When the magical day arrived and our two families became one, we knew that our task was not for the faint of heart. Eleven Independent Variables (or as I like to call them, Entropy Accelerators) make life interesting on a consistent basis. But when you factor in outside influences, the tally of possible situations increases exponentially.
A couple of weeks after the wedding, the children went to church camp. They had the time of their lives. They made new friends, got some sun, one of them surrendered to Jesus. Good times. Fast forward a month. “Mom, my head itches.”
“It’s the heat and sweat, baby. Wash your hair.”
“Mom, my head still itches.”
“Must be dandruff. Try this shampoo.”
“Mom, my head really itches.”
The cold realization gripped us and we looked. And our hearts sank.
My plans for the evening suddenly changed. Instead of a relaxing family evening, we were stripping beds, spraying furniture, cutting hair, an emergency run to the store for Rid shampoo, washing, combing six long haired girls (LONG hair. Not just shoulder length.) Researching, Thinking, wondering where in the world…??? Camp. It was the only thing we could think of that was different in our routine. By the way, as much fun as camp is, I am beginning to rethink the whole idea for my children. The last time the blue eyes went to camp, they came home with impetigo. This time, lice. It would seem that the risk/benefit ratio isn’t in our favor. Because what is an annoyance to a smaller family becomes a Big Deal in a really large family like ours. The jury is still out on that one.
We made it, after many long nights and extra loads of laundry. Bug free. And just about the time we were sounding the all clear and coming back into polite society…
“Mommy, my tummy hurts.”
There wasn’t much discussion on that one. The projectile vomit spoke for itself.
I really should be taking pictures and making a baby scrapbook for our fledgling family.
First trip to the movies together. (That was different. One small person decided that the movie didn’t suit, and stood on their head and fussed the entire time.)
First dinner at a restaurant together (one large person had a chip on their shoulder and fought with anyone seated near them the entire time. Nearly was banished to Siberia).
First experience with lice (The picture would include girls with clear plastic shower caps covering tea tree and coconut oil soaked hair, along with mountains of laundry).
First stomach virus (not sure how you would take a picture of me in three different rooms at once helping four vomiting children. That did happen, in defiance of all known laws of physics). Yes, as far as sheer excitement, the stomach virus takes the cake.
Another new venture that should go in our family baby book is my metamorphosis into a Sports Mom. It is not yet complete- I haven’t volunteered for anything yet- but getting the whole crew and my two manly football players to their practices four days a week is a logistical task that rivals Moses’ exodus. A whole city on the move. And their stuff. We can’t just hang out and watch the practice, or play on the playscape or the nearby field. We must also bring along coloring books to blow away, toys to forget and lose, water and snacks to spill and fight over. If I didn’t also pack my sense of humor and my patience, it would be a long and painful endeavor.
I have to say, that is one thing that is absolutely indispensable to me about my hero. His sense of humor. Life with kids requires a good one, and life with lots of kids demands a Saturday Night Live brand of zany, kooky, off-the-cuff nuttiness. We have a lot of fun. Heads up to any intrepid potential babysitters: the children are learning well from their father. The pranking has begun. (Shaving cream in the hand and a feather to the nose for teens that won’t get out of bed, anyone?) Oh, the squeals and shouts and running for dear life before brother or sister catches me. But the madness and mayhem are the sounds of two broken families becoming one whole; they are the sounds of healing and hope.
Yes, I really should start a family baby book.