My name is Cheryl Butler, and I'm a newly turned 44-year old mom of eight children, ranging in ages from 2 through 15. My husband Brian and I have been married for 20 years (soon to be 21 on September 19), and just happened to meet on my 21st birthday at the dental practice I worked in. I was supposed to have the day off for my milestone 21st birthday, but one of the hygienists called in sick that day, so how could I refuse when they called me in to work? I'd say it was a pretty awesome way to spend my birthday seeing that I met my true love that day!
Sometimes, I honestly can't fathom the fact that we've been married for two decades and are the parents of eight kids, but we have and we are . . . and though we live a tremendously busy life; it's full of new experiences (some bad, but mostly good!), full of new lessons, definitely full of laughs, definitely some tears, and best of all it's full of love.
I myself am the oldest of five children, both of my parents schoolteachers, so I knew early on that I wanted to have a family as soon as possible, though never thought I'd have a small tribe. Each one of them is a miracle, especially since our journey to become parents did not happen as easily as I had anticipated. After three painful miscarriages, and six frustrating and heartbreaking years of infertility, we adopted our first child, a daughter, on the very day she was born-in June of 1993 and soon after that the floodgates opened and I became pregnant with our first son!
Having a diagnosis of "unexplained infertility" left the doors open for "maybe someday" conceiving and having a healthy baby, but it was put to rest in the back of my mind after we adopted our baby girl. All was right with the world once that happened. You could've knocked my husband and I over with a feather because we were literally on cloud 9 for months after she arrived.
Now I know you've heard these stories before-once you adopt you get pregnant, but in our case, we were in the middle of infertility treatments when we were blessed with our sudden adoption, and became pregnant when our baby was just three months old. Our son was born one year to the day we traveled home from Colorado to our home in Rhode Island. God works in mysterious ways and I'm a faithful believer in that old phrase . . . "Be Careful What You Ask For"!
That said, I am living my dream of having a family with the best birthday gift I've ever gotten, my husband Brian. We both grew up in the smallest state in the country-Rhode Island, and still live here to this day, despite the fact that growing up I thought sure I'd live in a big city like Boston or New York. The Ocean state is a great place to raise a family. Brian is the Vice President of a Marketing Company located in Providence and Boston. He's been there for 20 years now and enjoys it immensely. You can bet with 8 kids I am thrilled he has a job that he loves! We have gorgeous autumns and summers and our winters are not overly snowy and cold but our springs are soppy and wet. Lots of beautiful parks and beaches surround us and Newport, Rhode Island, which is famous for its big mansions and picturesque scenery, is just minutes away from our home. Best of all, both of our families all live in Rhode Island, so our kids get to grow up with all their grandparents, aunts, uncles and many, many cousins.
I have retired from working in the dental practice I was with for 15 years and now am a freelance writer for a handful of magazines in Rhode Island. I am privileged to write some family columns, one "It's All Good" for Catholicmom.com and another "It Just So Happens" where I can share my insight and humor about parenting. Besides my family, writing is my passion.
I'd love to introduce you to all my children and don't worry-there won't be a quiz after this journal entry to see if you remember their names and ages-I promise!
Brittany Elizabeth is 15 years old and a Sophomore in High School
Connor Alan is 14 years old and an 8th Grader in Jr. High
Casey Rebecca is 13 years old and a 7th Grader in Jr. High
Austin James is 12 years old and a 6th Grader
Cameron Edward is 9 years old and in the 3rd Grade
Brendan Nicholas is 8 years old and in the 2nd Grade
Brady Matthew is 6 years old and going into Kindergarten
Anna Louise "Annie" will be three on October 29th!
Pheww!!!! I think that's everybody. Five boys and three girls later, we know our family is definitely complete. This will be the first year in fifteen years that all of my children will be in school. Annie is starting her first year of Nursery School, and although she'll only be gone for a few hours each week, I am not quite sure how I am going to handle being all alone. Whatever will I do with myself?
We have a motto around our house that my husband coined years before we even had any children-"Every day is good, some are better." This is what I think about on those days where I can't get out of my own way or I am trying desperately not to lose my mind with all the chaos I face while raising such a large family. A patient, loving husband who always sees the bright side to every situation is definitely my biggest asset, and being able to sort laundry, load the dishwasher, help someone on the potty, all while trying to remember if I actually put my bra on for the day keeps me humble and out of trouble.
During the fifteen years of being called "mom" I have faced a roller coaster of issues such as helping three of my children overcome significant speech delays (when professionals thought they might be autistic) trying to find the right balance to give what I needed to each child individually, finding time to stay connected to my husband (though people assume since we have 8 kids, we've been connected a little too much!) and most importantly learning how to make time for myself (I have this problem with saying no to places like the PTO, church etc . . . ).
It's never dull, that's for sure and this upcoming year is sure to take me to some interesting new places in life now that I'm going to have the house to myself for a few hours ALONE! I'll keep you all posted.
Thanks for taking the time to learn a little bit about my family and I. We just returned from a week-long stay at Disney World last week, and I'm happy to say we returned with everyone and my wits are still about me, so once I get my children all off to school for the new year next week, I'll be back to chat a bit about some great ideas I stuffed in my suitcase on the return trip.
I look forward to traveling down the many paths of parenthood with all of you each week. The journey is so much more fun when you travel with friends!