On hectic days, the whole routine became an assembly line.
In a family of eleven, everything is a big deal.
However it was bath time, grooming time, story time and bed time that took a lot of creative problem solving abilities as well as a big investment in time. On hectic days this routine became an assembly line.
Step one:I would add a little more hot water to the tub and the next little one would hop in and start playing as they waited their turn. Meanwhile I dried a little body, wrapped them up in a huge towel, brushed their hair and set up a tooth-brush for the clean child. After brushing their teeth, the clean little kid proceeded into the family room where Dad would help them put on their pyjamas. I had already lined up each pile of underwear, undershirt, socks and p.j.s. Sometimes Michael would bellow from the family room,
"Are Mary's p.j.s pink or green; she wants the pink ones."
If their nail were long, Michael trimmed them.
Step two:The clean and groomed kid would hop up on the coach to look at books while waiting for a story. Then Michael and I would both read story books. The older kids with my husband and I took a couple of the youngest upstairs to read in bed because sometimes they would fall sleep during story time.
Step 3: Bedtime. I did anything and everything to make sure that bedtime was as peaceful and nurturing as possible. Happy, secure kids fall asleep quicker, sleep through the night and don't wake up too early. So to execute my ihumungous mission, I hung quilts over windows and used fans in the bedrooms to create white noise, blocking out any household noise that could disturb a younger child who needed more sleep. If someone was sick or couldn't fall asleep sometimes I laid down beside them. Soon another couple of bodies would sneak in, sandwiching me between sleeping bodies. When I was sure that everyone was in a deep sleep, I slowly moved, careful not to wake anyone up. Another tactic that helped soothe kids to sleep was to tuck them in beside an older sibling who was reading in bed. Any fears or loneliness disappeared with the older sibling's comforting presence.
If there was a new baby in the house , he or she transformed bedtime into a something magical. Kids couldn't wait to climb under the covers because I would wrap the baby up tightly in a soft blanket and gently place her beside them. I can still see my children's' delight as they gazed at the baby and the content, satisfied expression on their faces as they slept cuddled up beside them. Who needs a stuffed toy or a tattered favorite blanket if you have a warm newborn to cuddle with?
Basically though, even if I could run like an efficient machine, nothing went well when stressed or tense because my little kids picked up on every emotion I experienced. Even if I was not aware of my emotional state, the kids reacted to my vibes.
Seriously, it seemed that I function like either a juggler or an illusionist.
During this time hectic period in my life, I could not tolerate everyone's "awe" of a mother of nine. They would gush,
" Oh Melanie, you must have so much grace."
"If one more person tells me that I am going to scream or vomit!"
I felt that I was operating on caffeine from tea and my own stubborn drive and their praise was grating on my nerves.
Then one night around 3:00a.m., while rocking a baby, I heard within me,
"You don't have a clue how much grace I have poured out on you."
That put me in my place. The peace, joy and love in our family had a LOT more to do with His Spirit, than any of my strategies or patience!