Thursday, October 11, 2012


Every so often I find myself very aware that the life my children lead is, well, different

Our family is big, it's interracial, it includes two children with Down syndrome, and my kids are all relatively close in age--by March, we'll have eight children ages nine and under.  Different indeed.

The kids of course don't really know our family is atypical yet, because everything is somewhat normalized for them--we have lots of friends who have adopted, or who have four or more children.  Most of our closest friends homeschool.  Many of our good friends are Catholic. 

Don't believe me that my kids think all of the above is perfectly normal and common?  When we arrived at a family member's home recently to find a neighbor's son playing in their yard, my kids excitedly asked if they'd adopted a little boy.  Because that is, you know, just another day in the life of Anytown, USA.

Now eventually my children will reach an age where they discover that it's really not all that common to own a fifteen-passenger van (short of working for a furniture delivery company).  Our heart's desire is that they themselves will continue to embrace a love for life, but I am also aware that living with people--especially lots of people--requires sacrifice and hard work, and that we're not always one big happy family.  Because sometimes we are, quite frankly, one big chaotic and grouchy family.

So it is extra important, I think, for families in our situation to regularly and intentionally reflect on the positive things we see happening in our homes.  With more kids there is simply the potential for more drama, more tattling, and more mess, and it is thus easy to become discouraged or overwhelmed.  It can be tempting for example to think the grass is greener over at so-and-so's house, or to wonder how on earth everything will possibly turn out. 

My oldest child recently auditioned for a choir solo.  I was honestly surprised when she told me that only a few kids in her co-op class period tried out, and she was one of them, and she stood in front of the entire class and sang by herself.  She's never auditioned for anything before, much less sung alone in front of a group.  And, she's eight.  So that is kind of a big deal.

We were of course crazy proud of her, and told her so.   But then this past week, I received an email stating that she was not selected for the part.  And I admit that my heart sank a little bit because she can be shy in certain settings and had really gone out on a limb, and I'd so hoped for her to be rewarded for it.

But you know what happened when I told her that she had unfortunately not gotten the solo?  She said she was disappointed.  She said she felt she had done well, but had maybe sung high when she was supposed to have sung low.  (Which made me laugh.  The kid is just funny sometimes.)  And then do you know what she said?

"Well I'm going to keep trying for this stuff until I get something!"


I admit that I was not entirely sure where her optimistic determination came from--it was really her first time facing this sort of thing.  And so I initially found myself stunned by her positive, take-it-in-stride, don't-give-up attitude.  But as I thought more about it later, it occurred to me that the girl is just completely and utterly confident in who she is.

And part of that is, in her case, due to being a big sister to several little ones...who positively adore her.

Not a day goes by when she doesn't get someone a sippy cup during a meal or change a diaper or have an adoring baby sister beg for her to tuck them in for naps.  She regularly has multiple brothers and sisters asking her to play.  No matter what kind of day she's having, there are always lots of small people looking up to her, who mostly think she can do no wrong.  She has a place in this family that includes responsibility and relationships, and she knows that her work, her attitude, and her presence are needed.  And appreciated.  And, she knows she is loved.

Of course in the grand scheme of things, the choir is really not a huge deal.  My kids only attend this program once a week for enrichment, so it's not like this is on my daughter's radar screen every single day (as compared to public school).  But still it was one of those moments where I was just so incredibly humbled and encouraged because yes, big families may come with their own set of challenges, but they also come with a lot of love and opportunity for character building.  God created the family unit, after all, and He will certainly be faithful to work in and through it to bring forth beauty and grace. 

And what a blessing to have the occasional reminder--or seven. 


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