What do you get when you talk to two moms who each have eight kids? A whole lot of conversation about how seasons in mothering have all kinds of twists, turns, and lessons! Take a listen as AllMomDoes podcast host Julie Lyles Carr talks with Meg Glesener, host of the Letters From Home podcast, about the experiences of raising kids who span different seasons and generations and how what they’ve learned can help you in your mothering journey.
Julie Lyles Carr: Today, on the All Mom Does podcast, we are continuing with our series on seasons, and I have a new friend I want to introduce you to. She is part of the purposely podcast network, of which All Mom Does is a part. She has a podcast called Letters From Home, her name is Meg Glesener and check this out, she is also a mom of 8. We are unicorns in the wild Meg. I am so excited to get to talk to you.
Meg Glesener: Hey, thanks for having me on. I feel like I am meeting my, my blonde Christian sister twin. Yeah, um, we just celebrated our 33rd anniversary too. Our kids are 15 and a half years apart, so I just feel like the Lord has brought us together just to encourage so many mamas out there.
Julie Lyles Carr: Yeah. It’s so funny as I was looking over your website and the podcast and all the things I went, this is odd, this is like I’ve got a Pacific Northwest avatar out there and correct me, what is, what is your husband’s name?
Meg Glesener: Mike
Julie Lyles Carr: Mike, my husband’s name is Mike.Yeah. Yeah. My husband’s name is Mike, so I, I don’t know what’s happening, this all feels very quantum, but we’re just gonna roll with it and see what, see what happens. So well, Meg, I’m so delighted to have you on today. And one of the things that we were talking about before we got on mic for the, for the interview is the fact that, you know, being a mom, regardless of how many kids you have, there are things that are just universal to the experience. Lack of sleep, and lack of personal space, and lack of going to the bathroom by yourself, and never knowing where the scissors are, things like that. But there is also this unique perspective that you and I get to have that sometimes moms who have larger distances between the ages of their kids get to have, and that is raising kids in different seasons of life. And so that’s one thing we’re gonna talk about today, because I know I have moms out there who they might have an infant, and then they’ve got their next kiddo up who’s wrapping up elementary school this year and is gonna head to middle school. And they’re, they’re trying to figure out how to make all that work when you are between such places, when it comes to these kiddos in our lives. But let’s back up just a little bit. I wanna learn more about you, about your eight, about how you and your husband met. And I’m gonna ask you the question that I get asked all the time, but I just wanna hear what your response is. Why eight? So there you go. I’m winding up. Tell us about you. Tell us about the family and how you guys ended up with your eight.
Meg Glesener: Yes. It, how, how often do we get asked that question, a million times? Are, are you done, you know, when you’re you done a little, like, yeah. Are, are you done having kids? Eight is enough, you know, all the things you, you hear. Um, Mike and I, we met in college serving Christ. I, uh, I grew up in kind of a rough upbringing, I got saved at a party at 16. God changed my life. I was so excited about serving and we met in college. We were very purposeful from the day we met. We wanted to plant a church. We were super involved and the Lord sent us from California up to Seattle. I was pregnant with our second child. And so, um, we started planting a church with a very young family and we believe God wanted a big family. He’s Minnesota farm boy and we didn’t have a number in mind and we just prayed about it one at a time. And, um, when we hit eight, I think we were getting a little close to, can we take care of all the kids God’s given us, and the sanity level, and each one has been, uh, such a blessing, but yes, it totally, um, when, when our daughter was in high school and we had, I had one daughter on the varsity volleyball team, one on the JV, one on the freshman team, the middle schooler would meet us over, the elementary kids would come in, and I had a diaper bag, sitting on the row using my very, uh, practice sports hand to protect any kid. I never had a kid get hit with a ball in any of those boarding games. Trying to manage bringing them up in the Lord’s ways, and their heart all at the same time, you know what I’m talking about?
Julie Lyles Carr: Absolutely. And it is interesting, Meg because our story is very similar in that we never set out to say, oh, we’re gonna have a big family. And I would’ve told you when my Mike and I met, was surprised I even got a kitten out of the guy. Like he just was not a kid person. So as we began building our family, it was praying every time. And one of the misnomers, I think when you have large families is I’ve had people say, oh, I guess you just kind of went what’s one more? But I don’t really think that was it for us because when you have had a number of children, you know what you’re signing up for, and you know, the complexities of it and the ways that your life is going to change. And so similarly for us, it has been a journey of faith to say, all right, Lord, we’re we are not sure why you have us on what is now a societal offroad. Having a family this size in this era, but we’re here for it. And it’s been, it’s been a really interesting journey. So very fun to hear you talk about yours because very similarly, we walked through some of the same stuff. Meg share with me in your experience, what it’s been like mothering kids who are in different seasons of life and need different aspects of your mothering skills and attention. And what I mean by that is, you know, as you and I were chatting earlier, I was potty training toddler twins at the time I was helping my daughter, my oldest get all of her stuff together to go to college. And that was one of those moments where you’re going, well, this is, this is very interesting. I’m trying to print transcripts in the middle of the twins ripping their diapers off and running muck around the house. So how has it been for you trying to engage those things? You gave us a little flavor of it. When you talked about being at the sporting events and having the diaper bag and all the kids, but what have you found in terms of your mothering muscle when you’re really having to engage different parts of yourself, sometimes simultaneously with your kids, depending on the stage and season, they’re in.
Meg Glesener: Totally. And I think so many, uh, moms can relate, you know, you’ve, I think it happens like one at a time. You don’t start off, well, most people don’t start off like with triplets or something. We, we don’t have twins. We haven’t didn’t get blessed with that. But, uh, you know, it comes one at a time you’re figuring out the diapers, you’re figuring out this you’re reading parenting books, Lord, you know, what, what should we do? How can we help the baby sleep and all these kind of things. So, um, I think one super helpful thing for me has always been having a mentor or two with the next stage beyond me. So I can call and say, oh, I’ve gotta, I’ve got somebody who’s gonna start school. And somebody gave me the best advice, they said, just know that when you go to school, always treat those teachers as an ally. And know that your kid’s saying crazy stuff about you, uh, your kid’s gonna come home and say crazy stuff about the teacher, but always view the teacher as an ally. So my husband and I would get together at the beginning of the year with the teacher before they did the fall conferences and say, Hey, we just want you to know we are so thankful for what you’re doing. So, um, I think, you know, in different, uh, stages while you’re figuring things out one at a time you have somebody who’s a mentor, you have friends that are your age that you can ask always. And some people don’t have the luxury of being on the same page with your husband. Maybe moms are out there trying to figure this out alone, and it’s harder. Maybe there’s like a MOPS group or something to sign up with where you can get some collective wisdom from others. But I would say for me, the one constant has been being on the same page as my husband, Mike. We have prayed together. And because we had planted a church, we were so busy with outreach and ministry. He was the preacher and he was working full time. We had a house church, I was doing the ministry and spending every moment I could with each kid trying to help them, trying to listen, crying out to God for forgiveness when I failed or frustrated. And so, yeah, I think that’s, um, where, like just having that, still having a date night, those kind of things just really help keep you, uh, grounded while you’re dealing with the different stages. But it definitely stretches you so much.
Julie Lyles Carr: Right. I love that advice to have a mentor or two who is just ahead of you, because here’s what I think is kind of ironic when you have, even if you don’t have a larger family, but when you have a larger family, people look at you as the mothering expert, but here’s the reality. Yes, you may really have had some opportunity to take far more laps around the mothering journey when it comes to toddlers. But when your first one, and then your first and second one are entering high school, you haven’t done that before. You have a whole bunch of kids, right. But you have not mothered somebody who’s in the high school stages. And so there would be times that I would find people that I would consider peers coming to me saying, well, you’ve got a bunch of kids and our oldest children are both the same age. What are you doing about da, da, da, da, da. And I would go, I don’t know, this is my first time here too, with the child this age. So I thought that was a really interesting part of having the bigger family experience was, there are still plenty of firsts, even when you’ve got a whole pass of kids. Do you find that to be true for you?
Meg Glesener: Totally. And I, I think even about seven years ago, I was in a Bible study at church and our oldests were in college and just starting to figure things out. And I talked to this mom who was 60. She’s like, oh my son’s just tired all the time. And, and I just thought, you know what? We are never gonna stop being mothers and caring about our children in all the different stages. We’re never going to stop. So yes, it’s so important to find people to, uh, to share, share that with that has been for me, one of the great things. Like right now, we just last summer, couple weeks ago, I’m 55, we, uh, just went to Eastern Canada meeting from like six or seven different places. I, we were able to get our eight kids together for the first time in eight years. And if you can imagine us with, I’m like, let’s just spend 15 minutes getting photos and then we just wanna enjoy the time together. Nobody had done their hair or makeup. I’m watching my daughter, uh, try and, um, try and comb uh, the one little daughter of my granddaughter, Shiloh was just like, hadn’t combed her hair. And so she was helping her and it just brought so many flashbacks of when I was, I had three little girls and I’m trying to comb their hair and, they’re like, ouch, ouch. And so, yeah, there’s so many things, um, happening at once and God’s so good. And it’s such a different place now that they’re all adult children. Right. I don’t know about you, but for me, I think my greatest role right now, and it’s something we try and do when our kids are little too. Right. I know you. You have your book on listening to children and their personalities and focusing on that, I’m sure you were way better at that than I was. I’m learning that more now, I think as our kids are adults. So anyone out there with littles are thinking I’ve ruined my teen, I’ve ruined my middle school. You haven’t, you know, as long as there’s, they’re alive, there’s relationship, God is working. We are learning, but I am learning about our adult children now, as I look at them and see them be parents. I’m learning so much. And our relationship is deepening and taking on an even more special level.
Julie Lyles Carr: We’re entering that season ourselves. And it really is fascinating to add these in-law kids. Three of my children are now married and they got married because, you know, they love me so much all within 15 months of each other. And one of them right at the start of the pandemic, two of them in the thick of the pandemic, because that’s what you wanna do to your mom, right? Just wedding after wedding, after wedding and oh, let’s throw in some factors like a pandemic just to make it fun. But you’re so right, Meg, it’s been fascinating to get to know those older kids at a different level based on who they choose for their life partners. That has been a whole other learning season for me as a mom, because you can’t know that. We don’t live in a culture where we’re arranging marriages, at least, at least in the culture I’m living in. And so you have this opportunity to take a front row seat when you see who your child becomes romantically, interested in to learn something about them you didn’t know before. We’ve seen the same thing in the careers that several of our kids have chosen. Some of them have gone a direction that I would’ve told you, oh yeah, I saw that when they were little, I’m not surprised at all. That’s what they’re doing. And have chosen something that as their mom, I would’ve thought really I, if somebody had told me, oh, you’re gonna pick the best vocation for your kid to go in based on how you know them and their personality. And it’s not what I would’ve chosen. And I see them flourishing and doing very well in their chosen work. These are areas that we just can’t know until our kids get to a certain level of adulthood. And I see moms make the mistake of trying to have a heavy level of influence when it comes to romantic and vocational decisions. Yes. Not to say that mom shouldn’t have a voice, but it’s just a part of your kid you can’t know until you’re there. So that leads me to asking you this, you and I have been engaged in mothering seasons, in terms of having kids in the house, that are probably about double again, as long as most women. Mike and I laugh sometimes, our oldest too, the ages they are now, we’re like, do you realize that we would’ve been like out and on our own for the last decade if we hadn’t had more kids? And we love our kids, that’s not to say, it’s, it’s just funny because you realize, wow, we would’ve had 10 years with kids already launched by this point in our lives. I say that to say, when you have practiced the level of the hands on “in the house” mothering, as long as you and I have. Sort of, not unlearning, what would the right phrase be Meg? Having to come to the place of going, oh, that level of muscle memory, I can start releasing a little bit. And I also need to learn how to let go of being used to having people in the house all the time. It’s like, we’ve put off the empty nest syndrome and we’ve just built more muscle. And so, right, that process is very interesting. So how has that been for you as you’re entering this season? Just about everybody’s launched. I mean, we still have four who are in the house, probably will have one launch off in the next couple months, but we’ve still got three in the house, even with him launching off doing his thing. So how has that been for you as you’ve tried to work through that?
Meg Glesener: We’re at a similar place. We have two in college, four hours away. One travel nurse, a few hours away. And then we have one 16-year-old at home, who’s a junior. Uh, I think I had five or six kids come through the house this summer. So yeah, it’s been a lot of in and out kind of transition, big things happening, babies. We have five grandkids, all kinds of things. So, um, I think you ask for me, like I would put it like, uh, maybe stepping back a little. Stepping back and stepping down on my knees, you know, mm-hmm, it’s, it’s a season of saying, you know, for when the kids are little, you, you pray for them. You read the little Bible stories, you love them. You teach them. And then, you know, as, as they get older, uh, you know, they start, you start seeing their character come out. Our kids have been in public school and they’ve been involved with Bible study, have been involved and the Moms in Prayer and you try and help them, you know, get, bring them to youth group, help them develop the good heart and, and habits and talk through issues and problems. And like I said, mentoring and prayer and all those things. And then they go off to college. You know, there’s, they’re excited to have you be kind of part, uh, you know, our, our kids have, and, and then, you know, as they go along, some of our kids have had some bumps in their faith and it’s just not something I ever anticipated. You know, you talked about oh, different careers and different things. Um, you know, there there’s this whole process where they are becoming independent adults. And if we, like you said earlier, if we get in there and you’re like, we’re trying to micromanage, and say everything, and call, and do the, it’s like they have to figure these things out. And from, even in the womb, you know, we prayed Lord, these are yours. Our kids are yours. So what I have found Julie, in this stage of life is, no, they actually are in God’s hands. It’s not just I’m saying that and I, I believe that, but it’s tested to a completely different level when they’re out of your hands. And so like, uh, got together the girlfriend the other day and she’s like, what happens with this? What happens with this? Like, she was so fearful and nervous. But you know, I think of Proverbs 31, where that woman, was she perfect? No, but it said she smiled at the future. Why? Because we know God is there. And so if I can be in this stage, I’m learning to be at rest while our kids are out and about, one in Eastern Canada, one here, one there, they’re all over. That, and some are in different places. I have one son who’s going to, uh, be a minister in far off lands and translate a Bible. I’ve just got kids all over the place, but I can be at rest and at peace because I know God loves them and cares for them more than I do. So, um, in some ways it’s been my hardest stage, but in other ways it has made me long for heaven more. And I just have the peace in my heart that God loves them so much.
Julie Lyles Carr: Meg you’re so right. It’s one of the things that we don’t often think about or talk about. As long as our kids are still in our home, even if we don’t see it as control, it can feel like we have a little bit more control over how things are going. Yes. Because we are able to just, you know, and we can be in the minutia. We can make some decisions about how much rest we think they need and what kind of dinner they’re gonna have. And if they’re gonna be at youth group or not, or whatever those things are. And so that profound sense of, wow. I’m really not in control when they launch, even though you and I both know, we’ve never really been in control. Right. But some of those structures, some of those buttresses that have made us feel like we’ve had some control in a very uncertain world. Those are gone when they launch. So you’re so right. It is a very different season when kids start to launch and you have to grapple with that in a fresh way, you have to really dig down and go, man. These are God’s kids at the end of the day. You know, yeah, I have done what I can do and I’m hopeful that they will still want me to consult with, on occasion. Right. But now they get to make these choices and we’re gonna tackle, I have an upcoming series. That’s going to be on building our faith. And part of that we’re gonna tackle is what happens when you have kids who are not walking out their faith, the way that you had hoped. And we’re going to get into some of that in the next season. I wanted to ask you about, within marriage, you know, I think a lot of times our marriages and our parenting get all entwined. And this can happen with one kid, it can happen with four. It can happen in situations like ours, with a number of children where the parenting becomes the primary point of marital contact. How have you and your Mike navigated that because it really can get complicated. It can get kind of confusing as to how all that’s supposed to work.
Meg Glesener: When we were young, um, we, we, we just started the habit of spending date night together and we found another couple who we could swap babysitting with. And we would just literally go to Taco Bell, uh, and get a $1 burrito for our date night because we just didn’t have the funds and one of the things that has kept our marriage, uh, strong, and, and I, I like what you were saying about that, because it’s very easy, especially once kids start getting all the activities, to have our lives completely evolve around them, we, oh, we’re all so excited about the kids. And then people have it, well, when the kids are gone, they’re like, oh, let me, who are you, and who are we? And we have kind of been very purposeful about that to say, I love you first. I love you, you know, you’re before the kids and to keep date nights and keep our hearts fresh, um, as much as we can. We’ve never had like, well, the kids, who are you gonna, who are you gonna go away and take, take a vacation? No, there’s none of that. I never had a mom come spend a week and watch the kids for me. So all you moms out there who are just doing it, you know, good for you. Such a hard job, especially after the pandemic that, you know, changed so many things for all of us and put us in all kinds of, uh, seasons and stages that we weren’t expecting. Right. Right. But Mike and I still have that, and you know what? The kids love that, even last night, our 26-year-old was out there and he came out and I, I, um, he’s visiting. And he said, oh, you and Dad are out here. Yeah. We come out out here and hang out on the deck few times a week and he’s like, oh, I love that. And our kids know that. And I think that’s part of the stability that we have in this stage. I think one of the most important things with kids going, um, out, out and about, you know, They know Mike and I love each other. They know, we love Jesus. They see us having a family devotion still in the morning or, or date now, of course we’re not perfect. They also see us work out, you know? Well, are you sure there were 20 people there? I think there were 40, are you sure? You know, like, well, I’m sorry. I think I got a little snippy about that and you know, they see us work things out, but it’s, it’s that love. It’s that commitment to say, we are gonna follow the Lord together, that our marriage started off on that. I know our kids see that consistency and they need that while they’re in, I’m sorry, but the twenties, thirties, some kids are like going, bouncing all over, trying different things, doing, to have that consistency to say, the Lord’s love is here in my marriage and in my home. So it seems like, oh, we’ll get to date night with us when the kids are little, but it’s so important. And we would even say like, okay, first 10 minutes, we’re not gonna talk about the kids. Or we are only gonna talk about the kids for 10 minutes and then we just need to talk to each other. And there’s times when I remember thinking, well, what else are we gonna talk about? And, you know, it’s just really hard, but I think that cultivating our love is so important.
Julie Lyles Carr: Right. Absolutely. I have found it interesting in the season of life I’m in now, particularly with friends that their children are the ages of my oldest kids. And so around the time we started getting some of these kiddos married off, I saw some of those marriages blow apart. And everybody talks about, you know, it used to be the seven-year itch. Now, statistically we know that year three, three and a half is one of the ones that we’ve gotta really look out for on average. But you and I both have probably seen at this point, marriages, the ages and stages of hours, where a lot of people would go, oh, they’ve figured it out. They’re good. They’re fine. Kids start launching. And we see some of these relationships completely break. And this is not a blame thing. This is saying, in the name of survival and kiddos and being focused and trying to do all that you can for your kids. It’s such a great thing to do that. And yet, if we’re not thoughtful and we’re not making the relationship with our spouse a priority, to your point, Meg, we have people who have that last one, get in the car to go to college and look at each other and they don’t have relationship anymore. There’s there’s not much there. Yeah. And so we now know that in addition to those early, early ages and stages of marriage being at risk, we now know that couples in years 30 to 40 are at some of the higher risk as well, which is an anomaly. It’s really something that’s cropped up in the last 20, 25 years, but it’s there. And so to be aware that you’re gonna walk into a season, you are gonna launch kids. It is going to happen, and you are going to walk into a season where that primary relationship with your partner, if there has been good nutrition for it, great. If there hasn’t been, you’re probably gonna have a reckoning. You’re probably gonna need to get somebody, a professional involved to help with that reckoning. It’s not irreconcilable. It’s not, but it’s hard because it is a new and different season. Meg, talk to me about a question that I ponder a lot. You’re so right. That we always, mother we’re always gonna care and wonder about our kiddos. We’ve had long seasons as spouses, but there is the Meg that’s Meg. That sort of doesn’t have anything to do with mothering in that season. And there’s a Julie, that’s a Julie that doesn’t really have to do with mothering in that season, even though it is so intrinsically part of who I’ve become and certainly the things I’ve learned and experienced and all that kind of stuff. But who is Meg coming into this season? How are you looking at that in your life today that’s different when you first started having kids?
Meg Glesener: That’s a great question. I think right now, for me, there is a little bit of sadness because it is a transition. There’s so much joy with all the kids in the house and then they’re, they’re, uh, out and about. And, um, I think one thing I think about is, it, you know, have you heard of Hamilton? Have you heard, uh, Hamilton of the musical, right? Um, yeah, but the phrase; “Who lives, who dies, who tells your story” yeah. I am a grateful child of God. And I think about that with the kids, whether it’s they remember if you all the things we’ve done over the years to love them, to serve them. I mean, I don’t know if you’ve ever counted up the diapers, but I know like I counted up just even the parent teacher conferences was about 150 in elementary. And the games and, right? And all the choices of love and all the prayers on our knees, and all the asking forgiveness when we yelled at the kids, and all those choices and love in the hugs and the owies and all the things. Or even now, I don’t know that every kid sees how much I pray for them and I love them. And I, I do feel a little forgotten or sad sometimes. And, but I think what God has encouraged me with, when I think of Hebrews and the hall of faith, I want to be part of that hall of faith that said, they, they all died in faith. Some of them not having ever received the promises, but having welcomed them from afar, knowing that God had prepared for them a city. And so I, I, I am a child of God. I’m believing my heavenly father that he has the best things. And I know that in my life, the best days are yet to come. And when I center myself on him, reading his word and loving prayer and praying for my kids, it gives me that peace to know, yes, I know they’re in his hands, but he’s got me covered. He’s gonna tell my story. He is, he’s the author of my story and my life, and nothing that we done has been forgotten.
Julie Lyles Carr: Absolutely, such a beautiful way of looking at it as we navigate these different seasons of life as women, as moms, as spouses. It’s really powerful to keep in mind that yes, we have great days ahead wherever we are in that scope and in, in those seasons. Meg, these, what a wealth of information and wisdom and heart you are, and wow. You have the gorgeous smile. I need to make sure we get a video snippet on so people can see. I wanna make sure people go over and check out your podcast where they’re gonna find all kinds of encouragement, Letters From Home. Where can listeners find that and where can they find you on all the socials?
Meg Glesener: lettersfromhomepodcast.com, and I have a little gift for you, if you just, one way to make it easy is if you go into the Apple app store or, or the Google play, just type in Letters From Home podcast. And I have an app, and it, if you, you click on it, it’ll download it right to your, uh, right on your phone. And then, um, I share everyday extraordinary testimonies and faith stories and encouragement is just kind of a tap away. It’s a little rainbow on the app. So.
Julie Lyles Carr: Love that love that. Well, Meg, thanks so much. I’m so glad that we got to connect. I, this new bestie of mine, also a mom of eight, also in a similar season of life. I so appreciate you taking the time. And I am here just cheering you on in this newest season of your life as podcaster, grandma, and you got your kids launched girl, you are, you’re my you’re my heroes, so thanks so much for being with me.
Meg Glesener: Thank you, Julie.