How I Did It All

For Stacey, with love…

When she is a wife, the mother of several children, each of whom she home schools- and everything is accomplished on a shoestring budget… the question is bound to come up… How do you do it all?

And so I’ve been asked this question many times. There were those early days when I wasn’t sure how to answer. Then came those days when I’d learned to parrot the obvious reply with beaming smile- God and God alone. This was absolutely true, albeit a less practical answer than most may have anticipated. Eventually, I began to offer this brief and lighthearted summary: I enjoy it! I never could stand boring!

I am compelled to admit that all along the journey, I have wondered at how presumptuous people are to assume that because I am roaming the wholesale club with a long trail of children behind me and two over-loaded carts, during regular school hours- I am fair game for their unremitting interference.

I have often been cornered by complete strangers who are curious as to my educational level concerning birth control. Many have taken it upon themselves to remind me that we have a perfectly good public school system that will allow me a huge break from these tremendously draining responsibilities.

Of course, this line of reasoning inevitably leads to the well-intentioned warnings that my children will never be normal socially if I persist in this probably illegal lifestyle.

One of my outstanding memories of the days when I would often venture out of the house with the entire young family in tow, is of a visit to our local movie rental store. I planned our little excursion because I had absolutely had it with my probably illegal lifestyle of personally instructing, entertaining, and conversing with my little charges day in and day out. And they had absolutely had it with me. Furthermore, I was pretty sure that if we continued in our chosen lifestyle with no reprieve, I would be socially abnormal.

We arrived at the store and I released the children to each find a family-friendly movie that we might all enjoy. This meant five movies, as the baby was too young to participate. I was contemplating some serious down time. The children scurried around the store exclaiming over first one title and then another, while I (in a moment of stricken conscience) searched for something educational. The children were not loud, but they were as usual extremely busy.

I heard the shelf fall- but really it was no biggie as I was able to restore all to right in a matter of moments. Nonetheless, as I paid the young -maybe twenty year old- store clerk, I was stunned by his question. “Lady,” he boldly asserted, “why do you keep doing this to yourself?” (Oh, yes, I was conspicuously expecting a new blessing any day.  Still, one would have thought I had appeared with twenty-two piercings and ninety percent of my body tattooed!)

Of course there have been other moments of a wholly positive nature along the way… Once, while we were having the rare meal at a sit-down restaurant, following a Sunday service, a well dressed woman and her equally dapper husband stopped by our table to compliment us on our beautiful group, to remark that they had been observing us throughout the meal, that it appeared obvious that we were a “godly” family, and to wish us continued success.

The encounter inspired a truly lovely feeling in me for some time. In fact, in review, I began to wonder if maybe they had been angels sent to encourage me, as two ordinary mortals surely could not observe our family throughout an entire meal and come to such a consensus. On further reflection, I hoped they were angels, as the thought of being so closely examined by mere human beings was really kind of creepy…

But, guess what… We who love Jesus are called to be witnesses. We are to welcome close inspection. Sobering, isn’t it?

Of course, I’m rambling now, but you can forgive a bit of digression in light of my circumstance as a mother of multiple children… Back to the question at hand: How do I do it all?

Well, honestly, I have only ‘done it all’ on one day. It remains an exceptional day in my memory. It was such an extraordinary experience that I called my dear friend, Jill, on the following day to share with her that I had discovered the secret to success.

Excitedly, I told her of how I had, with great affection sent my husband on his way for the day, prepared a hot breakfast for my large family, taught the children Bible, Math, History, and the Language Arts. I regaled her with tales of my homemade cookies at snack time, the piano lesson across town that I drove my daughter to- managing to arrive early! The amazing dinner prepared from scratch with loving hands for my family to enjoy…

She was impressed and anxiously awaited my revelation of the formula. I almost hated to tell her… I sat down at the end of the perfect day- list in hand, every item thrillingly checked off… in the bathrobe and slippers that I had put on the night before and had failed to remove over the course of the entire day. My hair had not been combed, my face had not been washed, nor my teeth brushed… I think I answered the phone and told someone I’d never heard of myself.

Suffice it to say, I don’t do it all. I do my best to accomplish what I believe my God would have me to do each day. Sometimes those things are things that I would like to do, or that I am purposing to do. Other times they are of a nature entirely His own, and have never entered my mind prior to His announcement. However, any day is a great day if I can lay my head upon my pillow at its close, and know that I have kept my mind on Christ and have, to the best of my ability as a flawed clay pot, carried out His orders.

©2010, L.L. Shelton