Why I love being a mommy of 4 under 3 (3 biological and 1 adopted)

Posted by  | Thursday, September 3, 2009  at 8:00 AM  

The oldest of my four children is 2 1/2 (Josh) - yes, that's right - that's my OLDEST of 4, and he is quite content to let you know of his superior age and experience :). He is the expert in all things for his siblings, and usually when they cry, it's because they are missing their Daddy and then whatever the real problem is. After that, comes my adorable identical twin girls who are now 16 months old. When we went in for our initial check-up/ultrasound I was 8 weeks along and they told me that I was going to have twins. My initial response was to burst into tears right then and there because I couldn't imagine how in the world I'd be able to handle 3 under 3 (Ha! The irony). The patient doctor reassured me and told me he had a set of twins, it would be okay, to which my response was - was your first 8 MONTHS OLD when you found out and he said "no" and I continued to cry until my husband asked me which of our children was I going to tell I didn't want, and I sobered up from the pregnancy hormones, walked around in a daze for 2 weeks, and then started getting excited. They are a joy. After that, comes my precious 1 month old - Isaac. When the girls were 6 weeks old, the Lord would not let me get away from the concept of adoption. So, I approached my husband, warned him that I had to be going through some weird type of baby blues, but that I thought we were supposed to start the process of adoption. He looked at me a little stunned, but prayed about it for the next 2 days, and we felt called to start the process. God is AMAZING at his timing too.

Most people think we're crazy to have 4 under 3, and it's not like when we got married and said we wanted kids, we planned on having them this close together, but that was what God told us to do - and yes, they were all planned :) - for each of them we felt God's prompting to begin to try for another one. Does that mean that we are pretty tired right now (we also moved a week after we came home with Isaac) and that errands with our adorable brood can be a challenge (shopping consists of what I can fit in the bottom of the stroller with my newborn strapped to me)? Of course it does. But I think so many times in life we miss out on the wonderful blessings that God has for us because we allow the god of comfort to slip his way into our lives. Is our life "comfortable" right now at this exact moment. Yes and no. It's extremely comfortable because we have a roof over our heads, food on the table, etc. But, no, it's not comfortable and full of ease the way a mom who has her kids a little more spaced out is right now. But, that wasn't God's plan for our lives. And like I said, his timing is amazing. We received Isaac literally on the exact day when he had to enter our lives or we would have had to wait several years before we could continue to process - that's too long a story to go into here.

So, that's who we are. But, why do I love being a mommy to my 4, and how do I love being a mommy to boys, girls, twins, and biological vs. adopted children? First of all, both genders are amazing. I was not excited when I found out that the girls were girls. Not because I never wanted girls, but I was having such a blast as a mom to a boy, that I couldn't imagine how being a mom to girls could ever be as fun. But I was SO wrong! Each gender has it's own fun idiosyncrasies that bring such joy. The girls crack me up as they practice being a mommy to their dolls - something I never had to teach them. And Karissa is going to be my fashion diva. She has a costume that she's created on every day. Kathleen is totally different - even though they are identical twins. God definitely gave them different personalities. It's not all in the genes :). It's been amazing to watch them be polar opposites from day one. God's little sparks of life that he breathed into them were precious to each of them uniquely. And my eldest boy - is all boy with such a tender heart. I love his obsession with all things that have wheels, and his utter fascination with noises and sounds. He is my little protector, especially of Isaac. He will stand guard and defend his little brother from the excessive loving of his sisters.

And then, there's Isaac. There is a whole gamut of reactions that adoptive moms feel when they bring a child home. I was blessed to receive a newborn this first time around. And I was so blessed because I weaned the girls 2 weeks before we brought Isaac home and was able to transition seamlessly over to nursing him. So, there was an instant bond with him the first night. I know for a fact that this is not always the case, and it's not realistic to expect it to always be like that. Adoption is very, very different in ways that you just don't expect. There is anticipation that a baby is coming, but it does not feel like a baby is coming. You go from living your life to boom, the next day literally, you bring a baby home. And if it's a domestic adoption that baby is not truly yours until the waiting period after the mother terminates her rights is over. So, you have a tug of war emotionally during that waiting period which places guards up within your emotions. Those I felt at least prepped for if not prepared for, but I wasn't ready for the fact that friends and family have that anticipation phase short-circuited too. It's just as hard on them because they don't have the time before hand where you are certain a baby is coming and you prepare yourself. Also, parents who adopt older children have a much harder time bonding with them, and children who are older when they are adopted have a harder time attaching to their new parents. There is a trust that has to be built slowly between them that cannot happen overnight the way it can with a newborn.

But, as far as my love for my youngest son. There is truly no difference between him and my other three. And other than catching myself looking in his face to see who he must look like in the family and then remembering he wasn't born biologically into it...there's no difference (you'd think that the darker skin would clue me in, but my husband and I have talked about it - except when we are intentionally noticing it - as a parent you truly do become color blind. What an amazing testimony about how God must feel about all of our different skin tones). He is my son, my precious one. I love him because he's my son, but I also love him because God used him to teach us some amazing things. God squeezed and pressed and disciplined us in the year leading up to his arrival in ways that were so difficult and refining. We both had to give up things that meant so much to us in order to pay for his adoption. Every penny spent became one that didn't go towards adopting him and we began to realize idols in our lives that had crept in with those expenditures. So, I love being Isaac's mommy not just because he's my son, but because God used him to bring me closer to him in ways I never would have dreamed of or imagined.

I love being a mommy to my children because it teaches me to be selfless in ways that I could never have been otherwise. I am a naturally very independent person, and I am much more likely to give you the advice of pick yourself up and get on with it than I am to give you sympathy, so God uses the current ages of my children to remind me to have a heart of service. And who couldn't love it when you hear your 2 year old singing almost every word to "Mighty to Save." And I love hearing my eldest three dying laughing in their room at night (currently they are sharing a bedroom because Mommy and Daddy and Isaac are sharing the only other one available - the joys of moving :)). And I love watching Kathleen learning how to be a Mommy by taking care of Isaac in her own little one year old way. And I love watching them tear off towards the door when Daddy comes in. And I love my sweet Karissa's cuddles. She's a mommy's girl if I ever saw one. If you're looking for her, just look two feet away from me, and she'll be copying my every move :). Being a mom to my four is easy in that they are almost in the same stage. They discover things together. Oh, how I love my kids. I can't believe how precious they are, how they've taught me so many things, and turned my life into utter blissful chaos. I love it. Yes, others might call us crazy, but we love it - and it's just what God had for our family. There are moments of being overwhelmed, but in general I just remember - "this too shall pass" (thank you Suzi Brummett for those words of wisdom about having twins). The stressors of the moment pale in comparison to the riches of the day. What a joy and a blessing being a mom is.


Terra Jones said...

Oh, Karen! It was SUCH a joy to see more pictures of your beautiful family!!! Isaac is so gorgeous! :)

I must admit, most mornings walking into church the same time as you, I was utterly amazed at your 'smoothness' with your kiddos and had to kick myself for complaining trying to get my two in the door alone (when Zach was playing, same days as Matt played!)

Thank you for sharing your story!

Leah said...

I love the picture of Josh with Isaac! Thank you for putting in writing your amazing testimony of faithfulness to God's calling on your life. I pray that your story will encourage and inspire many other moms as it has inspired me. Love you, dear friend!

Teesa said...

Thanks for sharing. I can't imagine what it would be like to adopt a newborn. We just adopted our little girl who was 18 months at the time, a little over two months ago. I agree with you - she is mine and I love her as much as I love my son (who is two). But, even more so, God has blessed me by understanding more about Him in the process and His unfailing and unconditional love.

Thanks again for sharing.

ChezDeshotels said...

I have one adopted one biological and I forget which is which. They are loved and treasured the same. Thank you so much for sharing your story it truly was a blessing


aje said...

Hi there, I was wondering if you could give some more details about your adoption process. I am assuming that it was a domestic adoption (is that what is called?). It seems that the process went somewhat quickly??? I think its great that you were able to get him so young, how sweet he is! I have had some cousins go through the process of international adoptions and know a bit more about that process.

Also, we are open to the idea of adoption someday (we are currently living in Central Asia which makes that very hard and the country we are living in has closed their adoptions). I'd love to hear about what was involved in your adoption process and so forth. Thanks for sharing your story!

Jen Edwards

The Lytle Family said...

Thank you so much for all your sweet comments! It's been such an encouragement. Jen, I'd love to share more about my adoption process with you. I actually did a blog specifically on that topic. The link is: http://www.lytles-adoption.blogspot.com/. Forgive me for not updating it since he's been home - I know - unforgivable - he's a month old now! But, I promise I will soon :).

Melissa Pearce said...

Wow! I totally admire you! I wonder do you have any advice on your kdis sharing a room? I have a little boy 17 months and a little girl almost 3 months... and I am thinking they will start sharing a bedroom in the next month or so.

Shannon Bradley said...

Karen, thanks so much! I could "hear" you the whole time I was reading this! I love what you said about "comfort". Such a battle, but the blessings win. Thank you so much for your post! :)

Teesa said...

I just read your blog and am amazed at the ups and downs you had to go through. Thanks again for sharing so openly.

The Lytle Family said...

Shannon, thanks so much! We miss you guys!

Teesa, I'm so glad it helped, and I'm a true believer in openness when it comes to obedience. It doesn't do anyone any good to make us sound like we've got it all together when we don't :). So, I'm glad you enjoyed it.

Melissa, my first advice is to start talking it up to your 17 month old. That's what I did with Josh. We talked and talked about it with him and how cool it was going to be. Also, make sure your oldest understands that he will be the protector. Boys take this role very seriously. That means, if something's wrong, he needs to be the one to let Mommy and Daddy know. That way he has a special role in the room. Make sure he knows though that his role is to let you know, not to take care of it himself. Also, make sure they are on similar schedules before you start this, and I wouldn't recommend naps together - just evenings if you can. My kids take the same afternoon nap time, but my son sleeps for his nap in another room. Everyone just gets better naps that way - so he gets to have the special privilege of sleeping on Mom and Dad's bed for that one. Also, I doubt your oldest is able to do this, but something really helpful for us is that Josh could open doors. This may sound like a negative, but it's really not. It means, he's not in there whining for me to come get him when he wakes up, he leaves the room and if they need to sleep longer, they can. I hope that helps! I'd definitely wait another few months, there's almost something "magical" that happens at 18 months where a light bulb comes on in their little minds and they start actually understanding so much more. Hope that helps!

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