We didn’t do the math.
Four children and two adults is not nearly enough adults.
Bryan and I have to divide and conquer in order to cover our bases. Usually, this works just fine. People have stopped asking us, “Where’s your husband?” or “Is Anna coming?” unless they want the full run-down of where all of our kids are at that moment in time. Our kids are accustomed to having just one parent at the track meet or school production or dance recital. Bryan and I hardly ever being at the same events doesn’t mean that we don’t find what our kids are doing to be interesting; it just means that we’re stretched a little thin.
Most days, I’m able to remember that having a bunch of siblings is great for my kids. They know for certain that they are not the center of the universe. They have built-in companions that will be by their side for decades. Siblings are probably the best thing I have ever given to any of my kids.
Some days, though, I feel like we’re letting our kids down.Today, it was hard for me to miss Caroline’s track meet, but our other kids needed me. So, Bryan and I decided to play to our strengths: he handles athletics and I handle academics and fine arts. Caro would be fine without me there; she would have her dad, her coaches and her teammates there to encourage and advise her. Nonetheless, she was on my mind all day.
This is one of the hard parts of having a bunch of kids: you can’t give any one kid your undivided attention. Caroline only had our full attention for 15 months and then we had Caleb. A few years later, we went through a really quick adoption process and doubled the number of kids we had in a weekend.
Every year, on April 12th, we celebrate “Home Day,” the day we brought the twins home from the hospital. We tell the twins the story of how we first met them and how we became this family that God meant us to be. This year at our family dinner, the big kids said such sweet and loving things about the twins. They talked about how glad they were that we were this big family, even though our lives are pretty messy.
Today, I held onto their kindness towards the twins and remembered that my brothers are one of the greatest gifts my parents could have ever given me. My brothers make me laugh like no one else can. They are quick to remind me of my flaws and even quicker to forgive me for them. My brothers are some of my truest friends, even though we sometimes disagree and I often need to be reminded that I’m not the boss of them. They can say things to me that no one else can say. They keep me grounded and honest.
A few days ago, I was talking to my brother Clay about missing Caroline’s track meet and how it
might be for the best since I have a history of giving her questionable running advice. When she was in middle school, they would run cross country meets right after school, which meant that it was brutally hot for most of the season. Caro would sprint so hard at the end that she’d have to grab onto one of our arms when she crossed the finish line because she literally couldn’t see. It scared me and I’d often tell her, “Slow down. If you start seeing spots, don’t go faster! There’s no shame in walking to the finish line.”
Lately, as she’s been really pushing herself in the mile, she says that most of her body goes numb towards the end of the race. I keep insisting that she veer off the track the next time that happens. I tell her that numbness is her body’s way of telling her to stop running. She should just veer onto the grass and we will find a medic.
My brother found this to be terrible advice; something about it being a formula for losing or being unhelpful advice for people who actually want to win. I laughed and told him that she doesn’t listen to me anyway regarding sports, but she does listen to her uncles. She has a note from my brother Miles pinned to her bulletin board in her room that says, “Proud of you, keep hustlin’! Much love, Uncle Miles.” That’s much better advice than I give her.
In the end, our day worked out just fine. Caroline qualified for the state meet in two events and Bryan loved being there with her. I was so glad that I made it to Caleb’s drama club banquet, especially since he received some awards and I would have felt awful if neither of his parents were there.
When we all got back home that night, Caroline and Caleb were quick to congratulate each other and make a big deal about the other’s accomplishments. It made me really happy to see them laughing in the kitchen together; it made me grateful for siblings who become the best of friends.