In Which My Groove is Temporarily Thrown Off

by | Jan 17, 2014 | 7 Quick Takes, Catholic Mom TV Review, January, Parenting, Pop Culture | 22 comments

First things first, can you spare a moment to say a prayer for Bonnie’s son and Micaela’s friend?

And now for the quick takes . . . 

Heather sent me a link to an article that claims that the eldest children in big families are exploited by their neglectful parents as slave labor. She sent it with the completely understandable expectation that I would read it, and spring into a reasoned defense against the article’s assault on big families and the contributions of older children therein, along with a polite critique of the article’s poor grammar and nonexistent scientific research. (The data in support of the theory seems to have been gleaned from two people the author knows and some fictional television characters.)
Instead, the whole thing kinda gnawed at me. Obviously, the article is complete bunk. Poorly written bunk. But the comments made me so sad.

My kids SEEM happy, but they’re still pretty young. And here were people in the comments saying how they were taken advantage of and their childhoods were stolen from them.

For a moment, it threw off my groove.

watch it here (most underrated Disney movie!)
But thank God for those of you who follow the blog on Facebook and threw in your two cents.
You made all sorts of excellent points, like that the whole article was unsubstantiated nonsense (which it totally is). But even better were the comments of mothers of big families whose kids are grown and happy and people who grew up as the eldest children of a big family and are currently happy well adjusted human beings. 
Groove restored:

And thank goodness, because it would’ve been a big hassle to get rid of most of these kids.  And, really, they love their siblings, and BEG to be able to babysit! And even if they don’t love chores, they do appreciate being given real responsibilities and being actually useful, contributing members of our family.

I guess my concern all came down to a case of paying heed to the “Just wait until they . . . ” lady. I should know better than that.

Maybe she goes to your church too?

When you have a baby it’s, “Just wait until he’s a toddler.” Then it’s “Just wait until they’re all in school.” Now I get, “Just wait until they’re teenagers.”

by Daniel Armstrong (so good.)

And there’s not much to say to the “Just wait until they’re” lady, because she’s right, I’m NOT there now, so I DON’T know how it’s going to be.

But I’m pretty sure that it’s going to be really hard and also really awesome because that’s what ALL parts of parenting are.

Even more grooviness?

This very cute post by Julie Cole:

6 Reasons to Have 6 Kids

She is right, right, right, right, right, right. Offending article totally forgotten.

Okay, changing gears here . . . it is absolutely NOT hyperbole when I tell you that I think these are the most beautiful photographs I have ever seen in my life.

This one is my favorite:

No, wait, this one:

Aaaahhh he has a bunny <Kermit flail>:

They are all taken by a Russian woman of her two boys on their farm. She just recently took up photography. I think she should stick with it. See more here.

I was MAD at Downton Abbey after the season finale last season. It’s not the writer’s fault that two main characters (three actually) wanted to leave. But I hated how they handled Matthew’s death. Too shocking. Too gruesome. Too heartbreaking.

But I am not mad about Downton Abbey episode 2. It was shocking, of course. And terrible. But I don’t think it’s a subject that should be off limits. I enjoyed this interview with the actress who plays Anna:

I understood Anna’s reasons for not telling anyone. Usually a character’s reasons for keeping secrets seem pretty unbelievable to me. But I think she’s right about what Bates would do and what would happen to him as a result.

Let’s see how it all plays out . . . 

Speaking of unnecessarily shocking and gruesome season finales . . .

Sherlock is BACK! I know he’s not dead because I’ve read the book (and because . . . duh, he can’t be dead). But I have exactly no theories about how he pulls this one off. Appearing to have fallen off a cliff into a river unwitnessed but not actually having done so is considerably less complicated than leaping to one’s death complete with head-blood-on-the-sidewalk in full view of dozens of people, but not being dead.

Let’s see how THAT all plays out, shall we? . . .

I’m hoping my recent interview at Today Show Moms will qualify me for inclusion in the Wikipedia list of Notable Recluses. What do you think?

For more Quick Takes, visit Conversion Diary!


  1. Bonnie

    Those pictures – I KNOW! They are just gorgeous!
    And you seem to be a pretty sociable recluse, what with your backyard birthday parties and driving a few hours to bring gifts to a random woman you know only via the internet and all. 🙂

    • Kendra

      Can we start a new Wikipedia page for "Notable Sociable Recluses?" Who wants in?

  2. Lindsay Boever

    Nothing can shake the groove of a wonderful mother quicker than someone accusing them that they could possibly in some way be hurting their children. We just read grandfather's memoirs of his childhood. They were up at before 6:00 to do their chores. They slept three to a bed. They had a very happy home. His claim to fame is that he never missed a day of work in 56 years. 🙂 Everyone chipped in to the family to make it work. Our self -centered cultured has veered so far from the family unit that we would be accused of such non-sense. You are doing a perfect job!

    • Elizabeth

      I was thinking the same thing! I didn't type it out on FB only because I did not want to cause any pain to someone who has been in a highly dysfunctional family by implying that some kids need to "get over it". But some really do. We live in a culture that is telling our children that they need to be entirely carefree, that their parents owe them a fully paid college education, expensive electronics, that their "work" is "school" and nothing more, and that adolescence lasts until thirty. I suspect that some disillusioned and disgruntled adults bought the culture lie and feel their parents were unfair, when their parents were probably very reasonable. Heck, I dated an only child in high school who didn't know how to do laundry, make a snack, or even shop at a store when we went off to college because his mom did it all for him. There are pitfalls in families of all sizes, but too much of a carefree childhood can backfire. He was a brilliant guy, but floundered in all areas of life.

      Truly, there are those who have suffered at the hands of their families, and their pain is real. Kendra, I highly doubt your children will have that problem — You seem to have a loving, well-ordered, faithful home!

  3. Hafsa

    I like what you said about the latest episode of Downton Abbey. Yes shocking but understandable Anna's reaction to it.

  4. Theresa @ OrdinaryLovely

    Yes! and Yes! to 2 and 6.
    Re: No. 7 – congrats on the article interview! And those are some big name recluses – I can only hope to achieve such a status one day 🙂
    Happy weekend!

  5. Anonymous

    Have you read Haley's post on trying not to be the "just wait mom". She thinks you guys are polar opposite, which is some cases you are. But, now you have at least two things in common: 1. I love both of your blogs and 2. fear of being the "Just wait mom".

  6. Anonymous

    Also, I made the mistake of reading the comments on the "6 Reasons to have 6 kids" article. Don't do that. Some people make me so sad.

    • Kendra

      I didn't look at those comments, and after quick peek at the first comment on the Today post, I'm not going back over there either. I think it's important that big families are sometimes visible on mainstream media sites, but I don't think comboxes end up being a good place to get a polite discussion going.

    • ~A

      Man oh man. Lately I've been feeling like I can't read comments *anywhere!* A post on Facebook from the news station regarding bad weather? Seems pretty innocent? Well, it turned into a full-out word-brawl in about 20 minutes. Seriously, people. Makes me sad!

  7. Christy from fountains of home

    So as the oldest of five kids who did a lot of childcare/housework/cooking for the family at a young age but was still not enrolled in slave labor or anything, I'll say this: sure there were times when I was a petulant teenager where I felt like I was being used for my labor, but really it made me responsible and willing to participate in life and responsibility. Which are things that society does not want to let adolescents do at all. Until they're at least over 30. I do think it shaped my personality a little. As the oldest of a bunch of siblings I feel like I always have to get stuff done because no one else will, that I need to know what everyone else is doing, that I'm dare I say, bossy. But, now that I'm the mom of five kids that's pretty much my job requirements so I guess it's all worked out.

  8. Amelia Bentrup

    I think a little groove-shaking is good now and again. I think when we read or hear something that challenges our ideas or lifestyle or parenting it's always a good time to revaluate, and thoughtfully consider what we are doing.. While you obviously aren't going to get rid of any kids, it's always good to re-evaluate if we are asking too much or too little or our children..especially in the care of their younger siblings. I think there can be a few familes where older siblings do end up doing "too much" when it comes to care of their younger siblings. I don't think that happens in the majority of large families by any means, but it is something to at least be aware of.

    And, if after careful evaluation, you decide that the article is a load of bunk (which I do think this one is) and that your children aren't being asked to do too much, then you can go on your merry way.

    • Kendra

      Amelia, this is a really good point. I want to be forced to think about the things I believe, to make sure I DO still believe them. This time, I still do.

  9. Mrs. Amen

    My MIL was just visiting and commented on how we (meaning I) am raising my son (firstborn) to be so independent. He's 5 yo and she is shocked that he has to help set the table, clear his own plate, fill everyone's water glass, put his own clothes down the chute, help me pick up around the house, etc. nothing crazy. I mean, I did send him outside to help shovel snow after the big storm, but he was thrilled to help his dad and had a blast playing out there. She said how she raised her son, my DH, so differently. Either she or one of the maids did everything for him…and when she says everything, she is not exaggerating. I simply said, "it shows, thanks a lot." I love my husband, and he works very hard at his job, but basically does nothing around the house unforced. I will not let my kids be like that. And I am not the maid, I am the mom.

  10. Jessica Snell

    I think the both awesome AND hard thing is right on. Frankly, I've liked my kids at every age, and I don't see why that will change just because they get older! I'm looking *forward* to knowing them as adults and teenagers! 🙂

  11. Anna Ilona Mussmann

    My husband and I are both oldest children of large families (which means that our baby has seven aunts, not to mention uncles). We think we're pretty normal, and our siblings actually are our closest friends. I think that one of the things which prevented resentment at our somewhat more laborious role at home is that our responsibilities came with privileges. I enjoyed being treated as more mature than my younger siblings (receiving more information about various issues than they did, etc.) and loved being allowed to make decisions about how to do my various jobs. Even the simple fact that my parents praised and thanked me went a huge way– it made me feel helpful, special, and needed instead of slave-like.

  12. Rakhi McCormick

    I'm an only child so I got nothin' for you on the older sibling front. Downton Abbey on the other hand…I totally understand Anna's reaction. To be honest, any other reaction would have been contrived. I just HATE that these characters couldn't get a moment's peace. First conniving Edna, now this. I've heard all is redeemed by friends from across the pond…so I remain hopeful.

    I loved that Today Show Moms article. What a cute picture of the fam! I loved too that sentiment about play groups – it IS the small talk or not connecting that is draining. Once we have a good and comfortable connection, it's not work anymore. On the other hand, I am drained just thinking about the other possibilities… Most people would not suspect that I am an introvert, but I am indeed.

  13. Hannah

    3rd of 9 (more like 2B, number 2 was my twin who only beat me by 4 minutes….shoulda grasped her heel….) and yes I ended up changing diapers and being nanny to number 7 when I was 10 yrs old, the kid that had to leave the other kids playing because I needed to change the poopy diaper, had to juggle my baby brother at the restaurant when I wanted to be raiding the desert bar, had to take turns soothing him at 2am etc.
    Yes I complained a lot. And it was one of the best things that happened to me. Micah taught be about love. About responsibility, and sacrifice, and what real love was all about. My other sibling reported that I become "a lot less of a brat" after Micah. Definitely changed how I grew up.
    I wouldn't trade that experience of growing up among 9 kids for anything. I really am praying God gives me a large family too 🙂

  14. Son Mom

    Internet comments on articles are the worst — no quicker way to lose your faith in humanity!

    I am the oldest of six, and I loved it, but I do know of oldest children who feel they were taken advantage of. I think as long as you are mindful of not over-burdening the oldest (or coddling the youngest, which is all too easy to do!) and show an appreciation for them, being the oldest can be a pretty awesome spot 🙂 My parents were gone a lot in the evenings because they were very involved in
    Marriage Encounter, so one important thing they did was to pay me to babysit my siblings, since I did a lot of babysitting. That way I looked forward to it as a great chance to make some money! (They paid less than the going rate because it was a lot easier to watch my siblings in our own house than other families.)

    I guess my parents handled things well, because all six of us enjoyed being part of a big family — and all of us desire to have plenty of children ourselves 🙂

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Hi! I’m Kendra.

For twenty years now, I’ve been using food, prayer, and conversation based around the liturgical calendar to share the lives of the saints and the beautiful truths and traditions of our Catholic faith. My own ten children, our friends and neighbors, and people just like you have been on this journey with me.

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