Thursday, September 15, 2011

"That" Family

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'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.


April said...

I feel a lot of the same feelings having #4! I can only imagine the feelings you must be having. I get strange looks every time someone finds out I'm pregnant with my fourth kid.

We just had the inside of our house painted and I was truly embarrassed the entire time by the amount of dirt that he kept painting over, or the drawings on the walls, or the "who knows what" he found when he moved ALL our furniture around, or the number of times I had to ask him to REPAINT because the kids couldn't keep their fingers off the wet walls! I love your family would give anything to spend some time on your broken sofa, chatting with you!

Kristie said...

I love that you are "that family" it just reminds me of my big fat family. I love that when I feel like my life is going to shards, that someone (you) else know just how I feel and will make me laugh and give me encouragement to keep going.

John and Stef said...

I love this post. You articulate things so well. I truly think you should write a book on motherhood. You're great Danelle.

Farley Smiles said...

So well stated Danelle, you hit it right on the head and I'm pretty sure you and Ben used to look at us as "that family" with "that" look on your faces when I had 5 and you still only had 4! I wish I could say it so clearly as you! And I agree with April, I would love to be chatting with you on that couch too like the old days! I think you should send this post to a blog that just started called 4 kids or more, here is the link: or at least take a look at the blog I think it is fun to read about other big families and how they get by through the chaos!

Beth's Blue Blog said...

Danelle, you do a great job! i want to echo everyone's comments- i love the images you describe and i think you totally have it together. I think they do make brown duct tape, though. :)

Beth's Blue Blog said...

ps- i would buy your book! also, sometimes eric and i sing the mary tyler moore theme to each other, though i guess it makes more sense when he sings it to me.

Sare said...

I loved this Danelle. I think you're amazing...and I always feel like you have it all together. It's the important things right? You're children know who they are. You are an amazing mom. My husband came frmo one of "those" families (6 in his family too), and he often complains about the food his mom would make (or lack thereof), and I know that was one of the sacrifices. But there is always plenty of love. You are awesome

Corinne P. said...

I think I have to say Amen to like every point you made! I was totally laughing at all the examples like all the crumbs on the floor, the aweful clothes they insist on wearing; yup - you summed up my life!

Kathryn said...

Just what i needed to read! I only have two, but I'm already feeling like we're becoming "that family"! I can remember when I was a teenager visiting my friends who had lots of siblings and wondering why their houses were so messy. Now I KNOW. I've been struggling lately with the fact that my house is never going to be clean again, and unless I want to get 4 hours of sleep every night I have to just live with it. Happy, happy, happy!

Amy said...

That song always brings tears to my eyes! Danelle, you have a gift for words! What a beautiful post this is! I am wondering If I can use it in a collection of papers that I am gathering for a young women's project. I would love to use this.
P.S. I am mentalliy slapping that lady who asked you if you wanted another one:)
P.P.S. We are also "that" family and we only have four:)

Beck Family said...

We are "that" family too and I don't have it together most of the time. Motherhood is awesome! Beautiful post. Love ya!

Katie said...

I love your posts Danelle! And, I love that you're "that family." Lately, I've come to realize that we are too, and like you, I love it! Yes, it can be crazy and exhausting...I'm sick with a stomach bug today and looking at my messy house quickly becoming messier makes me realize just how busy I normally am and how it's hard to take a "day off" without chaos! But, I wouldn't trade this life for anything...I feel so blessed. My dad will make comments sometimes about not trying for a girl or having another baby, that we have "enough." But, he said that after we had two! And, what would life be like without my sweet little rambunctious Aidan, or my adorable bundle of boy named matter how crazy life gets, I'm grateful every day for each one of my unique little munchkins :)

Emma said...

Danelle, this post made me cry! I was "that" family growing up...and you do miss it!