Six years ago, when we moved into our first real house, we bought a lovely brown leather sectional for our family room. It was the first piece of furniture that we bought ourselves. Up until that point everything was either hand-me-down, or purchased for us. When we bought the couch, we spent an extra two hundred bucks for the extended lifetime warranty which was supposed to cover accidental damage. Well, last week I got a reply from the couch company regarding my repair claim. I wanted them to come and fix a big tear in the back of the couch and two holes in the arms of the couch where the leather had worn through. Guess what? They won't come fix it. Shocker, I know. Apparently the warranty doesn't cover wear and tear, only accidental damage. I asked the kids how the back of the couch got ripped and they said they "accidentally" forgot not to climb over the back of the couch. I guess that's not accidental enough. What does the couch company not understand about "lifetime" warranty? I'm alive. I still own the couch. Oh well. I wasn't holding my breath when I sent in the claim.
I forward Ben the rejection letter the couch company sent me, and here's his reply to me:
"Well...that BITES! Looks like we need a new couch...all at a time when we have no money to do so...it's always the way. It was a nice couch while it lasted...we could use some duct tape? Maybe they make it in brown? I was just thinking that it's funny that we're "that" family. Tons of kids...broken stuff all over the house...hodge podge furniture...Isn't it great? I love us.
If that doesn't bring tears to your eyes, then I don't know what will.
And that's when it hit me. We are "that" family. I never thought I would be. I surely didn't write a plan for how this would all play out. But over time and ever so subtly, we have become "that family."
Last week I sent Liam into public with plaid shorts and a blue shirt, only the blue shirt wasn't quite the right blue to match the shorts. I didn't want to dig through laundry piles to find the matching one.
Seth has two favorite pairs of shoes. Yellow and black Nike's that don't match a single thing in his wardrobe, and a pair of Sariah's old beat up pink Minnie Mouse Crocs. Yes, he wears them in public. For a couple reasons actually. 1. He can put them on by himself requiring no bending, stretching or lifting on my part. 2. I'm too tired to fight with him. I don't want to hear the screaming fit that most definitely ensues when he doesn't get the shoes he wants. I've put those Crocs in the shoe box in the garage several times now. The little bugger keeps digging them out.
For the last couple of days Sariah has insisted on wearing pants that are total floods to school. She has a drawer full of Meilani's old clothes, cute outfits, that she flatly refuses to wear. Today we compromised. She wore the floods rolled up to look like capris, holes in the knees and all. Meilani commented that Sariah looked "so designer." That made me feel a little better.
Poor Eli looses a shirt to Liam almost daily. He's so skinny and tries to wear t-shirts he's had for a while but are way too short now. Too bad none of the shirts match those blue plaid shorts!
Meilani regularly recites one of Ben's favorite mottos: "Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without." Usually she does so after asking for something she knows she doesn't really need, or that I won't spend money on.
This morning, contemplating my new found "that family" status, I analyzed my Costco purchase:
5 dozen eggs
4 gallons of milk (one will surely be "spilled" all over the floor)
4 loafs of bread
Yep, "that family."
Then I thought of other things. Like how I'm daily amazed at the shear amount of dirt and crumbs on the kitchen floor. Or how we eat on paper plates all the time because there's no way we'd ever be able to keep up on the dishes if we ate on real plates. How about the pile of dirty socks the sweet gardener leaves by the back door after he mows the backyard grass? All signs of "that family."
So, while I like to appear that I've got it all together, the truth is I don't. I've come to realize that giant sized families, by necessity, have to let some things go in order to survive. There will likely always be shoes on the floor, just in front of the shoe shelf, for the foreseeable future, and computer speakers that no longer emit sound because some pip squeak thought the speaker would make a great piggy bank. I think my children believe that "throw pillow" is a literal term, and that "don't eat on the carpet" is a subtle suggestion.
While I was shopping this morning, struggling with Seth who kept climbing out of the buckle in the cart, some lady walked by me, noticing my large protruding belly, and said "And you want another one?" I was caught up with wrestling Seth to digest what she said quickly enough. I gave her a sarcastic smirk as I turned the corner. The moment passed too quickly and I couldn't bring myself to tell her that this will be number six for us, like I usually do, or that YES, I do want another one, because fighting with a 2 year old only lasts for a second in the grand scheme of things, and his strong opinion and Houdini like skills are kind of funny!
In the day to day struggle of life Ben and I sometimes sing the words of this country song to the other when one of us is about to loose it:
"You're gonna miss this, you're gonna want this back, you're gonna wish these days hadn't gone by so fast. These are some good times, so take a good look around, you may not know it now, but you're gonna miss this."
I know it's true. Some day I'll crave to be poked by sharp elbows climbing on me for a story, or will lay in bed wishing little voices had woken me up.
We are "that family." I'll embrace it.
I love us too, broken couches, dirty faces and all.
It's a great life.