Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Split So Many Ways


At Christmastime my mom arrived at our house bearing many gifts, but the one I loved the most was a small bag filled with a few letters.  One was from my Grandma B, (my mom is the oldest of nine) addressed to her and written on December 21. My grandmother made raising nine children look easy.  I remember her as a kind, but no-nonsense sort of grandmother-I am sure she was the same as a mother.  I soaked up every word.

The paragraph I love the best is this one:

The only thing I can tell you is that it is very difficult to raise a large family.  It is so demanding, you are split so many ways.  I used to be very cross at Christmas, I still am, some days you just had no more to give. The mother takes the full blow of everything that happens.  I know you must get very weary because there is always so much to do.  Someday you will receive lovely little specials like I do and it will all be worth it.  I am so proud of all of you and the years were not wasted.  If I can leave you nothing, I just want you all to know your Dad and I loved everyone of you from the first to the last.

Now I know I have just six, compared to her nine, but I tears came to my eyes when I read the first two sentences.  It is so true.  It is difficult to raise a large family and it demands so much of my time and energy and I do feel split so many ways.  When I feel this one here needs extra attention, then this one here is not getting it.  It goes back and forth and round and round, and I try hard to be everything to everyone.  There is so much joy of course and I wouldn't want my life to look one bit different, but when it comes down to it, it's a whole bunch of work-mentally, emotionally and physically and it never ever lets up.


I hold my Grandma B in such high esteem.  I know she didn't whine about the work, or complain about her "lack of 'me' time".  She didn't consider a work-out and a manicure essential and I can't really see her and my Grandpa making "date nights" a priority.  (And they had a beautiful marriage-more than 60 years.)  I think she made do with much less and ended up with much more-more in the sense of what really matters.  And boy is that refreshing to know.  It's just nice to let go of so much of the pressure from the barrage of "must-do's" we mothers receive.  My grandma was a good friend, and a good neighbor, and a good wife and involved in her church and community, but she was home mostly.  Home, working hard, raising and loving children, making lots of sandwiches, and doing lots of laundry.


I miss her and will treasure this sweet letter forever. 

40 comments:

  1. Oh wow. What a lesson. My grandmother is still living every day to the fullest and raised five - and I could write all of these things about her too. We all look to her with respect and admiration. She did not stay home tho- she worked outside the home every day. Amazing she is at 88!

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  2. I so needed to read this tonight. Thank you! We are expecting number 11 and it is definitely a challange but so very worth it!!

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  3. I love this post. She made do with much less and ended up with much more....love it

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  4. What a sweet gift to receive. My MIL is one of 9, never one to complain and gives to everyone. I am the mother of two, both adults now, 19 & 23. I felt torn with just the two of them. There were only two, 50/50...however, it doesn't work that way. Some days one needs you more than the other and vice versa.

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  5. beautiful.... I miss my Grandma (Nonna) too....she raised 5 children 4 boys and 1 girl; wonderful post! thank you!

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  6. Beautiful!! The last two sentences made me tear up, sniff. My own grandmother was a regular writer and I have many treasured letters from her to me:)
    Your g'mother's letter has re inspired me for this year, I keep thinking I should try to write regularly via snail mail to my college children.

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  7. I can't tell you how much I needed to read this tonight . Thank you so much. And thank God for special grandmothers!

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  8. So beautiful. What a precious gift to receive.

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  9. This was a beautiful post. Thank you for sharing part of this letter. What a legacy you have received. God Bless You.

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  10. This was so touching to me and brought tears to my eyes. We have so much to learn from the women who came before us, don't we? Your grandmother seems like such a great example. (And you sound so much like her, I kept thinking that as I read what she wrote!) I know where you got your wisdom from. :)

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  11. Thank you for sharing a bit of your grandma's words. This big family is new to me. I cannot look back into my family's history and find such examples. My dear mother in law raised eight children but she died almost 6 years ago, just as my oldest was 8 and I only had 5 children. I wish she were here to help me along the way.

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  12. What a beautiful gift. In some ways, I wish we all lived a little more like that generation. So much of that resonated with me. I especially loved the last line. What more could you ask for?

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  13. Thank you so much for sharing this. I needed to hear it tonight. I had set a goal of 30 workouts in 30 days and failed. On day 27 I didn't do it. So I have been feeling like a failure.

    But you know what I did do? I did hug my kids. And feed them. Color with them. Do school with them. Laugh with them, and tuck them in their little beds. And that matters.

    Thank you for reminding me that it matters.

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  14. What a lovely letter to treasure. Grandma B from her photos looks like she enjoyed life albeit full with children and so much work but that smile shines through, a sparkle in the eyes tells a lot that more often than not she was happy with her lot.

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  15. Hi Sarah, I have been thinking about this Post all day and so thought it appropriate to comment, if anything just to say thank you for sharing this beautiful letter from your Grandma with us. It really resonated with me and reminded me of the type of thing my Grandma would say. I've just had baby no. 5 and agree it is a lot of work raising a largish family (of course it is) and I feel that there is pressure today for motherhood to be made either to look easy or to be easy. I'm ok with the hard work part and it's so nice to visit your space here to be reminded of that. Mel x

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  16. What a beautiful letter. Truly inspiring and a great reminder that the women before us didn't worry about play dates and sports practices. They stayed home, worked hard, and cared for their families.I'm blessed to still have my grandmom (she's in her 90s) and I called her on my cellphone while my husband was driving us to the beach over the summer. My grandmom was so cute and couldn't believe I was calling her from my car in a different state. Then, I heard my Grandpop pick up the phone and I told her that I couldn't believe they had two phones now, haha! :). Anyway, what a treasure to have this special letter! Thanks for sharing!

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  17. Thank you, Sarah. I needed to hear that, especially today x

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  18. What a powerful post! Thank you for sharing her words. Definitely words and a lesson that should be taken to heart.

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  19. That letter is such a treasure. thanks for sharing that paragraph with us. I LOVE our Grandmothers mentality and heart. I miss both my Grandmas, they were over 90, almost 100, when they passed a few years ago. They both went through WWII in Italy, (my own Dad was born during the war, the year they bombed their home). The stories they told me about the early years of their lives, trying to raise their families, resound in my ears and there is pure wisdom there, just like here in your Grandmas words.
    We should live much more as they lived and be content. We have it good...oh so good.



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  20. I know exactly what you mean. With my 6 it's hard to jump from jr. high girl drama, to sleepless toddler nights of cutting molars, to practicing word wall words, and helping a high schooler with algebra all in the same span of 24 hours.

    I love those little windows to the past... what a wonderful treasure to have!

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  21. These words struck a chord with me today. My husband and I have five children and I really wanted one more. I'm now 34+ weeks pregnant with twin girls and I stress everyday about being able to meet the needs of all my children - especially with two newborns on the way. I wouldn't trade it though. I truly believe I came to earth to be a mother - and I know that raising these children will be the best thing I will do in my life. Bring on the work....

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  22. That's sweet. My Grandma just died last week, at age 94. She "only" had two children but she also spent her life at home, working hard to keep children and grandchildren and husband fed and in clean clothes, etc. Until I was 8, we lived only a block from her house and she took care of my brother and me all the time. We were so close and I miss her! I spoke at her funeral and said that one lesson I take from her life is that even a simple, quiet life at home shines a great light. Grandma didn't show off her light or feel the need for a big "career" but she did not hide her light either. She made everyone feel special and that is such a gift.

    I think I love to read your blog, Sarah, because its one of the reminders that a simple life at home is okay. More than okay, it's just right.

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  23. So sweet. I just love how people can leave lasting impressions on each other, even long after they are gone. She sounds like a wonderful woman.

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  24. Lovely. But you must never say "just"... The vocation of mothering is honorable and difficult, to one or many...it's mothering. I appreciate hearing your grandmother's words and wisdom and most of all, honesty.

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  25. I am feeling split with just two (given, one is six weeks old). This is good and welcome perspective--as always :)

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  26. Love reading this today, Sarah. Its hard, this mom-job thing..I sometimes think I cant do one more "thing" and now that I have kids old enough to stay up until 9pm (!!) I am finding it hard to have any "me" time....I always feel so normal when I come here to check in...LOVE and cherish your perspective on everything and I cried reading the note from your Grandmother.

    I also love reading that there are so many of us who feel the same way. So when I get to feeling totally overwhelmed and my husband and I both feel exhausted all.the.time.....I know we arent alone...which really does help :)

    Thank you for writing,
    Amy W
    Chicago burbs...

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  27. Love it! I love the calm, no-nonsense simple wisdom of someone who has been there. It is not easy - especially in this day and age where there are so many demands for women to be more and do more outside of the home. I love your call to a more simple lifestyle - that is what feels natural to me and makes me happy. It IS a lot of work to raise a big family. I feel torn a lot of the time - with 8 it is hard to know who needs me the most! Surely a lot of dishes and laundry and meal-making! But it is so good to know there are others who have been there before and have been successful - and neat to have a window into your wonderful mothering and thoughts. Love your blog, Sarah! It makes me feel not so different from everyone else :)

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  28. This is lovely. Honestly, I feel split with two children. Yet I would still have more, given the chance, because big families are a joy to behold. Keep up the all the good work, Sarah!

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  29. Love this, Sarah! I am completely in favor of women taking good care of themselves as well as their families, but it does seem that sometimes our culture demands that we need pampering. Pampering is not essential. It's nice sometimes, but it's not essential. And too much of it is not good for us.

    I know you'll treasure this letter!

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  30. That is so great that you have this ...and so weird that you posted it now....I just found a package with a notebook/letter from my Granny given to me when I was 16. I lost her the next year and so I treasure this so much~she too was imparting wisdom and knowledge with that notebook. I tried to reread it last week and after the first paragraph I just went to pieces,..so hopefully in a week or so I can try it again!! I hope to be such a great, Godly influence in my children and grandchildren's lives...

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  31. I needed to hear this today too... I'm pregnant with my eighth and just spent all day in the hospital. Being on bed rest and only 16 wks pregnant has spun me. Reading these words I realized just what I'm feeling- split. Caring for me and my baby leaves my husband and seven others without me. This is temporary, but still hard. Thanks for this post.

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  32. My husband and I have been married for 30 years and we have 10 children. For many of those years, I looked to (and idolized?) my grandmothers' generation for inspiration about how to raise a large family, so I did not prioritize "me" time or daily exercise or date nights. For me that was foolishness and pride! I do not live in my grandmothers' generation, nor my mother's. I do not have the societal support their generations had for raising any size family. We homeschool, have several home businesses and a family business and my husband also works outside our home. It is healthy and wise for me to prioritize time alone to gather my wits, to exercise regularly and to have time alone with my husband. For me, it has been a matter of listening very carefully to the leading of the Holy Spirit for wisdom concerning how to raise our large family in this generation. Thankfully, God has been faithful to give that wisdom!

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  33. thank you so much for this post. shhh-just found out we're expecting #9- only a few weeks pregnant but already nauseous- these children are all such tremendous blessings-what greater calling than to sacrifice our time and more for them- we are helping bring to pass our Father in Heaven's work. such a great reminder that it is the best and hardest job. :)

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  34. I love this. Thank you for sharing. It's so nice to know I'm not alone in feeling split in so many directions. Date nights are such a modern creation for married couples. I don't think my grandparents ever had a date night away from their children, at least when their kids were small.

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  35. What a treasure you have!! Many thanks for sharing it, Sarah!

    And I love what you said: 'She didn't consider a work-out and a manicure essential and I can't really see her and my Grandpa making "date nights" a priority.'
    True love does not require such things. I remember now a quote I heart: "The vocation of every man and woman is to serve other people."--Leo Tolstoy

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  36. What a beautiful letter! It is truly inspirational.

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