It happened. A few days ago, I was at the grocery store with all three kids. This doesn't happen very often. See, one of the three kids is my nephew. We are seeking guardianship, but in the meantime we cannot legally homeschool him. Kain is at school all day, and he is usually with his dad on Saturdays. And as for Sunday, frankly, once I get through mass with all three of them my energy for public appearances is shot. But I was with all three the other day in the check out lane, my 10yo daughter, 6yo Kain, and my 2yo son. And the cashier said it, the fateful words that would put me officially into the "larger than average family" category. "Boy, you have your hands full, don't you?"
See, ya'll with large families seem to cringe under these statements, and I can understand why. When you step out with a large family, you are wearing your lifestyle and your values on your sleeve, so to speak, and you tire of the irritating commentary that comes with every milk run. But, I have always wanted a large family....and babies are slow in coming around here! I mean, Jack is 2 years old and we have been (freaking out) waiting patiently for another one for some time already. I am 32 years old. I know I have several baby-years left, but I am already at the age where fertility starts to decrease, and I couldn't help but wonder if a large family wasn't in our future after all. But then came Kain. Kain was a freebie you see, a "bonus kid", if you will, that nicely filled the age gap between Maria and Jack. Now all of a sudden, we are one of *them*, a "big family". I realize that this comment makes those of you with 10 kids chuckle, haha, but throw me a BONE, ok? I realize that in big family circles we are still small potatoes, but you are missing the milestone here. I have always heard friends with large families bemoan the "you have your hands full" comment, but with one deft sentence that cashier at the grocery store put me in ranks with them. I looked up from my frantic search in the diaper bag for my wallet to find out she was talking to *me*, and I was so surprised. I mean, I knew that certain things had changed since Kain's arrival. All of a sudden, dinner recipes had to be doubled because they just weren't *quite* enough...all of a sudden my sedan was a very tight fit...all of a sudden the laundry seemed to DOUBLE with the addition of just one more person. But somehow, maybe because Kain is my nephew and has only been with us a few months, and maybe because we spent the first couple of months waiting for someone to take him away again, I missed this new reality, this new large-family identity. And even though Kain is my nephew and not my own son, we are raising him as our own and sure hope to keep it that way. I looked around at Jack fussing in the cart, Maria and Kain fighting over who was going to put which bags in the car, and I beamed at the cashier. "Why yes. Yes, I do have my hands full, don't I?"