(This is from a Women’s Conference that I was asked to speak at. We were focused on this talk about The Joys Of Motherhood. There were 3 moms, one with young children, one with children who had grown and me- in between and also a mom with “special” kids. I realize the P.O.O. acronym is super mature but my kids got a kick out of it ;).)

I come from a family of 14, I am the 5th of 12 kids. I graduated from college but really I just always wanted to be a mom. When I had my 3rd child Jack I honestly thought, despite the normal ups and downs of motherhood, “I got this”. Silly me. I should have been more humble. Now when I look at this family photo I just think “ohhhh that was BEFORE.”

My 4th sweet baby Ben came along with many unexpected medical problems and came home with a trach and a g-tube and everything that goes along with that, and then 18 months later our big boy Ty came along with many of the same issues.

Now most of you do not have “Special Needs Children” but all of you have children with their own special needs. All of us have or will wonder “am I doing enough? Is each child getting the attention, love, feedback, discipline they need? And when one needs more time and attention are the others suffering?”

The first thing I want to point out is that I believe nothing I have ever done, or ever will do, will have more influence on generations to come, or bring me more joy, than being a mom. And no class, no book… nothing will teach us more about ourselves, about love, patience, empathy, self-discipline (the list goes on) than being a mom.

When I was asked to speak about “how I balance the needs of each individual child with the needs of the other children…and the needs of the family as a whole” I tried to narrow it down to 3 points that help me.

Perfect Time- Heavenly Father sent ME this child at THIS time- he knew what order my kids would come in and what their needs would be. I am the Perfect Mom for my kids (although it doesn’t always feel that way! ) Heavenly Father did not send us the children we got by mistake. He knew where they would be in our family order, He knew exactly what would be going on in our lives. (I had a lot of concerns about my son Jack who was 3 when Ben was born, did I neglect my baby? Yet he is the best middle child ever- like glue between the bigs and the littles.)

One True Love
Mia Angelou said “Your face should light up when your child walks in the room.” That struck me and I have taken it to heart. This is something I truly live by. Every time they walk into the room be glad to see them before anything else. EVERYTIME. That covers a lot- that means you acknowledge them for even a second- you are shooting love blasts at them- even for just a second. Sometimes my mom brain goes into auto mode and I want to just start reminding them to do their chores/homework/wash their hands or WHATEVER. Being glad to see them before you get into all that reminds them that you noticed they were gone! That you are glad they are back. (for littles that may mean they were just out of the room- Ty is sure I missed him so much every time he goes in the playroom 🙂 ) I have this quote in my Family Room-

it’s true and I want them to know it. Each one of my kids knows they are my very favorite.:)

Open your ears.
It may drive you nuts sometimes to get the play by play of what happened as they built their Minecraft world or what happened on the latest episode of Ninjago over and over. (That was with Child #1, with #2 its every single “super cute” quote or picture on Instagram, with #3 its the play by play of the soccer game…. etc.) But be interested, because if you don’t build the habit now it will be too late when they are older. We have all heard the talks about how important it is to be there at the cross roads, for little kids there are a lot of cross roads as they go between activities. As your kids get older there will be fewer and fewer but they want to know you are there and those are the times they will have the most to say to you. LISTEN! The tables are going to turn. They are going to grow up and get interested in their friends and all the many other things going on and if they are not in the habit of talking with you, it wont start then. I LOVE that my 15 year old still wants me to watch every video he makes and tells me the whole plot of the final two seasons of Super Natural or wants to know what was the most scary experience in my childhood.

So there you have it- POO. (My 15 year old is cracking up.)
One final comment. The times I go the most nuts and am the most annoyed with my kids is when I have taken on too much that has nothing to do with them. They need to be my first most important job- everything else should be ready to be thrown on the back burner. (Literally, those cakes!!!) When they are little it is your window- its cliche but they really do just grow up so fast. All of a sudden my kids are big and I just want to slam on the brakes!