So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

As I took the first ornament down off the Christmas tree, our 6-year-old son stuck his head up between my arms, looked at me, and said, “What are you doing?” When I stated the obvious (because, apparently, the four giant tissue paper-filled Rubbermaid containers hadn’t tipped him off), he insisted on a final family photo in front of the rapidly disintegrating Frasier Fir.

I sighed, relented, and made the super popular mom move of yelling for everyone to drop their “it’s the weekend and we’re lounging with electronics and Netflix” activities to come to the living room. He explained what he wanted to his siblings and they begrudgingly plopped onto the needle-covered wood floors. And we took the picture.

I Instagrammed it and uploaded it to Facebook, this snapshot in time where the scowling 11-year-old is the only one looking at the camera, and the baby is playing with an old iPhone, and the 2-year-old has her bottle of milk tipped back sky high, and the 5-year-old is smiling at the 6-year-old who started the whole thing. Brothers and sisters. A cluster of big, distinct personalities whose only connection is that my husband, Brad, and I created and forced them together under a single, relatively tiny roof.

I’ve thought about that photo a hundred times over the last several days. As an only child, the thing I’ve always found most interesting about these kids (and probably one of the reasons we continued to have more of them when three…and then four…were, in the moment, enough) is their relationships with each another. It fascinates me, watching them. I wonder what it must be like, to have people close to your age who live in your house and share your mom and dad and have never known the world, in any significant way, without you.

People who share your story.

For most of my life, I never minded not having siblings. My parents, for all of their flaws as a couple, were, when things were good, active and fun. Growing up, it was the three of us in the car and spending the day running errands and going out to dinner. When I was bored, I’d drag a friend along, but much of the time I was fine with just them. Though I didn’t necessarily realize it in the moment, we had the kind of inside jokes and memories that, as much as I’m capable of understanding, parallel those you have from spending hours on a road trip with your brother or nights across the supper table from your sister. Stuff that only the three of us could recollect and corroborate and debate the details about.

When they divorced after 30 years, that triangle—of which I had, it finally occurred to me, been the base and connecting point for much of their marriage—cracked. Suddenly there were a lot of stories nobody was comfortable telling anymore, things they no longer saw the humor in. Brad had been witness to just enough over a decade to be able to nod and smile and occasionally play my parents’ role in whatever memories randomly popped in my head, making it a little less lonely, but never the same.

Once mom became sick and died a short time later, 1/3 of whatever broken pieces of our family remained were gone for good, and without her recollections, much of the stuff I thought I knew from my childhood started to feel like a dream.

And, so, at age 34, for the first time in my life, I wished I had a sibling, someone to turn to and say, “Hey, remember when…?” and have them laugh and roll their eyes and give a “Yeah, what the hell was that all about?” look in response.

I’m jealous of our five, in that respect. They’ll have each other to turn to. They’ll never forget or question or wonder. They’ll remember the big stuff, of course (the cross-country drive through the steaming desert in June, the basement flooding so often that dad started to twitch every April, the year the Christmas tree fell over and mom blamed the dog) but, more importantly, they’ll remember the everyday stuff.

They’ll remember that dad constantly lost his keys (and his phone…and his wallet) and it drove mom crazy that dad constantly lost his keys (and his phone…and his wallet).

They’ll remember the chaos of shoving seven people in a kitchen made for two.

They’ll remember that there were always gummy bears in the van and strong coffee in the coffee pot and Coke (next to the beer) in the fridge.

They’ll remember every single idiosyncrasy every single one of them had and, God willing, remind them of it until they’re 80.

They’ll always have the good fortune of sharing a lifelong story with people who are a little bit of mom and dad and a little bit of each other and the only ones in the whole world who could ever understand what it meant to grow up around this place (and, why, quite possibly, you’re in therapy).

I wouldn’t trade my childhood, not for a second. But I know what I know. And I know that if my children believing nothing else I have to say, I hope they believe this: You are each other’s historians, part of an exclusive tribe, and incredibly lucky. Stick together, kids. You’ll never regret it.

Jessica Rettig

Jessica Rettig lives, works and, after years of being told to do so (she has a sneaking suspicion it was to make other parents feel better about their own chaos), documents daily life (at Facebook.com/fivelittlelunatics) with her husband, Brad, five kids—Keaton Amelia (11), Hutton (6), Rustyn (5), Joey Michele (2) and the baby, Roosevelt-- and emotionally-challenged Weimaraner in Lincoln, Nebraska. She also tries to run away on a daily basis--usually four or five miles--but she always comes back.

To The Mother Who Is Overwhelmed

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Tired woman with coffee sitting at table

I have this one head. It is a normal sized head. It didn’t get bigger because I had children. Just like I didn’t grow an extra arm with the birth of each child. I mean, while that would be nice, it’s just not the case. We keep our one self. And the children we add on each add on to our weight in this life. And the head didn’t grow more heads because we become a wife to someone. Or a boss to someone. We carry the weight of motherhood. The decisions we must make each day—fight the shorts battle...

Keep Reading

To the Mother of My Son’s Future Wife

In: Grown Children, Inspiration, Kids, Marriage, Motherhood, Relationships
marriage, wife, husband, grown children, www.herviewfromhome.com

To the mother of my son’s future wife, I’m in the midst of dirty diapers and temper tantrums, but I do have days where I think about the future and what it will look like for my son. I wonder who he will be, what he will do and probably most of all, who he will love. I wonder about the type of woman he will bring home to meet us one day. I have my own thoughts on the type of person I wish my son would fall in love with, but we all know that the heart wants...

Keep Reading

Trading Fleeting Moments of Fame for Unshakeable Faith

In: Faith, Inspiration, Relationships
Trading Fleeting Moments of Fame for Unshakeable Faith www.herviewfromhome.com

The string quartet began playing Pachelbel, as my dad and I took our first steps down the aisle. I began to lose my composure as we proceeded to the altar. Hundreds of guests had their eyes on me as tears streamed down my face. Struggling to look my future in the eyes, I looked to the ground for reprieve. God, everything around me looks perfect, so why doesn’t this feel right? I’m not sure how I got here. The flame once dancing inside of me, has extinguished. Lord, I need you. Dad squeezed my hand gently, “Are you OK sweetie?”...

Keep Reading

Children Don’t Get Easier, We Just Get Stronger

In: Inspiration, Mental Health, Motherhood
Children Don't Get Easier, We Just Get Stronger www.herviewfromhome.com

“This too shall pass.” As mothers, we cling to these words as we desperately hope to make it past whichever parenting stage currently holds us in its clutches. In the thick of newborn motherhood, through night wakings, constant nursing and finding our place in an unfamiliar world, we long for a future filled with more sleep and less crying. We can’t imagine any child or time being more difficult than right now. Then, a toddler bursts forth, a tornado of energy destroying everything in his wake. We hold our breath as he tests every possible limit and every inch of...

Keep Reading

This North Dakota Homecoming Queen is Capturing Hearts Everywhere

In: Inspiration, Kids, School, Teen
This North Dakota Homecoming Queen is Capturing Hearts Everywhere www.herviewfromhome.com

When Paula and Kevin Burckard’s third child was born, she arrived with a little something extra the North Dakota couple never saw coming.  Newborn Grace had Down syndrome, and the diagnosis initially left the young parents devastated. “When Grace was born, I thought all my dreams for my daughter had basically been dashed,” Paula said.  But it didn’t take long for those fears to subside.  As Grace grew, not only did she meet and surpass milestones, her infectious joy, inspirational grit, and deep love of all things Michael Jackson transformed the family—and countless hearts. The Burckhards went on to adopt...

Keep Reading

Dear Kids, When I Forget What It’s Like To Be Little

In: Child, Inspiration, Kids, Motherhood
Hey Mom, Don't Forget—You Were a Kid Once, Too www.herviewfromhome.com

The kids were squealing in the backseat. For the five minutes prior they were begging me to spill the beans on where we were going as I had only told them to get their shoes, get in the car and buckle up. It’s one of the ways I’ve learned to make a simple trip out of the house one that is a mysterious adventure to them. As we took left and right turns away from our house, they were trying to guess where we were going . . . and when we finally pulled up to a brand new playground...

Keep Reading

My Children Deserve To See the Whole Me, Not Just the Mom Me

In: Inspiration, Journal, Motherhood
My Children Deserve To See the Whole Me, Not Just the Mom Me www.herviewfromhome.com

Before I was a mother, I was a human being. A human being with life experiences, passions, fears, talents, hobbies, goals, friends and aspirations that I cherished and tried to honor. Even though I went through a variety of seasons of life . . . from school-age days, to working adult, to wife . . . those things always stayed with me. I stayed open to evolving, but never let go of who I inherently was. Then came motherhood. And suddenly I found myself abandoning my commitment to remain true to me, and leaving any semblance of myself in the...

Keep Reading

My Mother-in-Law’s Legacy: Simplicity

In: Inspiration, Journal
My Mother-in-Law's Legacy: Simplicity www.herviewfromhome.com

The memories of my mother-in-law spilled to the forefront of my mind, just as the contents of his jacket pocket fell onto our dresser. It was Proverbs 31, written on hotel stationery, in my neatest block print. Holding the small papers in my hand brought me right back to her graveside, on a hot summer morning, seven years ago. “Her children arise and call her blessed.” (verse 28) As my second daughter gave a mighty kick from the womb, visible to every mourner present that day, I couldn’t help but to allow my mind to wander. Were my values apparent...

Keep Reading

A Car Accident Left My Teenager Paralyzed—and Incredibly Fierce

In: Inspiration, Journal
A Car Accident Left My Teenager Paralyzed—and Incredibly Fierce www.herviewfromhome.com

I drove back from my son’s college concert near midnight. Exhausted, I glanced at my 14-year-old daughter, Beth, asleep in the passenger seat. We were only 10 minutes from home. I thought I could make it until I heard a road sign flatten on concrete. As the car flipped three times across a bare Ohio field, we left behind an ordinary life. I escaped with cuts, bruises, and blood-matted hair. Beth was another story. The car was cut open and a helicopter rushed her to Toledo. A doctor told my husband John that she was paralyzed. When John broke the news...

Keep Reading

Dear Mama, You’re Allowed To Not Be There

In: Inspiration, Motherhood
Dear Mama, You're Allowed To Not Be There www.herviewfromhome.com

Friday afternoon was not much crazier than most afternoons. My husband was mowing the lawn, my daughter was hangry and my youngest son was due to be in a talent show in twenty minutes. I stood in the kitchen—where it seemed like I’d been for an hour—trying to motivate my family to eat dinner and get ready to go. “Get dressed, Jude. Make sure you eat something.” “Dean, do you want a slice of pizza before we leave?” I screamed over the lawn mower. “Maeve, are you going to the optional soccer practice or the talent show? You need to...

Keep Reading