5 a.m. – The baby slept all night so I wake up before the alarm, grateful for an hour of quiet before anyone stirs. I flip on the coffeepot and settle in for my daily dose of prayer and scripture.
6:30-9 a.m. – I send three pairs of kids off to three different schools. Because half have sports after school, I leave a simple but hot breakfast on the stove, and then create a sandwich assembly line. After walking my youngest kids to the bus stop, I chat with other moms, loving their unhurried pace. If weather permits, I take Hope, my 13-month-old, for a walk, the only workout I can fit into my life right now.
10 a.m. – I am not a meticulous housekeeper, but the kids gain on me if I don’t tidy up. I am soon over the housework, though, and stop to play. Hope is my late-in-life surprise, and admittedly, I am about half grandma with this one.
11 a.m. – Hope watches Barney Goes to the Zoo during lunch. It’s the same DVD every day, but she’ll watch the whole episode. I am delighted she can be contained for 45 minutes.
12 p.m. – Bath time. Hope plays with her rubber duck family. Afterwards, I rock her until she dozes off. It’s easy to be in the moment before slipping her into bed.
1-3 p.m. – No matter how full the sink or my “to do” list, I always nap, write, and recharge. Calls from my husband or third child, who attends the U.S. Military Academy, are my only exceptions. My son often calls midday and I love hearing about life at West Point. I grow nostalgic thinking of how proud my parents would be.
3:20-4:15 p.m. – Six kids return home. Younger ones ride the bus, but I pick up my athletes. Since I’m the only driver, I do a lot of running. I’m counting the days until my newest teen gets licensed! Someone always watches Hope so I don’t often have a crying baby in the car seat — the one thing that still gets under my skin after 25 years of babies.
4-6 p.m. – Hope shifts, homework, and hamburgers. Mom Dot, my 86-year-old mother-in-law, lives with us and is a tremendous help quizzing the kids on their homework. Four take a half-hour “Hope shift,” giving me two hours to tidy up and cook, always while listening to Sinatra or Michael Buble’.
6-7 p.m. – Dinner and dishes. It’s challenging to wait until 6 to serve, but family time is a priority. I wait for my husband; he is the breadwinner after all, and my recent college graduate, Bethany, to get home from work. Eleven people around the table brings a lot of chatter, and I smile when the kids raise their hands to speak. One says something about kindergarten and Mom Dot mistakes it for the Pentagon. “Being half-deaf makes life interesting,” she says with a laugh. Someone checks the calendar to announce whether it is boys’ or girls’ night to help with dishes.
7:30 p.m. – Bedtime for Hope. I listen to the quiet as I rock her one more time.
8-9 p.m. – We usually have family devotions, and then the younger ones go to bed while the older ones finish up homework.
9 p.m. – I’m fatigued, but I see my oldest son on caller ID. Now in North Dakota pursuing a master’s in aviation, he tells me that he and his wife like their new surroundings, even though today’s high is just 4 degrees! I enjoy our conversation; still hard to believe that at age 24, he’s a grown, married man.
10 p.m. – Fall into bed at last, knowing I will be doing — and loving — all the important stuff again tomorrow.