carla hofsteeIn 1983, my husband and I were the parents of two young daughters, ages six and four, when I became pregnant again. At that time I had a schedule and routine that enabled me to reach goals and have balance in my life.

During my fourth month of pregnancy I learned that I was pregnant with twins. As I drove home that day from the doctor’s office, I tried to comprehend what life was going to be like having four children instead of two.

Shortly after our twins arrived home, I was overwhelmed with piles of laundry, dishes, an exhausting schedule, and a houseful of chaos. I often grabbed whatever was available to eat and seldom had enough groceries in the kitchen to make complete nutritious meals. Waking up to the demands of four children, trying to meet the needs of my husband, and facing a household that now overwhelmed me, I often felt depressed with no hope of ever having order in my life again.

One morning after the birth of our twins, my mother came to our home for a visit. I shared all of my frustrations with her and sobbed in self-pity. As she listened intently with love and compassion, she challenged me with a question at the end of our conversation: “What are you going to do about it?” She encouraged me to focus on the solution instead of the problem. As we sat and assessed my circumstances, we began to come up with ideas and a schedule that we thought might work.

We both agreed that before I could start any of these ideas and schedules I needed help getting caught up. I hired a young girl to baby-sit and do the ironing. My mom and I started cleaning and bringing order to my home. We wrote a weekly menu and a grocery list. I purchased some ready-made meals for times when cooking needed to be a lesser priority. I budgeted one day of baby-sitting a week, which allowed me time out of the house and away from demands. This one day refreshed me physically and mentally.

I realized I was now in a new season of my life, when old schedules and routines no longer worked for me. I knew there were alternative ideas that would work once I learned them. With my mother’s help, one of the most difficult times in my life turned out to be one of my biggest learning opportunities. I will always be thankful for the love, support, and encouragement my mother gave me.

As Jim and I conquered our challenges over the years, Jim and I talked extensively about adopting and adding children to our family. When our twins turned four years old, we began to inquire about adoption. Over a period of six years from that time, we adopted eight children, which included two sets of twins.

As our family was growing in numbers, I was constantly challenged to be organized, prepare ahead, create schedules that worked, and learn how to multitask. When all of the children were home, in an average month at our house we washed 170-180 loads of laundry, matched 420 pairs of socks, made 240 school lunches, averaged 60-70 hours of homework, and maintained a 5,000 square-foot home without hired help.