“You can always tell a first time mother,” she said, as we sat in the kitchen sipping our coffee. “They’re always jumping up, running after the baby, worried about every little thing she touches. By the time the third one comes along, she’s like, ‘Oh look, the baby’s licking a shoe–isn’t that cute?’”

A quick glance at my toddler revealed the source of my friend’s caffeinated blurt of wisdom–my eight-month old daughter, sitting quietly at my feet was teething on a sandal.

No, I didn’t give it to her; she slipped it off my foot without me noticing. And no I didn’t think it was cute, but I didn’t panic either.

She was right.

You might be tempted to say a mother of several children just gets lazier. I say, she gets wiser or she won’t survive.

It always seemed curious to me that children in small families, living in town with mothers that kept immaculate homes and doted over them– were constantly sick. I noticed these families because, well in some ways, I envied them.

Although I couldn’t stand the thought of raising a large family in a subdivision, raising kids in an old farmhouse was a lot of hard work.

Open windows welcomed the dust in from the fields, and a constant stream of little feet imported dirt and mud from every corner of the yard. It was hard enough to keep the house clean, but keeping it sterile was not an option.

Oh, and their favorite place to play? The barn. Followed closely by the large eight-by-eight foot sandbox under a magnolia tree. The boys built treetop shanties tree houses and played army barefoot in minefields of manure the pasture.

In this week’s reading of Jordan S. Rubin’s The Maker’s Diet I found the reason my kids were seldom sick. To this day, even as adults– it takes a lot to knock them down. I used to think it was because I was such a good mother. Wrong. It was because God is such a good Father.

Rubin explains how science is just now discovering how the Creator designed our environment to keep us healthy. Which, it turn, also explains how we’ve messed up the process.