I checked, no SAHM was awarded a Congressional Medal of Honor for her fantastic ability to simultaneously fold laundry, feed the baby, and pay the bills while scheduling doctor appointments for the entire family. No, “multi-tasking-mama” is not included in the Webster’s definition of bravery.
Still, something about that word resonates with me.
My first three kids (or The Big 3 as we lovingly refer to them) were born within a three-year span. I definitely felt like I was drowning in children. Under the influence of sleep deprivation, I found I couldn’t put a solid sentence together and eating a full plate of scrambled eggs with my hands became habit. I routinely had older, more seasoned moms stop to encourage me in parking lots and grocery stores. “You will make it through! Keep going!”
This “call to arms” got me thinking. Maybe it’s just as much about consistency as it is about valor. Longevity and steadfastness aren’t sexy, but they are necessary. Still, the close proximity of my children’s ages doesn’t make me brave. No, what makes me brave is something far less flashy, but no less vital. It’s the same thing that makes you brave, too, dear mom. Are you ready for it?
You are brave because every morning you wake up and decide to keep being a mom. A good mom. Not just any mom—their mom.
You keep doing the laundry that cyclically vomits on your bathroom floor. You keep thinking about how you can set them up to succeed. You keep figuring out new ways to let them know you love them, believe in them, and will always—ALWAYS—be in their corner.
Being brave doesn’t mean never feeling overwhelmed. In fact, bravery is at it’s best when life is staging a hostile takeover and you decide to engage in the battle instead of giving up. Whether that battle be with a sink full of dishes (okay, let’s be honest, not just the sink, but the counter, dishwasher, stove and possibly the oven, too) or declaring an emancipation of your toddler from the crib to the big-kid bed, you are brave because you choose to be a mom every day.
Keep going, fellow mom. Whether your family fits in a compact car or a conversion van, whether you have kids in diapers or in booster seats, soldier on. Keep being that beautiful, brave mom you already are.
“Wow! Four (or however many you have) kids! You sure are brave!”
Why, thank you. I really am, aren’t I?