We are a family of nine. My husband, my daughter and son-in-law, their five children (!) and a sweet Boston Terrier. We live in regulation Army housing, comfortable but certainly not luxurious. I have a small bedroom and bathroom (that I share with my husband) and a small closet that I call my own. Not the typical American arrangement.
Most of my daughter’s friends are stunned that we live together. They regularly make comments like, “I could live with my father, but NEVER with my mother.” Or “My husband could only take my mother in small doses. We could NOT live together. It would never work.” My daughter has told me she is the only one she knows who likes, truly likes her mother (I’m flattered).
The basic assumption is we all like each other all the time and it’s loads of fun every day. Just not true. Does anyone like anyone all the time? Each of us finds ways to make the arrangement work. My closet is totally off limits to every one. I have made threats. :-) We don’t spend all our time together. A field trip to Mt. Vernon is for my daughter and her family. Lunch out after church doesn’t always includes Grandma.
And, there are problems. Some days everyone doesn’t do the work (laundry, dishes, bathroom cleanup) they said they would. Other times the level of noise and chaos of five healthy children seems unnecessary and in fact disrespectful or rude. Other days the asked-for-advice/in-put is just plain too much. Sometimes harsh, hurtful words are said.
Through our problems we make concessions, show kindness, ask for forgiveness. We serve one another and do what needs to be done. We find that place where we make the solitude we need and we respect each other’s need for time away.
We are family,