We have four kids. You might see us at piano lessons on Tuesday afternoon, curling class on Saturday morning, or voice on Thursday afternoons. You could see me with them at the local grocery, wandering the aisles once or twice a week.
But any day, every day that we wander outside our yard, I hear: Are those all yours?
Dare I say, Nope, just picked that one up on aisle two; this one attached to my knee, I found in the dairy aisle.
I recognize that we’ve doubled the national average. Two is such a common number nowadays. Three is unusual. Four is downright folly! Or so people betray in their surprised expressions.
Only my husband and I together have enough hands for all four, but now I joke that we each have ten fingers, one finger for each child. Twenty kids!
Well, no, not for us, though I am familiar with a few happy families that are working on that.
In our early days, my husband and I quickly shared our life hopes and dreams, one of having a flock of four (despite each of us originating from a triangulated sibling group).
What a wonderful coincidence (we were fated)! We began, in playful anticipation, naming our progeny before we ever made a commitment to one another. If we were ever to have a daughter, we both wanted to name her Hannah (uncanny coincidence?) My husband liked it for its unique quality…it is a palindrome. I liked it for its old-fashioned femininity. Ten years later, our progeny has overwhelmed my husband with femininity—three daughters, but also a son.
My original number dwindled since high school. In my graduating year, my yearbook recorded two “notable” aspirations. One that I would like to marry a ‘Patrick Swayze’ type (turns out, he does have dark hair, chocolate brown eyes, and a sexy, deep voice, but doesn’t carry a tune…except for some strange reason Weird Al songs).
I also professed to desiring ten children (that was in my pre-parenting, starry-eyed, I actually don’t know what I’m talking about years).
The joys of a fuller family life have always excited me. Besides being able to use all those baby names I planned since childhood, I romanticized cradling many wee ones, introducing each new addition to the others, and discovering yet another personality that originated partly from my genetics.
I had anticipated a busy blur of happiness (in this, I was correct).
After the healthy birth of our second daughter, Madelyn, our family physician concluded the six week check-up discussing permanent birth control. Had I wanted to complete the work of childbearing with a final hurrah in the operating room…a tubal ligation?
Noooo thank you…don’t sign me up. I’ve got more babies planned for my future!
He was dumbfounded. “Oh! You want another baby…my, that’s interesting”.
No explanation…clearly there were just two kids in his family’s future.
An autumn visit to downtown Vancouver over Halloween brought us a few stares, and a few comments. We weren’t dressed up as we walked down Denman to Robson Street on Halloween party night. But the comments might have suggested that we didn’t need to. We were dressed as the Family of Six.
Yes, and if you’re thinking that’s way too busy for me, well, you’re probably right.
But as I’ve said many times, I didn’t go from zero to four. It was actually zero to one that overwhelmed. What!? I can’t be alone in the bathroom? I can’t leave the house without a checklist? I must think of someone’s well-being for the next twenty five years? (my number, perhaps not yours)
I’m not likely going to sleep through the night ever again. I once thought that sleep disruptions occurred in the first year after birth, With the viewing of scary movies, like Peter Pan, and going to dark, frightening spaces, like downstairs, sleep disruptions also happen to seven year olds.
By the time there are no children to interrupt I will be in that phase of life where everyone has difficulty sleeping through the night. Life has changed indefinitely.
But would I change it? You already know the answer to that question. Every moment of this wonderful parenting journey I will attempt to relish. Carpe diem. Sieze each child, and hug them tight.