My husband and I have been parenting children in our home for a lot of years – 34, to be exact. Somehow, when we started having kids all those years ago my math brain quit working. When we had our last, 18 years into this experiment, I didn’t stop to think that 18 (the number of parenting years we already had under our belts) + 20 (the additional number of years it would take for the newest baby to be ready to launch) = 38 (total years of parenting from start to finish). Thirty-eight years of parenting, minimum, until the last one would finally leave the nest – what were we thinking? Some of you are saying, “I know what you were thinking. Nudge, nudge, wink, wink.”
Really, it was more like, we knew what we were thinking in that moment. We knew after our fourth and fifth babies that our family was not complete. We knew, even as we held baby number six in our arms as a fresh and tiny newborn, that there was yet one more baby to come, and it wasn’t just me being ‘baby-hungry.’ Hubby felt it, too.
We may not be footloose and fancy free like so many of our friends who had fewer children, but I am pretty sure I can say we have had more adventures.
There was the scream early one morning as a daughter fell out of bed, landing just right to break her collarbone. While at the hospital waiting for the x-ray, we discovered that she was also breaking out in chickenpox. When her older sister came home from school for lunch I checked her out – and she, too, had red spots on her tummy. That was a good day *roll the eyes.*
Or how about the time we got the phone call from a parent who was volunteering with the grade five ski lessons to say that our older daughter had fallen and hurt her wrist but ‘she was fine.’ When she got home we discovered it was both wrists – and x-rays showed she had greenstick fractured both of them! (Explaining that to her ballet teacher, with competitions only 10 weeks away, was interesting!)
Then there was the time when a stranger came to the door with two of our sons, ages nine and seven. The boys had been playing at the playground a block away. The seven year old had parachuted off the swing, landed on his arm, and had quite obviously broken it. He said his parachute (jacket) didn’t open right. The stranger said, “I think you should take him to the hospital.” No duh!
One of the cutest, not-a-broken-bone-stories happened when our oldest two were four and two years, respectively. The two year old was being a two year old and the four year old was getting annoyed at him. The older one came to me and said, “Mom, he’s pushing my luck.” The look on his face told me this was not a laughing matter.
Then there was the time, just a few years ago, when one of our adult sons was struggling. His younger brother said he wanted to help and told us of a time when they were in elementary school. It was raining and blowing really hard while they were walking home. The older brother told the younger one to tuck in behind him and hold on. The older one did the very best eight-year-old job of protecting his little brother from the storm for those four blocks to get him home safely – and some 15 years later the younger one still felt a debt of love to his brother.
Yes, I could entertain you with stories of the high adventures or tender moments of parenting for a very long time, and I’m sure that over the next few years as we prepare our last two children to head out on their own, we will add yet a few more chapters to the anthology. Even though my math head went out the window while we were having babies, I wouldn’t, even on the most stressful and heart-wrenching parenting day, trade any of it for anything in the world.
How many years will you be (or were you) parenting minor children? What is your favorite parenting story?