Many members of my family have “issues” (like every other family), and of course gossip stems from these various issues (although I guarantee these days I am the source of plenty of fodder-actually I know I am as I stumbled in a conversation about me and “all those kids”, but that’s another story).
One common complaint was of a family member who at one point in her life discovered QVC and before she knew it was deep in credit card debt. She later remedied the problem and cut up her cards, but the topic comes up every now and then in family circles. When I think about my relative, and where she was in her life, I could easily see how she made such a mistake. I said so last time the topic came up: “you know, if I didn’t have a bunch of kids and I had time to watch QVC, and had disposable income, I could see myself doing the same thing.” Of course my family’s reaction was simply “oh yeah, of course you would!” as opposed to putting themselves in our relative’s shoes.
But it’s true. I think there are a ton of really stupid things I would do if I didn’t have children to force me to be more responsible and gain perspective. Or be healthy. Another trait that runs in my family is perfectionism and OCD. I will not at all claim I am not OCD, not by a long shot. But having a bunch of littles, four of which are boys in a row, and the various pets, germs, spills, and diapers will cure you quickly. Before I freaked when everything wasn’t clean and spotless. I kew we’d get bugs, or diseases or a random social worker would stop by and say “You have children here? In this house with two spots on the white area rug?!?” Today I just tell them make sure they don’t use the couch cushions to build their forts when company comes, so no one sees the crunched up Goldfish crackers underneath them.
Although dirt is not limited to little boys. Yesterday I had my daughter in a white t-shirt and pink capris. The second she got out, she hopped and giggled, and rolled on the ground. Back and forth and proceeded to roll under the van. My three year decided to help her by doing what any three-year old would do, he started prodding her with a stick under the van (I think the giggles coming from under the van were too much for him). My neighbors came home from Dollar General or Wal-Mart or where ever it is they go to look on in horror as my toddler rolled and giggled. I had the sudden urge to say “neighbor’s kid” but I knew that wouldn’t hold water since they were my neighbors. I was a responsible Mommy. I sat on the porch and yelled (quite forcefully, mind you) “Hey You, Fredegar! Stop poking your sister with a stick when she is rolling around under the van!” Actually my husband was only two feet away and he retrieved her right away, so I was really not as neglectful as I sounded.
When she emerged she was blackened with dirt, her little white t-shirt and her little pink pants. Another time, i would have required some sort of tranquilizer. These days “oh well, that’s why God gave us pre-treater,”
I think everyday there is another reason having children gives me a better sense of perspective.