“Of all the awkward people in your house or job,
there is only one whom you can improve very much.” – C.S. Lewis
Between us: six kids, five kids-in-law, 14 grandkids, my mother, and additional extensions from there. Currently, geographically, we cover a minimum of five states – north, south and east and west. It’s been a delicate dance over these past 30 years. It’s been a balance, a compromise, a learning curve. It’s been grace on all sides.
We’ve experienced babies born, college graduations and all in between with the 14 grandchildren ranging from one year to 30+ years old.
We’ve seen pain, divorce, marriage, hardship, career change, job loss, joy, love, hurt feelings, misunderstandings, new relationships, old relationships revived, and irrevocably broken relationships.
We’ve attempted family reunions. If memory serves, I’m pretty sure we never had 100% at any reunion, wedding or vacation. I think our best count was at my hubby’s surprise party a couple of years ago – 23 made it. And two grandchildren have been added to the brood since then. But it’s about relationships and we’ll take what we can get at any given time.
We are all different, so very different! Viva la difference? Maybe, maybe not. The variances abound, from theological to political to education to parenting to music to sports and beyond. It makes for some great discussions or polite avoidance. But we have all chosen grace.
It’s not been an easy ride – starting off on the wrong foot with two split families. None of us knew what we were doing, what we were supposed to do, or how to do it. We went slowly, every step of the way. We blundered, we failed, we cried, we got angry. We were offended, we offended. But constantly, God showed His grace, even when we weren’t looking.
We are learning when to speak and what to say. But more importantly, we are learning to be quiet and listen. And there has been healing, so much healing. No one, and I mean no one, thirty years ago, believed there would be healing.
Granted, we never all lived together. Hubby’s four never claimed our home as theirs. However, that being said, there were times – like when my son got married and 12 of hubby’s kids and grandkids stayed at our house with us. (Then some of us headed to Colorado for camping the next day – but that’s another story!) And when hubby’s youngest came with his gang – wife and four kids – staying with us several days. Three of those days we just had the four kids and I told my daughter I’d pay her to stay home from work to help us. We were headed to City Museum STL and I knew, I JUST KNEW we’d lose someone amid all those tunnels and slides! My step-daughter for a while had an antique business. She would come to STL for buying trips. What fun we had, mapping, strategizing, dividing and conquering early morning stake outs at estate sales; wheeling and dealing with vendors, Starbucks stops. We’ve had Thanksgivings and Christmas’s over the years with a variety of family, all different personalities, all under our roof, all ours!
Our hearts (and often our home) are brimming with love!
There are common denominators between us and our children: faith, sin, and grace. And we pray for the next generation, those who have embraced our faith and those yet to commit.
It’s a journey, as all life is, as many people quote. It’s a book not yet completed, with many chapters yet to go. I’m looking forward to “the rest of the story”. So far, I think we’ve “blended” pretty well.
“Family is not just blood, it’s about all the people
you chose to let into your life.
Family is about support and working through things.”
– Claire Bennett (my step-granddaughter)