So. We had family prayer tonight. Skippy had gone to bed, and I couldn’t help but notice: there were only three of us. Dillon is away at scout camp for a week and a half, and today we left Ethan deep in the heart of Camp Pendleton for Marine Combat Training. The missionaries are moving out in two weeks. Even Cambria leaves soon for a month with her grandma. Everyone is disappearing, and well, maybe I am feeling a little sorry for myself. All this trouble I have taken to surround myself with adoring minions (is that an oxymoron? Maybe it should be loyal minions, or adoring fans, or something. Whatever, as long as I get to be the queen), and I am telling you, all I can hear right now is crickets.
I really do love alone time. But I believe that one cannot truly appreciate alone time unless she is bombarded with nearly constant familial chaos. Thank goodness for Skippy. I remember when I found out I was pregnant with Skippy. I was 39 years old. I did not necessarily have plans to have a seventh child. Okay, so I did allow myself a moment, standing there in the bathroom holding a urine-soaked pregnancy test, to revel in my apparent fertility. You thought I was going to say, wallow in self-pity, didn’t you? No! On the contrary, a little victory dance… because if there is one thing at which I truly excel, it is conception. I have batted a thousand, having never missed on the first try, and in fact have been taken quite by surprise on more than one occasion at the very tenacity of my own fertility. Never more so than that Sunday morning, standing there staring at a pink plus sign that meant Skippy was in there, growing away, about the size of a jellybean.
I found that despite the fact that my family and I are pretty good sports, and that even my teenage sons were excited about a new baby, it seemed that so many others were less than happy for me. My friends were all done having babies, and there I went, upsetting the status quo. I found myself repeating this mantra: “No, really, we’re actually happy about it.” One day a co-worker of DK found out we were pregnant. I braced myself for the abject horror, patronizing condolences, or pitying smile to which I had become accustomed. Instead, this nice lady… her name is Kay… told me she was happy for me. She said something I have thought of many times since: “You will never get to be 50 years old and wish that you had less kids.” I have a few years left before I find that out for sure, but do you know, I do believe she was right.
When my kids grow up and get married and go on missions and join the Marines and leave for scout camp and fly on airplanes all by themselves, guess what… Skippy is still here making a complete wreck of my family room with hundreds of cars that his brothers have all played with, and in fact are probably antiques because many of them used to belong to DK when he was little. Skippy will still paint my white sateen sheets with red nail polish and cut his own hair with school scissors, just as his siblings did before him. He will be here to cry because there is no homemade bread to go with his peanut butter. He will try to sneak out to play with friends even though he is only five, and then sneak back in under the trampoline and through the back door so I won’t know he left, even though I was watching him the whole time. Skippy will still be here to crawl into my bed in the middle of the night and then snore so loudly that DK carries him back to the bottom bunk within minutes. Skippy will still be here to make the helper who hands him out of the car at the curb in front of kindergarten in the morning stand there waiting while he tells me three times that he loves me before he will turn and climb the stairs to his classroom. It is perfectly perfect having Skippy.
Each one of the seven was perfectly perfect… Truly: any single one worth the price of admission… and I am aware of the fact that even Skippy will all too soon turn into a teenager who knows more than I do, who goes off to be his own man (and to be clear, who a few years thereafter will, like his brothers, realize that he does not, in fact, know more than I). But I am resourceful. I think ahead. By then I will have accumulated a sufficient store of grandchildren to keep things interesting around here. I’m sure they will be just as adept at turning my house into a complete disaster as their parents were in their turn.
So as for this week, I won’t feel sorry for myself. In fact, maybe I will just try to enjoy a little of that elusive alone time. Perhaps just long enough to finish these three songs… that would be lovely.