People often say to me, I don’t know how you do it with 7 kids.
And to be honest, sometimes I don’t either.
When I found out I was pregnant with Number 6, I was a little panicked.
Actually, a lot panicked.
Especially when he started out as twins.
It wasn’t exactly planned.
The day after I had that first ultrasound and found out there wasn’t just one baby, but there were actually two,
I was sitting in the dentist’s office while Number 4 had her first check up.
I was so freaked out still, that I told the hygienist all about it.
It was our first time in that office.
I started crying.
Well, I must have been there for a reason. That sweet hygienist was one of nine kids.
And she said to me,
“Having 8 brothers and sisters was the biggest gift my mother ever gave me.”
And then she started crying.
It turned into a regular old Steel Magnolias moment in that office.
But the hygienist put me at ease.
And I hope it’s the same for my kids.
I really hope the relationships they have with each other now carry through to adulthood.
Because, in my experience, the people who are there for you once middle school, and high school, and college are finished,
when your boyfriend dumps you,
or you do something stupid,
or you go through a divorce,
or you are in serious financial trouble,
are your family members.
And the other day, I was in the yard with the kids.
Number 5 was driving Number 7 around in the Barbie jeep.
Number 3 was teaching Number 6 how to play baseball.
Number 1 was cutting the grass, and Number 4 was doing her own thing on the swing.
It was a really wonderful moment.
And when the kids look back on their childhoods,
I hope those are the snapshots they have in their heads.
The kids are lucky to have each other.
But there is one thing that has been really difficult for me to manage with more than a handful of kids.
One-on-one time with them.
When Number 4 broke her elbow, I told her we’d have a “special day.”
After her cast came off we’d go celebrate.
Before school started.
Just the two of us.
Then we got the news that the cast would be on until the second day of school.
I had pinky promised that special August day,
so I kept my word.
It didn’t have to be a castoff special day.
I’ve been pretty open about our financial difficulties.
Number 4 wanted to go to a spa, have our hair and nails done, go to the movies, and then go out to eat.
I told her that didn’t quite fit in the budget.
Plus, we didn’t have the whole day; we only had a few hours.
Since money has been really, really tight for the past couple years, we never go out to eat.
We also never go to the mall.
I haven’t bought clothes for the kids, except for shoes, in almost 2 years.
Everything they have right now has been handed down from friends and relatives, or given to them by Grammy and Papa.
So, we went to the mall.
I showed Number 4 where the sales racks were in every store.
We went to the Gap.
We found a skirt and a top in those two clearance racks at the way back of the store.
She loved them.
She jumped and twirled and skipped around.
She was beaming, and so happy.
I bought her an outfit that cost a total of $12.97,
and she felt like this
We walked around the mall a little, holding hands the whole time.
We went to the fountain at the center of the mall, and Number 4 asked for a penny.
She threw it in and said,
“Mom, I made a wish, but it really already came true. Because I’m having the best day ever already.”
I squeezed her hand and tried not to start bawling right there.
We were going to eat at the Cheesecake Factory.
We waited until 2:00 to have lunch, but even then, it was totally packed, and there was still over an hour wait.
I was a little bummed.
I’ve never been there, and I didn’t want to have to resort to Ruby Tuesdays.
But Number 4 has never really been anywhere, and when we walked into Ruby Tuesdays, and she saw that it was “the kind of place where a waiter brings you a menu!” well, she was beside herself.
I had such a good time with her.
She relished every second of her meal.
And she did some serious chair dancing.
We also read about Mount Everest. And did a word scramble.
We spent 3 hours together.
An afternoon that other kids would take for granted, that other kids may even expect on a regular basis, was a very special experience for Number 4.
One that she doesn’t take for granted,
In fact, she said to me,
“Hey Mom! Maybe we can do this once a year! Can we do that?”
I think we can do that.
Maybe these money problems we’re having aren’t such a bad thing.
Having an empty bank account sucks.
But a child full of gratitude?
Well, money sure can’t buy that.
VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE! VOTE!!!