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I just finished this sweater for Hope.  When she tried it on for the first time, Tess immediately asked when I would make her a new hoodie.  Daniel chimed in, claiming that it should be his turn soon.  My big boys have both grown out of their latest pullovers, and I haven't made even one for Anne yet. 

When I was pregnant with James, I worried that I wouldn't have the capacity to love this new baby with the intensity and devotion I felt for Christian.  I shouldn't have; my heart expanded so that there was plenty of room for both boys, and it has done so every time we've had a child.

But my time has not expanded.  I have six children who are ages 16 years to 20 months.  I manage both acne breakouts and toxic diapers.  I field requests for Prom tickets and Pokemon.  I chauffeur people to toddler dance classes and SAT prep sessions.  After school on any given day, I may be reading board books aloud, coaching on phonics, drilling the multiplication tables, and quizzing on the Pythagorean theorem or the causes of the Crimean War--all while baking bread from flour I grind myself and cooking dinner for eight.  (And let's not even mention my writing, my church work, and my very deserving husband.)  Giving each of my children the time, attention, and concrete expressions of love they need is an Olympic-class balancing act.

And many days, I feel less than Olympian.  I work hard to reject feelings of inadequacy, but sometimes they overwhelm me.  I'm not asking for answers or advice; my life is great, and mostly I make it all work.  I do so by taking things one step at a time, and sometimes the steps are tiny, indeed.

Here's the beginning of Tess's new sweater.  We picked the colors out of my stash, and this pattern should go pretty quickly.  Then I'll move onto Daniel and Anne, and hopefully by summer, I'll be making some big boy pullovers for Christian and James as well.  It's one eternal round, and I wouldn't have it any other way.

Reader Comments (18)

I've two less and they are younger than yours. I can see why things might occasionally get overwhelming for you. Goodonya for having a wonderful life.

And I love the sweater. It's the prefect color. And Tess's looks like it's going to be darling. I never did completely get the hang of knitting. I crochet occasionally when the mood strikes, but it's mostly quilting at my house.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterEowyn


This is why I refuse to learn yarn skills.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTh.

My kids are older than yours, but I am so in this reflection mode right now. Whenever I sit down to write, my first thoughts are of my family and how it is morphing into something different right now. My adjustments. Their adjustments. It takes over, it keeps going, and I wouldn't have it any other way either. Thanks so much.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKazzy

I am really good at crochet but knitting escapes me. It's because I'm not able to consistently practice and it's a long time between demos so I forget everything again. Someday I'll learn, though.

We'll probably have one more child and end up with a thirteen year spread between first and last. I think at that point, my life will sound a lot like yours. Except for the grinding my own flour part.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMelanie J

You ARE Olympian! I see you as Athena, really.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSome Guy

We have a 17 year old down to a 3 year old (only 5, though). God bless you! I don't know how you do it, but it is wonderful that you realize it's wonderful.

March 19, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBraden

It is a beautiful thing to appreciate the stage of life we are in - you are "in the trenches" right now, and I am along with you (ages 17 - 3)! What a wonderful gift to knit for your children! They will cherish the sweaters! Tucked away in a box of precious items, are 3 sweaters my mom knit for me as a child/teen, I am going to get them out right now. She raised 8 children, and I always felt enveloped in her love when I would wear a sweater that she made just for me! Now I find myself overwhelmed as you do, and wow, my admiration for "hands on" moms has grown exponentially!! Those treasured sweaters have become, to me, a tangible symbol of my mother's personalized love for each of her children. Thanks for reminding me, and rest assured, that your children will have the same fond feelings toward you. Keep up the good work!

March 20, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNanette Mecham

Now I'm itching to knit again. It's been a little too long. And I feel a bit more of a nudge to balance my own life a bit better.

March 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAnnette

I keep the hat you made me up high on a shelf in my bedroom so the girls don't comandeer it for their dress up box. It is one of my treasures that I simply and selfishly refuse to share.

Here's to those tiny steps that keep us sane and moving forward. Oh how we need them.

March 21, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKimberly

I know you aren't looking for me to say this but you are one of my personal heroines.

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterHeidi Ashworth

If I send you some steel wool, will you knit me a car?

March 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRyan

"One eternal round" -- fits perfectly with the picture of the partially knitted sweater.

You are one Olympic mother, indeed! And I didn't realize your kids spanned ages 20 mo to 16 yrs! You deserve a medal, girl. Or at least a weekend getaway at a writer's conference, right? :)

March 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTerresa Wellborn

First of all, look at how lovely and grown up Miss Hope is becoming! My, my! Nice sweater, too. :)

Your life sounds so much like mine. In fact, often when I am reading board books and answering questions about cell structure in between pages, I think of you, across the country, doing the same thing I am, and it lifts my spirits. You have a way of reminding me that all the work really matters.

March 26, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJenna Consolo

While my children's ages do not span yours, I can relate in many ways to the great demands on one's time that so many children take. What I especially admire about you is that I see that each of your children clearly feel your love for them. And you have developed a special relationship with each. I think it is pretty amazing how you do manage the range of needs with grace and without losing your mind. (I'm working on the not losing my mind part in my house.)

Lovely sweater. Can't wait to see Tess in her new sweater too.

April 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTiffany

Teach me to knit?

April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara


April 13, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterBarbara

If you aren't an Olympian I don't know who is!!!!

May 9, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDebra Levin

When I first saw this photo, I thought it was you. She looks just like you at that age. Your daughter has that same beautiful skin you had (have).

June 22, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterKMP

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