01 02 03 The Dayton Houghs: Being a good example... 04 05 15 16 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 31 32 33

Being a good example...

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As the mother of a "mega-family," I feel as if I have a responsibility to be a good example of what a mother should be. It's not that having 9 children makes me more qualified, it's just that it makes it very difficult to remain inconspicuous. We are kind of like a circus sideshow pretty much everywhere that we go. Church is the prime example of this. Regardless of how early we arrive at church or how much we try to just "slip in," it NEVER happens. We burst through the doors with a subtlety somewhat reminiscent of a bull in a china shop. My Big kids each helping by holding the hand of a little one or carrying a diaper bag. The middle kids bump and bang into each other as they race to the Holy Water font, to get a much needed blessing. This is all going on while I am trying to quietly shush them and scout seats for the 11 of us...no easy feat. Trust me. We can fit somewhat comfortably in about 9 seats, and have actually managed to squeeze into 7 if necessary. This is all going on while my partner in crime, my hubby, parks the car. People look at us and smile (usually) somewhat entertained by the chaos that surrounds my family. I really don't know because I am trying to take everyone's coats off and get the little ones settled before mass begins. Brian manages to squeeze into our row and immediately takes Aiden. God bless this man. Aiden is, hands down, our most difficult, busy and noisy toddler. Every mass, Brian holds/wrestles him, trying in vain to keep him quiet. I have Jonathan duty. This is getting progressively more difficult now that he has entered the "Listen to all of the cool and extremely loud noises that I can make!" phase. He just grins and smiles and growls and squeals. What am I going to do? Duct tape is frowned upon as a parenting tool, particularly on a 10 month old. ...I just plaster on a smile and pray...a lot! Noah requires constant monitoring as well. He can sense a weakness and knows that we are vulnerable. For the most part he is ok, but he definitely pushes the envelope.  As Brian and I battle the three littlest and most unpredictable of our family, we also have to keep an eye on the middles of the family. They are pretty good 80% of the time, but still require an occasional "look." You know what I mean. It could be a raised eyebrow or slight glare. Just enough to get the point across without looking like a prison warden. The oldest three are the second line of defense. They act as the bathroom chaperones and gatekeepers to the middles. They have, on several occasions, snagged a potential runaway. Thank God for blessing us with such helpful big kids!  Most Sundays, we manage to muddle through Mass with a few trips to the back to quiet the wee ones. We do what we have to. We try very hard to not be a distraction, unfortunately that isn't always the case. Last Sunday was a perfect example of that... Dj, Coley and Jake had stayed overnight at their Papa Hough and Nanny's house. Normally this would be a minor inconvenience, but not a huge deal. This Sunday, however, Brian was scheduled to be an Extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, which meant that he had to go to the front of the church behind the altar for a portion of the Mass. Normally, I would hand off Jonathan to one of the big kids and hold/battle Aiden while Brian served. Well, no big kids equals no extra hands. Up to this point Aiden was actually being rather cooperative. I saw a glimmer of hope that maybe it wouldn't be that bad and I would be able to handle all three littles by myself.  That hope was crushed almost immediately. The second I thought it, Aiden looked at me and saw a weakness. He decided that he would at that moment start fussing and talking loudly. I grabbed him by the hand and lead/dragged him to the back of the church.  I need to explain something here. Our church has no cryroom/nursery. Under normal circumstances I don't mind. We just take the kids to the back until they quiet down and then we go back in and slip back into our seats. With the Christmas season, came beautiful decorations like the big Christmas tree in the vestibule. With the big tree came the inability to close the doors to the gathering space. Not good. As Jonathan, Aiden and I made our way to the back of the church, I was holding very tightly to both boys who were trying to escape. We stood in the back for a minute or so with little incident other than some squirming.  Aiden was standing quietly so I had loosened my death grip on his hand. And then it all took a turn for the worse. Jonathan's nose started to run. (And I mean run in a "two snot worms making there way out of his nose and heading straight for his mouth" kind of way. YUCK!!!) I let go of Aiden's hand for approximately 7 seconds as I wiped Jonathan's nose. HUGE mistake!!! He realized that he was free and immediately started to run into the church. I started after him, but I was handicapped. Not only was I carrying Jonathan, but I had worn my high-heeled sassy shoes. Not ideal for toddler chasing. ( I have no idea why I thought they were a good shoe choice. That won't happen again, I promise!)  I was trying to quietly call to him, begging him to stop and come back but he looked at me grinned and yelled, "Ha ha mommy!!! Can't get me!" Seriously!??! I was trying to catch him without being a huge disruption, because this was all taking place at a very reverent, very quiet part of the mass. He ran around the back of the seats to the front of the church and then ran right in front of the altar! I wanted to die right then and there. I looked at Brian and we shared a horrified helpless glance. It seemed as if the entire church was looking at us and thinking, "They are in trouble!" No matter what I would have done, it would have had a bad ending. Aiden kept looking at me and which ever way I started to go, he ran the other way. I was so embarrassed and quite frankly, helpless! Aiden started to run to the back of the church and a kind sweet gentleman scooped him up and carried him to the back of the church  for me. I was so relieved. Once I got back there, I grabbed Aiden's hand and this time, I didn't care what came crawling out of Jonathan's nose, I wasn't letting go. That is when I heard it, the voice of an angel. Lizzy, the daughter of my dear friend Amy, said "Nicole, do you want me to hold Jonathan?" Reinforcements  had arrived!!  I handed her Jonathan and I picked up Aiden and that was how we stayed until the end of mass. I wanted to crawl under the chairs and disappear, but that was not an option. With my head held high, I walked back into the main part of the church to gather up the rest of the kids and wait for Brian so that we could go home. I was so embarrassed but I was trying to smile because when you get down to it, it is what it is. And what it is, or what Aiden is, is a two year old little boy. He is trying to learn how to behave in church. Well, maybe he isn't trying to learn, but we are trying to teach him nonetheless. We are not a small family that can go unnoticed as we quietly slip in and out of church. We are a family full of kids trying to figure out where they fit in our church family. They are trying to figure out what is expected of them and how they are supposed to act. We still have some work to do, obviously, but we are making progress. They seem to have the basics down. They love Jesus and they love God. That is the important thing. We are working out the kinks. As I sat there struggling to get the kids' coats on them, a lady from church came up to me and smiled. I forced a smile and said, "Todays' entertainment is brought to you courtesy of the Hough family?!" "Don't you worry about it!" she said. "It was fine. He is so cute!"  Our kids are comfortable in church, perhaps too comfortable. But Church isn't a foreign place to them. It is a familiar place where we are surrounded by friends, where we are loved. Thankfully! I guess that I need to worry a little bit less about trying to be the perfect mother with perfectly behaved children. That is not who any of us are. We are flawed and noisy and disruptive and chaotic. We are also blessed in abundance with healthy, active, smart and loving children. And while I am sorry that we are sometimes disruptive at church, I will not apologize for our large family. We may not be an example of a perfectly behaved family, but we are an example of a family that tries to be open to God's will for us. Sometimes that comes with lessons in humility and trust. These are lessons that we all must learn, sometimes in front of our entire church!
35 36 37 38 The Dayton Houghs: Being a good example...

Monday, January 9, 2012

Being a good example...

As the mother of a "mega-family," I feel as if I have a responsibility to be a good example of what a mother should be. It's not that having 9 children makes me more qualified, it's just that it makes it very difficult to remain inconspicuous. We are kind of like a circus sideshow pretty much everywhere that we go. Church is the prime example of this. Regardless of how early we arrive at church or how much we try to just "slip in," it NEVER happens. We burst through the doors with a subtlety somewhat reminiscent of a bull in a china shop. My Big kids each helping by holding the hand of a little one or carrying a diaper bag. The middle kids bump and bang into each other as they race to the Holy Water font, to get a much needed blessing. This is all going on while I am trying to quietly shush them and scout seats for the 11 of us...no easy feat. Trust me. We can fit somewhat comfortably in about 9 seats, and have actually managed to squeeze into 7 if necessary. This is all going on while my partner in crime, my hubby, parks the car. People look at us and smile (usually) somewhat entertained by the chaos that surrounds my family. I really don't know because I am trying to take everyone's coats off and get the little ones settled before mass begins. Brian manages to squeeze into our row and immediately takes Aiden. God bless this man. Aiden is, hands down, our most difficult, busy and noisy toddler. Every mass, Brian holds/wrestles him, trying in vain to keep him quiet. I have Jonathan duty. This is getting progressively more difficult now that he has entered the "Listen to all of the cool and extremely loud noises that I can make!" phase. He just grins and smiles and growls and squeals. What am I going to do? Duct tape is frowned upon as a parenting tool, particularly on a 10 month old. ...I just plaster on a smile and pray...a lot! Noah requires constant monitoring as well. He can sense a weakness and knows that we are vulnerable. For the most part he is ok, but he definitely pushes the envelope.  As Brian and I battle the three littlest and most unpredictable of our family, we also have to keep an eye on the middles of the family. They are pretty good 80% of the time, but still require an occasional "look." You know what I mean. It could be a raised eyebrow or slight glare. Just enough to get the point across without looking like a prison warden. The oldest three are the second line of defense. They act as the bathroom chaperones and gatekeepers to the middles. They have, on several occasions, snagged a potential runaway. Thank God for blessing us with such helpful big kids!  Most Sundays, we manage to muddle through Mass with a few trips to the back to quiet the wee ones. We do what we have to. We try very hard to not be a distraction, unfortunately that isn't always the case. Last Sunday was a perfect example of that... Dj, Coley and Jake had stayed overnight at their Papa Hough and Nanny's house. Normally this would be a minor inconvenience, but not a huge deal. This Sunday, however, Brian was scheduled to be an Extraordinary minister of the Eucharist, which meant that he had to go to the front of the church behind the altar for a portion of the Mass. Normally, I would hand off Jonathan to one of the big kids and hold/battle Aiden while Brian served. Well, no big kids equals no extra hands. Up to this point Aiden was actually being rather cooperative. I saw a glimmer of hope that maybe it wouldn't be that bad and I would be able to handle all three littles by myself.  That hope was crushed almost immediately. The second I thought it, Aiden looked at me and saw a weakness. He decided that he would at that moment start fussing and talking loudly. I grabbed him by the hand and lead/dragged him to the back of the church.  I need to explain something here. Our church has no cryroom/nursery. Under normal circumstances I don't mind. We just take the kids to the back until they quiet down and then we go back in and slip back into our seats. With the Christmas season, came beautiful decorations like the big Christmas tree in the vestibule. With the big tree came the inability to close the doors to the gathering space. Not good. As Jonathan, Aiden and I made our way to the back of the church, I was holding very tightly to both boys who were trying to escape. We stood in the back for a minute or so with little incident other than some squirming.  Aiden was standing quietly so I had loosened my death grip on his hand. And then it all took a turn for the worse. Jonathan's nose started to run. (And I mean run in a "two snot worms making there way out of his nose and heading straight for his mouth" kind of way. YUCK!!!) I let go of Aiden's hand for approximately 7 seconds as I wiped Jonathan's nose. HUGE mistake!!! He realized that he was free and immediately started to run into the church. I started after him, but I was handicapped. Not only was I carrying Jonathan, but I had worn my high-heeled sassy shoes. Not ideal for toddler chasing. ( I have no idea why I thought they were a good shoe choice. That won't happen again, I promise!)  I was trying to quietly call to him, begging him to stop and come back but he looked at me grinned and yelled, "Ha ha mommy!!! Can't get me!" Seriously!??! I was trying to catch him without being a huge disruption, because this was all taking place at a very reverent, very quiet part of the mass. He ran around the back of the seats to the front of the church and then ran right in front of the altar! I wanted to die right then and there. I looked at Brian and we shared a horrified helpless glance. It seemed as if the entire church was looking at us and thinking, "They are in trouble!" No matter what I would have done, it would have had a bad ending. Aiden kept looking at me and which ever way I started to go, he ran the other way. I was so embarrassed and quite frankly, helpless! Aiden started to run to the back of the church and a kind sweet gentleman scooped him up and carried him to the back of the church  for me. I was so relieved. Once I got back there, I grabbed Aiden's hand and this time, I didn't care what came crawling out of Jonathan's nose, I wasn't letting go. That is when I heard it, the voice of an angel. Lizzy, the daughter of my dear friend Amy, said "Nicole, do you want me to hold Jonathan?" Reinforcements  had arrived!!  I handed her Jonathan and I picked up Aiden and that was how we stayed until the end of mass. I wanted to crawl under the chairs and disappear, but that was not an option. With my head held high, I walked back into the main part of the church to gather up the rest of the kids and wait for Brian so that we could go home. I was so embarrassed but I was trying to smile because when you get down to it, it is what it is. And what it is, or what Aiden is, is a two year old little boy. He is trying to learn how to behave in church. Well, maybe he isn't trying to learn, but we are trying to teach him nonetheless. We are not a small family that can go unnoticed as we quietly slip in and out of church. We are a family full of kids trying to figure out where they fit in our church family. They are trying to figure out what is expected of them and how they are supposed to act. We still have some work to do, obviously, but we are making progress. They seem to have the basics down. They love Jesus and they love God. That is the important thing. We are working out the kinks. As I sat there struggling to get the kids' coats on them, a lady from church came up to me and smiled. I forced a smile and said, "Todays' entertainment is brought to you courtesy of the Hough family?!" "Don't you worry about it!" she said. "It was fine. He is so cute!"  Our kids are comfortable in church, perhaps too comfortable. But Church isn't a foreign place to them. It is a familiar place where we are surrounded by friends, where we are loved. Thankfully! I guess that I need to worry a little bit less about trying to be the perfect mother with perfectly behaved children. That is not who any of us are. We are flawed and noisy and disruptive and chaotic. We are also blessed in abundance with healthy, active, smart and loving children. And while I am sorry that we are sometimes disruptive at church, I will not apologize for our large family. We may not be an example of a perfectly behaved family, but we are an example of a family that tries to be open to God's will for us. Sometimes that comes with lessons in humility and trust. These are lessons that we all must learn, sometimes in front of our entire church!

3 Comments:

At January 9, 2012 at 9:17 PM , Blogger Lori said...

You are a WONDERFUL example, and don't you ever forget it! And we always knew Lizzie was an angel (as is her mom) - this is just more evidence to prove so. I SO love our parish, love our friends, and we all LOVE all of you!!!

 
At January 10, 2012 at 8:48 AM , Blogger Mr. & Mrs. DeMatteo said...

I agree- you all are a wonderful example! I only pray that I'll have control over whatever amount of children God gives us. Sometimes, a little distraction/entertainment is needed in church. It keeps us all from just going through the motions and perhaps, realize why we're there in the first place. =) Whatever you're doing- it's working! <3

 
At January 10, 2012 at 3:02 PM , Blogger Amy said...

We will be your reinforcements anytime. Love you guys and love your kids.

 

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