Five years ago, I contacted Tammie Toler to see about publishing some family stories. She agreed and in December of 2012 I started publishing stories about family life and life in general. As I begin my sixth year I want to say, “Thank You” to all of you who have written to me or commented either through email or my blog. I also want to say thank you for letting me share the ups and downs of a large family in our crazy, mixed up world.
As most of you know, Tammie is a wonderful person, and I have the privilege of writing to her every week to turn in my story. I couldn’t ask for a better editor or mentor. When I write something less than positive, Tammie writes and commiserates or encourages and always, always makes me feel better.
My column started many years ago when our children were very little. I would write a story during the day and read it aloud at supper to entertain the kids and to make them feel special. They were always eager for the story to be about them. Some of the stories sound fantastic but I have learned over the years that the old adage “Truth is stranger than fiction” is certainly correct in a houseful of children.
There are times I look back and wonder how in the world we all survived. The stories started out as “Six” in the morning because there were six children every morning to dress, feed, and get into the van for school. We have added one to the herd, and for about fourteen years our grandson lived with us, so we count eight. We are down to three in our house BUT have now added GRANDchildren to the mix.
When our kids were little, we started the numbering system. We counted them leaving the house to make sure no one was left behind. We counted them after church to make sure no one was left behind. We did lose one at church once. Everyone was helping us look. Turns out he had gotten into the wrong van and was asleep on their seat! I hate to admit but in those counting years, I also left one at school but was reminded by another astute counter, as I turned into the driveway that I had forgotten someone.
Counting systems also worked when we wanted to discuss someone and not let them know. “Your # 3 got into trouble at school today.” Unfortunately, it didn’t take them too long to figure that one out, so we turned to pig latin for a few years. Once the older ones figured that one out they taught the younger ones and it was no longer effective except to make someone laugh.
And we did laugh over the years. Our holidays are filled with stories of how the old rooster chased # 6 around the house screaming or how # 5 was going to be a sportscaster and practiced on every event in the day. Or how #’s 2,3,4,5, and 6 went out to cut the dead snake to bits to feed the ants way out in the ditch down the road and # 1 danced her way over hot coals in the backyard. ONE time. The others declare that #’s 7 and 8 are totally spoiled and they are – exactly like #’s 1-6 were spoiled.
I have a sign in my kitchen that reads, “Having children is like being pecked to death by a chicken.” I can’t really add to it because it is so true. One either laughs or cries. I have always found it easier to laugh over absurd things that happen in a house full of children. Not that I haven’t cried. I have cried buckets and nearly worn out my knees talking to God.
God is a big part of our lives and my constant source of comfort. The teen years were/are trying but I think we are all going to be fine. # 1 has her own company selling real estate and mothering three of our grandchildren. # 2 is finishing college and engaged to a wonderful girl. # 3 is an amazing mother and photographer. # 4 has returned to us for a short while and is aggravating # 8 for us. # 5 is protecting others in west Texas. I totally support our Policemen. # 6 is in college and blossoming. # 7 is back living with his parents. AND # 8 is keeping us young with his DAILY trombone practice.
Our world is changing, and I don’t always feel as young as I once did. I get discouraged and think all is going to ruin but then, I attend a band concert and see the smiling faces of 53 Jr. High kids blatting and shrieking out their first Christmas concert and I realize that as long as we have family and God, nothing else really matters that much.
Thank you for letting me share our stories with you for the past five years.