The Gift of a Larger Family

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But what is considered a large family?

You know you have a big family when you are repeatedly asked by grocery store clerks if you are having a party…”actually, everyday is a party at my house.”   And this, indeed, is true. Our family needs plenty of healthy snacks for budding athletes and busy toddlers and a mom who is nursing a baby.  One day an older gentleman in the grocery line poked an elbow at his wife and said,” Look at all that milk!” pointing to my over flowing cart… we go through 4 litres of milk daily at our home and are fortunate enough to be able to afford the necessary supply.  The aged woman was obviously disturbed at this little exclamation by her beloved, but I offered a reassuring smile and began a conversation about my family. I loved it! I find it a privilege to speak about my household anytime, and I feel so blessed that God has provided so well for my husband and I (I mean primarily in terms of provision of children, not finances but He has provided us in that way, too).

Again and again in our family life, my husband and I are outdone in generosity by our heavenly Father.  There was the time when our neighbour (a lawyer) provided us with top rate legal services incredibly cheaply when we dared to take our local department of social services to task during their attempts to put our foster daughter’s best interests behind political initiatives.  This young child is now our adopted daughter, thanks be to God.

When our youngest son was born prematurely with a diagnosis of Down Syndrome and I subsequently spent several weeks in hospital with aspiration pneumonia, family, friends and strangers took over running the household and met our family needs which were abundant.  As we all know as mothers, people continue to need to be fed, clothed and comforted, especially at the most trying times.

You know you have a big family when the volume discounts always apply be it at supermarket dollar days, restaurants, and family holidays. At least this is what you tell yourself (and in my case, my husband) when the bill for a single family evening out matches the total monthly entertainment budget.

You know you have a big family when you and your husband transfer some parenting tasks to the “older kids.” There are the three categories of children at our house; the older kids, the little kids and the babies. I have a feeling these labels will be sticking even as the children grow older. One evening I was putting our little Peter to sleep in our bed.  My husband lay beside us from sheer exhaustion and we all were out.  A few hours later, we awoke to our 17 year old son yelling down the stairs to the babies and the little kids, “Shouldn’t you kids be in bed?” The “babies” had been playing piano and all manner of making noise. ”Should we intervene?” We parents looked at each other, paused briefly, and went back to sleep. Ah, the carefree life of the parents in a big family.

You know you have a big family when you and your husband are frequently mistaken for the grandparents. Let’s just say that we get to practice the virtue of humility. But who wouldn’t want to be associated with my terrific bunch one way or another? But when I am really older and in good shape from continuing to run a household, exercising my brain cells with high school math – then, we’ll see who gets the last laugh. Everyday of my life is a gift.  If I live long enough to be raising my loved ones in the next decade, well, what a lucky lady I will be.

Big families frequent free family swim times at local outdoor pools in the summer.  I in my shades and Dad in his cap, we are the spiffiest of tourists just barely out of our own back yard. We just go to that happy place where we are relaxed by the pool and again thankful for those sometimes hard fought swimming lessons (especially for the big kids). They are really paying off. ”Pass that water bottle, honey.”

You know you have a big family when everyone yearns for their own room (including mom and dad) but are faced with the certain knowledge that, in the lifetime of this family at least, there is absolutely no chance of that happy occurrence. But our Father in Heaven is readying a place for us.  If we don’t have our own rooms now, perhaps we will have them to enjoy on the other side. If not, well, I guess we have already learned to share.

You know a large family because they always have other families over to their home. They are the first to volunteer themselves (or perhaps more frequently their kids) for all manner of service in the Church, community and family. Generosity in openness to life spills over in every other aspect of family life.  Large families open themselves up to even more opportunities for selfless unconditional love.

But large families aren’t really measured by numbers. Indeed, you are a part of a big family even when you are a widow, a lonely teenager, an aged couple or a single father.  The Body of Christ is the largest of families, and if we learn to live with each other in Christ in this life then we can certainly anticipate an unparalleled family reunion in the next. Amen.

Copyright 2011 Cathy Craig

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1 Comment

  1. We’ve got five, a true handful, and never a dull moment. I wouldn’t give up one of them, even though life can be unbelievably busy most days. I nodded in agreement with many of your points, especially the one about sharing a room. I just think of how generous they will be able to be as adults for having suffered this. 🙂

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