Friday, June 10, 2011

A great many things

There is much to be said for parenting a single stage of childhood. There are no diapers to change during chemistry experiments. No toddlers losing prized mp3 players. No nap times to consider when booking sports lessons.

Look who's (bear) walking

These are just a handful of the things I worried about when we began the slow peeling back in our hearts that would eventually lead to adding to what seemed like our already complete family. Three children (a nice, manageable number) born in just four and a half years allowed us the luxury of not stretching much beyond our current comfort zone. No one was too far ahead of anyone else. No one was too far behind anyone else. It was very neat and perfect, although I admit that at the time, I wasn't quite as appreciative of this fact. One weaned, it seemed, just in time for another to be born. I changed bulky over night diapers for no less than seven years solid. And Bob the Cucumber and Larry the Tomato were like live-in relations who just never got the hint and moved out.

Now I straddle a couple of stages, and no, it's nowhere near as neat and tidy as life would have been had we taken our cues from those seemingly wiser than us and just quit already. We tag-team things like Karate Awards Night for Atticus and Logan (it was my turn to go last week), and other things we parade to en masse, taking up an entire table during a fellowship dinner and fellowshipping with ... well, ourselves. (Note to AWANA leaders: tables that only seat 8 may not cut it ...) My older kids miss out on some things, like events that only happen from 11 a.m.-2 p.m., because that's prime napping time and woe unto him who thinks I'm giving that up lightly. My younger kids have never been to a library story hour.

Jo taking a break from cleaning rabbit cages to play with Seven

Sometimes I look at all of this and wonder if the pros outweigh the cons. I ask myself what the conversation will be like, twenty years from now, when they all gather in someone's living room without Mr. Blandings and I. I imagine Jo will be hosting, because she is Jo, and she likes to host things, and it will allow her to set the ground rules anyway which is very convenient when you have a somewhat Type A personality and many younger siblings. I imagine Logan will be late, and Atticus will be flustered, and Oli will watch with rapt awe, and Mani will simply bask in being somewhat difficult, but really meaning well. Bee will be there, but she will be quiet and sweet and remind everyone not to talk to loudly or get too carried away. And of course, there will be Seven, who will be deliciously independent and fawned over, and yet not at all able to understand why everyone finds her so darn funny.

Who? Moi?

So what will they say? What will my children make of this life they didn't choose when they're old enough to have some hindsight? The homeschooling? The missions-based, evangelical Christianity? The stay-at-home mom submitting to the head-of-household dad? The international focus? The Bible As Authority upbringing? The mix of children, biological and adopted? The cultures represented? The frugality? The make-do attitude? The span of ages? 

Oh, to be a fly on the wall.

I think it's love.

In truth, I have no idea what they'll say. I have my guesses (Atticus will insist that he had it the hardest, I guarantee it; Mani will be the rockstar baby brother, I guarantee that, too) but only time will tell. Until then, I get to enjoy this sprawling, chaotic brew of family bubbling over.

Big kids. Little kids. And the melding of the two. 


ThyHandHathProvided said...

What a lovely post. The pictures of your olders with your youngest melt my heart.

Christine said...

Very lovely, indeed.

Benny said...

It is lovely, isn't it? And at least from the parental perspective the messiness pales in comparison to the beauty of it all. I just pray that from the kids' perspective years down the road they see it the same... ;o)