I make lists. On paper and in my head. Sometimes if I write a list before I go to bed, I can sleep because I have made the list already.
Sometimes, too often probably, I think about my kids. Each and every one. I never used to understand what it would be like to have a "big" family. I guess by most people's standards, five kids makes a big family. The thing is, it's not like I feel I have any spares. I am in love with each one of them. I think that when you have your first (when I had my first), I knew I wanted more children. But when it looked like that might not happen, I knew that I would be happy that I had at least the one I got.
Then I did have more children. I learned that love doesn't divide when you have more children. The bond between mother and child deepens as there are more children to love. It's like your heart just keeps growing.
Every year when the kids got on the school bus on the first day of school, I would cry. One year a mom at the bus stop asked me why I was crying. She said "you don't have anyone in kindergarten this year". No, I didn't. But seeing the bus driving away with my heart was tough.
I have been upset and angry and yelled at every one of the kids, more than once I am sure. It is not easy living with other people. Even if they share your DNA, sometimes you don't like what they are doing -or not doing. Sometimes parents have their own demons and no release, so when one of the kids tears a shirt or jumps on the furniture, you just lose it.
Other times, when they are reading or helping in the kitchen, or just sharing and activity or a secret with a sibling, you smile all over. Nick and I have shared looks and smile across the dinner table more times that anyone could ever count.
Something I bet the kids don't know. Every time Nick or I had a birthday, we would wish for another baby when we blew out our candles. Even after we knew we would not be having more, we had a little piece of wistfulness thinking about it.
|My mom's last Christmas with all 5 of my kids, 2003|
When Courtney was in third grade, she came home from school one day and told me that she was going to be Martha Washington in her class play- in less than a week. So, in a slight panic, I went shopping for a pattern and fabric and made her a dress in which she could be Martha Washington. When I went to school to see her play, I thought she looked so beautiful in front of the room. When she opened her mouth to recite her lines (I honestly don't remember what she said), I was surprised by the tears pouring down my cheeks. Ah, perfection in my little girl's whole self at that moment. They don't tell you that you fall in love with your children over and over throughout their lives. Who knew? Not me.
Morgan was a cute, silly, quiet (in public) boy. He always seemed to have friends to ride bikes with. When he learned to ride the unicycle, and was in a unicycle troupe, he amazed us all. He always rode with such skill I couldn't believe it. And he was always smiling as he performed.
Darcy was the one his grandmother said of "I would hate to be his first grade teacher". He has the sunniest smile and disposition. He was a cuddler. But, when nobody was looking, look out world. I remember standing in the front yard talking to a neighbor when Courtney came out to tell me Darcy was writing on the walls. Not only was he "writing", he was scribbling on the whole stairway wall- with a red crayon! Sweet and sassy my boy "D-a-Darcy-y"
Austin was my long awaited natural birth. He was healthy, strong and amazingly easy as a newborn. He nursed well, and then would sleep for so long I would worry. But he grew like a weed, so I guess he just had his own way of doing things pretty much since day one. Austin was a beautiful boy with his blond hair, blue eyes and pink cheeks. I always have felt that Austin got more Norwegian blood than the rest of the kids. He had good friends, and I remember when were leaving Australia, his friends held up their arms for him to walk under- like walking under swords for a service man. This was their special salute for Austin. Austin is sensitive, strong, smart and capable. Like both of his parents, he has periods of doubt in himself. Life is hard, but mostly it's good.
Chance, the "baby" brings up the rear. I was the youngest in my family and I used to hate being called the "baby". Now I am doing it to my kid! Chance, like his older siblings, was a much wanted baby. On the days when I was feeling tired or sick and overwhelmed by the four kids I already had, I would look at my pregnant belly and ask myself "what were you thinking?" Born two months early, at 32 week, the early days and months of Chance's life were pretty scarey. It took a lot of work and dedication from family and friends to get Chance well and striving. But strive he did. Elementary, middle and high school were all a challenge for Chance as well as his parents! That is an understatement! Once Chance started college, and even more so since he has moved to Richmond, he has become a really interesting adult. I am sure he has always been interesting, don't get me wrong. Living away from home and being responsible for himself every day has really made Chance an interesting and introspective person. Maybe he was like that before, but I think when he was living at home, he wasn't able to express himself, at least to his parents, like he does now. My youngest child is a grown up man. How about that!