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The broader mark

He that raises a large family does, indeed, while he lives to observe them, stand a broader mark for sorrow; but then he stands a broader mark for pleasure too.

~Benjamin Franklin

If we had stopped when we had a girl and a boy, we would have missed:

Celebrating Sam’s 6th birthday at the gravesite of Buffalo Bill (his idea)
Tommy’s rendition of Charlie Chaplin
Joel being Just Joel
Beatrix and Golden
Archie mastering Photo Booth on the Mac at age 2
Teddy’s sweet smiles
Joel’s broken arm
Tommy’s orbital cellulitis
Sam’s glomerulonephritis
Watching Joel eat an ice cream cone sideways
Beatrix filling our basement stairway with drawings done with dry erase marker
4 pregnancy losses
Mad manatee knowledge thanks to Sam
The ninja dance
Joel’s New Year Resolution to make his bed on Wednesdays
Tommy drinking a gallon of lemonade at Six Flags
Archie unloading the dishwasher
Teddy snuggling all night long
Beatrix sharing her dreams every morning
Joel’s Nutella nose
Having to buy lactose-free milk
Marveling at Sam’s ability to slice holes in the knees of all his pants
3 trips to the ER in one day
Buying so many school supplies, we need 2 carts
Driving our ginormous van, The Brick
Fitting Joel for a pot to wear on his head for a Johnny Appleseed costume
Hearing Beatrix pronounce the word pink as pank
Painting a pank nose on Beatrix for Halloween
Painting her teeny toenails with Hello Kitty Brand polish, pank
Holding Tommy as he came out of anesthesia
Making coffee with cream and sugar for Tommy and Joel on Saturday mornings
Watching Sam stick bits of American cheese to his face
Decorating Tommy and Joel’s monkey room, once upon a time
Observing Beatrix and Archie turn into friends before she’s off to Kindergarten
Joel teaching Beatrix letter sounds in a panic she won’t be ready for the rigors Kindergarten
Teddy’s enormous pouty lips when he’s miffed
Getting to enjoy how Pampers have evolved over 14 years and counting
Getting to enjoy the style improvements in maternity clothes
Matchy-matchy Easter outfits times many
Living in this house
Being counted in public
Having to wait for tables in restaurants
Winning cakewalks because the odds are in our favor
Skippyjon Jones
Washing Hello Kitty sheets
Archie in the NICU
Teddy in the NICU
3 c-sections
The Tiger Butt incident
10 more pregnancies
An iffy gallbladder
14 years of keeping hooded baby towels in the linen closet
Tommy and Joel spending a week together in isolation when they had H1N1
Frozen waffles in the VCR
Joel’s purple, then brown front tooth
Sam’s elephant collection
The way Tommy folds socks
Having to explain to 3 little boys our new baby was gone in a midwife’s office as The Jungle Book played on her TV
Thinking Archie was going to die when I saw the looks on the NICU nurses’ faces as he was admitted
Experiencing a month of bedrest with Teddy

Naming 6 more people
Feeding 6 more people
Dressing 6 more people
Educating 6 more people
Loving 6 more people
Knowing the the heart and home somehow make room.

Having my patience stretched
Having our money stretched
Extra-bonus sleepless nights
We exceed the color-coded rings and stickers at Target’s pharmacy.
I share yellow with Archie.

Hand-me-down clothes are the rule
But I buy new shoes.

(if you read this yesterday, you might think something is missing. it is. I edited. because I can.)

13 comments to The broader mark

  • Family size is such a personal decision. We had a girl first, and two 1/2 years later had a boy – I can’t even remember all the times we heard, “Oh, a girl and a boy – perfect!” People tend to assume that we’re “done” since, with two children, we have a girl and a boy. Besides, having more than two children is expensive and exhausting and outrageous and downright odd…but I don’t think we’re “done.”

  • Shayne

    “Winning cakewalks because the odds are in our favor.”

    This one especially made me laugh. My two boys are eternally frustrated by their inability to win the cakewalk at our annual school fundraiser because the odds are decidedly NOT in their favor!

  • jenni

    You’ve inspired me to make my own list…

  • Loved it. Absolutely.

  • Mom

    I can’t imagine life without each one. They are all such a blessing.

  • I love this so.much. What an amazing list.

  • Megan

    A little chaotic, quite a few blessings, tied together by lots and lots of LOVE!

  • amy

    Lists are magic. What did I miss? Come on now…

  • edj

    Man! That’ll teach me not to read blogs everyday! You can only add, not subtract, to your lists! 😉

  • we keep trying to decide if we are done. it is an impossible decision. my brain says yes but my heart says no. i love this post and i love your mom’s comment.

  • Oh, this made me smile: So grateful, honest, and humorous. We just had our first girl (child #4), and many also assume that we are done, now that we “finally” have a daughter. Like Erin, though, my heart certainly doesn’t feel done; I wonder who else might fill family photos someday, who else I might be blessed to get to know and raise…

  • I like this list because it acknowledges some of the challenges of large family life but with an attitude of gratefulness. I need to work on cultivating that attitude more often. And of course I’m curious about what was edited because I was away from the computer for four glorious days.

  • umm…are you pregnant again?

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