I remember wondering what life was like for my mother, who grew up in a very large family. I had three brothers and had what was considered an average family size at the time. Forty years later, I have a large family, when the average number of children is about two. People are curious about us. When they find out we have ten children, we hear, “Wow…how many?” or “Are they all yours?” or “I have one and I can barely keep up with him!” or comments about their own personal decisions on family size. No one has ever been unkind. People want to relate, to understand, and to be understood.
Life is very busy, but in truth I couldn’t imagine it otherwise. Sometimes I’ll sit at the dinner table and count our children to confirm that there really are that many! Ten is a wonderful number. Each of our children is loved and treasured and unique. I remember when I had my first: Marie was the center of my world for two years. At the time, I couldn’t imagine loving anyone else like that, but then Susanna came along and, my goodness, I sure did!
Emily and Sharon were ten and thirteen when I met them. The moment I realized I loved Bruce, I loved them. It didn’t matter if they were adorable and funny and bright and well-behaved--which they were--it was bigger than that. They were a part of the man I loved, and so I loved them. That love has only deepened and grown. They are absolutely incredible young women and they make life so special. I am very proud of them.
Bruce and I were almost forty when we married, and we loved the thought of having another child. We understood that, realistically, we could be unable to have children and might need to adopt. We were able to have more, more than we imagined! Six in about eight years. God had a lot of work to get done in a short amount of time, I guess. Yes, I am tired often, but we are greatly blessed. I have friends who have grandchildren, who travel a lot, who play golf a few times a week, who have seemingly unlimited free time. I’m human and not exempt from whining a bit, but I wouldn’t trade places. This is right for us.
Today, Max and Gus were sick and stayed home from school. I told Ben that I’d drive him to Kindergarten and stop first at McDonald’s. We had fun and actually dined in. I could see the little groups of elderly male regulars, all smiling at Ben. Were they thinking of their grandchildren, or their children? Were they remembering what it was to be five? They watched as he bumbled around, gazing at the soda machine and the case of featured “Happy Meal” toys. Mom had to redirect him a few times toward the menu board and his order. Ben picked a booth right beside a group of silver-haired men animatedly discussing local commerce. More smiles. Ben worked at his giant breakfast while Mom watched him and listened, and imagined his life the future.
Will he be a husband, a father, a grandfather? God willing, Ben will live to a ripe old age. Perhaps he’ll have a weekly breakfast with old friends. One day, maybe a little boy will come into the restaurant with his mother, and Ben will find himself smiling, thinking back to life in a big family, to being five years old, and to a time when he and Mom made time stop for just a little while.
God Bless you,
The Abbey Farm