I don’t wanna!
“But I don’t wannnaa!”
I know I sounded a bit like my two year old as my husband pulled me along to meet his good friend, and mechanic, as we stopped by to pick up our van from his shop yesterday.
“I don’t care!,” he whispered back to me, ” You have to meet him!”
I heaved a sigh and let myself be pulled along. It’s not that I have anything against meeting new people, but this man is older and was originally a friend of my husband’s grandfather so I dreaded the question I knew he would ask me.
I love the fact that my husband is friends with so many people from different generations. On any random day, you’re liable to catch him chatting with teenage boys he’s met through my nephews and nieces, offering guidance, advice, and understanding as they tell him about their struggles to become men, then he’ll be stopped by a group of men in their 80’s and 90’s to ‘shoot the breeze’ about the weather, the grandkids, and the crazy cost of living. He’s just as comfortable in both situations and it’s one of my favorite things about him.
He made introductions, and I took an instant liking to this jovial man that’s done so much for our family. This time, we’re there to pick up our van that he’d fixed the cadillidic converter, patched the oil pan, changed the oil, and replaced several bad sensors and he was only charging us $30 for the whole she-bang because he’d raided a junk yard to get the parts since he knew money is tight for us right now. You can’t get better than that.
We stood there and watched another older gentleman show us a magic trick, and laughing hardily. Suddenly, there it was.
The ‘Lead up to the Big” question.
“Now how many kids do you have again?”
I smiled broadly and answered, “Six! Four boys and two girls!”
The mechanic let out a “Good Grief!” and laughed hardily. Somehow, I didn’t mind it so much from him.
“I had four myself, my youngest is what, Jed? In her thirties? (Jed corrected him that she was about 35 or 36.) And that got me 10 grandkids and 3 great grands and one more on the way! I always thought my work would be done if I could just get the kids outta the house, but the grandkids are just as much work as the kids were!” He laughed again.
I really liked his laugh. Besides, he didn’t add the question that leaves me flabbergasted every time “How do you do it?”
I never know exactly what to answer. Schedules? Lists? An obsessive need to control every bit of everything? Valium and Vodka? Seriously, how do parents of one or two children do it? Can it really be that different from what I do?’
I hope you don’t hold it against me, but I can’t remember having a small family. I had one child. Then three in two years. Then five in three years. Then six in four years. And that’s what I’ve always had to go on. I don’t remember getting any more sleep with one than I do with six. I don’t remember any less housework with one than I have with six. I’m sure it has increased, but everything happened so suddenly that my brain and body just acclimated.
As my children are growing older there are some things I can say about how I do it, but I’m not sure how much it would help the curious outsider looking in.
Lots of prayer.
Lots of time.
Lots of cleaning.
Lots of love.
And lots of one another. We’re very home-based and everyone is responsible for one another. Even the two year old has his own responsibilities. We don’t focus on the present, whether good or bad. We are training for the future. Every day, each of my children have responsibilities that will help them as they grow into adulthood, but there is no set list. My boys tend to mimic their daddy (and are encouraged to!). They want to protect, to comfort, to fix things, to work, and to guide. The girls tend to mimic me. They want to nurture, to instruct, to study, to take care of the house, to take care of their siblings, and to volunteer their abilities to others.
And I honestly couldn’t do it without them. I mean, I know if not for them, I wouldn’t have to, but I don’t know that I could anymore. Each of the eight people who call my house home go so far to contribute to it that it really wouldn’t be home without them. There is no need to know how it’s done, just that we love it and do our best. Nothing is truly a sacrifice when it’s freely given, and loving children even less.
Why should anyone wonder at that? I wish I did but I don’t know how to explain these things to people off the street.
Besides, I don’t wannna!