Husband & Wife Articles


Mother Load

The absolutely amazing life of mom-plus-seven

By Maryan Vander Woude

The last time I wrote for this Husband & Wife column, back in March, I was pregnant with our seventh child. Now that Baby Jimmy has arrived (May 1), life should be getting back to normal. But guess what … it isn’t.

You’re probably not surprised.

Vander Woude Family

Babies are adorable, cute and smiley bundles of goodness, but not convenient, self-feeding, self-cleaning little persons. Eighteen-month-old siblings fall in the same category. Then add five older brothers topping out at age 11, and … did I mention that in addition to our seven wonderful blessings, we also have a hobby farm with 20 chickens, two pigs, five goats, and four cows?

What does it all add up to?

The Mother Load.

I hit the jackpot!

And when you hit the Mother Load, dull will never describe your life. In fact, your life is quite amazing in all kinds of ways.

Let’s take, for example, yesterday. My husband is taking a shower; I’m nursing the baby; the boys are doing their morning chores; and the toddler? It always amazes me that toddlers know when to try a new trick, when no one else is looking. Little Miss Helpful finds the washed chicken eggs set out to go into the fridge and tries to put them away, but, in effect, does a re-enactment of Humpty Dumpty on our vinyl floor. Crack! Crack! Crack! A dozen Humpty Dumpty look-alikes and not even one king’s horse or man to try to put them back together again. Visually measuring the mess, all I could hope was that Omega-3 fatty acids are as good for vinyl floors as they are for our bodies. Amazing.

There are more things that amaze me with my mother load.

How is it that with 11 years of diaper changing under my belt, in my sleep-deprived state I can make a beginner’s mistake by leaving the house without diapers or wipes? Amazing. Fortunately, when you have scored the Mother Load, you can’t be bothered with things like cleaning out the car, and I found a spare diaper under a seat. As for the wipes, well, thankfully, most restrooms are stocked with paper towels and a faucet.

Fortunately, there is another kind of amazing that happens, too.

After Baby Jimmy was born, we had a doctor’s appointment, and all except daddy went. Often when mom-and-seven travel, we hear stories from people who come from large families. However, in that office, there was one woman who was watching us with a facial expression that said she had never seen the likes of us. At first I misinterpreted her gaze directed at my boys and assumed that one of them must have ketchup smeared all over his face. I double checked. Nope. All faces clean. She must have realized that I spied her staring, so she asked the question on her mind: “Are they always this nice to each other?”

I have to admit that she caught me off guard.

Usually the questions are: “Are they all yours?” or “Six boys?” or “Only one girl?” (Those are the polite comments.) But no one has asked me if they are always nice to each other. I chuckled a bit and gave her the honest answer.


But as I looked down my little occupied row of cushioned waiting-room chairs, I had to admit they were a sight to behold. Brothers snuggled together helping each other read, or patiently feeding their sister Cheerios, and each begging to pleeeease hold Baby Jimmy. Right then and there we looked like the poster children for “Large Families Everywhere” rather than for “Chaotic Egg Busters of the World.” The woman declared, “I just am enjoying watching them interact with each other. I’m amazed.”

Amazed. I spend my days being amazed. I walk into my laundry room and see the pile, and I am amazed. I see the front door left wide open with the heat of summer blasting in. And I am amazed. I actually use that line: “I walked into the bathroom, and was amazed. You left all your clothes right where you took them off.”

However, I don’t think that’s the amazement God has in mind for me. It’s easy for me to dwell on the obvious. Of course, the laundry pile is huge. Of course, we ate all the food in the pantry again. Of course, the baby’s diaper needs to be changed right as we’re going out the door. That’s not amazing.

Our Lord wants me to be like the Waiting-Room Woman. At least once in my day, I know God wants me to sit back and be amazed by all his grace and all their goodness.

And truly thank him that he saw fit to trust me with the Mother Load.

Maryan Vander Woude lives in Virginia with husband Dan and their seven children, and blogs about their adventures at A Lee in the Woudes.