Motherhood can get a bit crazy at times. Learning from your own mother on how to raise children can be a blessing. Today, Christina Arceneaux, blogger at Laughing and Losing It, shares her experience with how to keep a smile when things get out of control.
MomViews: You come from a big family (17!), how was it like growing up?
Christina Arceneaux: I get asked this a lot. And my first response is — “It was normal.” I say this because it was normal for me. I didn’t know any different. I had so many siblings, and that’s just the way it was. Now that I have my own little family, and understand more clearly what it takes to raise a human being, I can honestly say IT WAS INSANE! The house was full of noise, messes, chaos, people, but always full of love.
MV: Are there any similarities and differences between your mother’s style of parenting and yours? If so, please explain.
I like to take my kids on outings quite a bit more than my mom did. Although, I don’t blame her, an outing with so many children was expensive and stressful. Other than this little thing, our parenting style is quite similar — don’t sweat the small stuff (spills and messes), but DO stress the important stuff (God, and hard work!)
MV: What role does your husband play in raising your three children?
CA: My husband is the Hero. He comes home from work and everyone runs to him screaming “Daddy!” He is the provider, protector, and rowdy-horse-play parent. I get burned out with horse-play sometimes, but he is always willing to throw a child around in a fun and exuberant manner! He is very organized and on top of things, and I am not. I wish I were, but one thing at a time. I admire him in so many ways.
MV: All your photos show you with a huge smile, almost saying, “I’m laughing and losing it,” how do you keep a smile when things get tough?
CA: It hasn’t always been this way. After my first daughter was born I basically shut down. I closed myself off, gained weight, and sort of stopped living. My baby girl was the perfect child — slept through the night by 5 weeks old, smiled and cooed like an angel. I would look at her and feel, “I don’t deserve you,” and wonder why God entrusted me with such an amazing gift when I was so flawed. Of course this situation had a name — Postpartum Depression. I felt so much guilt and anguish, and frankly waited too long to get help. Eventually I got better, allowed myself to feel again, opened myself to friendships and personal growth.
Sometimes it is through the darkest times that you better appreciate the light. Coming out of that experience in one piece taught me so much. Life is too short to settle for sad, to be unhappy, to wish you were somebody else. There is so much to be grateful for. Just the simple act of breathing is a gift. I believe that laughter is the best medicine. I am clumsy, disorganized, and sometimes down-right sloppy. When I have a super-fail I try to laugh. I am not perfect, I have so many flaws, but brooding and picking on myself doesn’t help. One step at a time, with a healthy dose of humor, makes achieving goals a lot more manageable.
In my opinion, the path to happiness can by summed in three simple words: God, Gratitude, and Laughter.
MV: What advice would you give to mothers who say “one child is enough” out of fear they’re too expensive?
Having children is a very personal decision. I would never tell anyone that they need to have a certain number of children. And you really have to WANT children–they are a lot of work, the little darlings. So if someone might not want more than one kid, then who am I to say they are wrong?
I would say this, however:
The years we have to bear children are finite. There are so many people in this world who have fought, sacrificed, tried, and failed to have children. It is a beautiful blessing. It would be a shame to look back and say, “I should have…” or “I could have…” Also, children don’t need to be as expensive as people say. I love to shop yard sales and second-hand. The kids don’t know, and they don’t care. And it is a beautiful gift to your child to experience a sibling relationship. It would be a shame to look back, after the child-bearing years have passed, and wonder what might have been.