My oldest two boys are gone with their grandparents this week. The house has been eerily quiet. They are the ones I depend on for fist fights in the living room. Without them, the World Wrestling Federation has gone into retirement. All kidding aside, I spend a lot of my time refereeing. If they aren’t shouting words that constantly have me saying “that is inappropriate” then they are knocking each other over the furniture and leaving a trail that rivals the destruction of Hurricane Ike. Amazingly it hasn’t been all that hard keeping the house up this week!
The hardest thing about adopting more kids is blending two separate families into one. It seems like we spend a lot of time divided. Often it’s a battlefield: little kids vs. big kids. The only thing I lack is the striped shirt because I do have a whistle!
For the most part my children have done an outstanding job of taking in their cousins, but there are times when my three make it clear that they miss having their mom to themselves. There are times when the little kids require a great deal of attention and effort. Some days I feel like if they tug at me any harder I’m going to turn into Stretch Armstrong. There are moments when frustration boils over because little kids have a tendency to leave a mess wherever they go and let’s face it, Tucker is a bit OCD so the fact that someone mixed up his black shorts with the white ones and moved the pillows on his bed is major meltdown material. And with all seven of them, quiet is not their forte. Between my husband (who is extremely animated), the kids, the dogs and the TVs, it’s no wonder I’m already feeling the signs of hearing loss! Plus, there are things we no longer do very often, like hit the mall or go to the movies because with a family of nine those things must be carefully planned and budgeted for. I know my kids miss the way I used to just load them up and go, but then a week like this comes along, and I realize, I’m closer than I think to making this work.
There is a real bond forming in this crew. The second day they were gone, Jordan found a nest of baby frogs. He said “Mommy look!” I looked, and he said “Can you call Poppa to bring Dylan and Tucker home now?” Because every frog discovery needs to be validated by your big brothers!
Speaking of big brothers, last week was KK’s first dance recital, and although they were bored to death, all five of my boys sat there and watched little girls twirl around in tutu’s. I’d consider that a true sacrifice of love, especially for the 13-year-old! I mean these are home-grown football playing, car building, baseball hitting, mud digging, bug hunting, mess making boys, and they all put on clean shirts and clapped for our little princess! Daddy even bought her a flower, I was so impressed I almost fell out of my chair!
Yesterday Blondie was off to the lake with her friends and the little ones wanted me to go pick her up! They said “It’s just you and Daddy and us? That’s too quiet!” It melts my heart to see them missing the big kids. It tells me how much they truly have become part of our family. And even though my boys are probably eating it up, hanging with Memaw and Poppa, having a blast, I bet somewhere deep inside, they miss the chaos of home.
I guess the true challenge of my life is to always help each of us see the blessings all these hardships have brought into our lives. Sure, sometimes its a knock-down drag-out perfect for reality TV kind of day, but at the end of it, none of us would be the same if we hadn’t traveled down this path.
A lot of people said I was crazy to have taken all four kids. They were so little when they first got here. It’s true, it would have probably been easier to split them up and send them to different family members. But the very first night I had them, Trenton was 3, his twin brothers were 2, and the Princess was just at a year old. I didn’t know where to put them, so I made this big pallet on the living room floor. I covered them up and they went to sleep. Hours later, I tip-toed into the living room to check on them, and there they were, all holding hands! Locked together, looking out for each other, and so little, and from that moment I knew without a doubt I would never let anyone separate them out, even if it meant I would have to be the one to keep them all.
So yes, maybe I will never get to quit saying “Boys, ENOUGH!” and maybe I will put 250,000 miles on my old beast running from one baseball game to the next, and probably by the time I get this house remodeled to make room for everyone they will be grown, but in this strange silence surrounding me this morning, I can clearly see why I will never stop trying. I almost don’t feel like myself without having to say “I’m going to give you til the count of three….”