This week has had some highlights and some rough spots, and both of them have emphasized to me the goodness and beauty of family.
At the beginning of the week, my husband’s brother (the oldest, and the only one of the five brothers that lives out of state) came back into town for a few days, so the five of them had a night out and I invited my two sisters-in-law with children to come up to our place for dinner and to give the cousins a chance to spend time together. It was really a fabulous evening 🙂 We had ribs and watermelon (easy for me to throw together in a crockpot since this all happened on a 10 hour work day, but maybe in hindsight not the neatest meal when there aren’t enough chairs for all the toddlers) and then took the kids outside to play in the water on what was conveniently the warmest day of the year thus far. With six kids ages three and under, outside play was far less stressful and more fun than inside play would have been!
My sisters-in-law are some of the sweetest and godliest women I know – I really am blessed to have them in my extended family through our marriages. It was such a pleasure for me to able to have this time with both of them, even if it did end up mostly centered on the kids! My out-of-state sister-in-law (hyphen overload, my goodness) has shared a lot of parenting wisdom with me over social media, and it was really awesome to see her put it into practice with her daughter during our time together.
And my worries that the cousins would end up having a lot of conflict proved utterly groundless. They all seemed so at ease with each other, and enjoyed the time playing with each other. When they had all left and I shut and locked the front door, Rondel looked up at me and asked, “open door so cousins come back in?” It was so adorable 🙂
In the smaller context of the immediate family, I’ve been so thankful that my boys have each other, to balance each other out and to give each of them a different personality to bounce against and play with and learn about conflict and friendship with. Whatever kind of sibling struggles you may have in childhood, your siblings end up being the people who are still part of your life in adulthood, when other friends have moved on or drifted away. So right now, one of my biggest goals for my boys is to help them learn to love each other well, whether in play, conflict, or service. We did a lot of playing together this week:
Rondel climbed in, so Limerick climbed in too! And this time, it was Rondel’s idea for Limerick to join him, and Limerick thought it sounded like fun. Cloth diapers in laundry baskets are apparently pretty awesome to wiggle down into and bury one’s legs in 🙂 Then Rondel decided to hug one of the diapers, so of course Limerick had to do that too! He loves to do whatever his big brother is doing – and his big brother is starting to pick up on it, and occasionally tries to encourage him to copy him doing something silly.
(Also, yes, I’m aware of the sharp kitchen knife casually lying on the floor next to them… Rondel was using it, under supervision, to cut the banana that Limerick was finished with.)
We’re finishing off this week, that started so well, with a nasty stomach bug. So far no one’s been sick except for Limerick, and we’re hoping it stays that way, because one miserably sick vomiting person in a household is enough!
But his sickness has made me realize again how blessed I am by my family, and how valuable family support truly is. When Limerick first got sick yesterday, it was about 30 minutes before I was supposed to leave for work, and I already had the boys at my parents’ house so my mom could watch them for the afternoon. And I could go to work without feeling guilty because I knew that she would be able to care for Limerick with all the common sense of an experienced mother and all the doting love of a grandmother. I could borrow clean clothes from her to wear to work so I didn’t have to drive all the way back home first. I didn’t have to worry about making dinner to feed the rest of us because my brother made dinner for the whole family at my parents’ house. We were incredibly buoyed up by their presence and support on a difficult day.
Today again, watching both boys after I got home from work, I saw how beautiful family could be when Limerick, who had otherwise been just lying wherever I put him with a tired and zoned-out expression on his face, broke into a smile and actually started laughing because of Rondel’s silly antics around him. I saw the power of brotherly love when Rondel came up to his sick brother and covered him in kisses and hugs, and lay down beside him on the bed to snuggle to “help him feel better.” I’m sure it didn’t help physically, but I’m equally sure that it helped Limerick emotionally.
It makes me so happy that they have each other, to share laughter and silliness, and to learn compassion and love.
Head on over to Like Mother, Like Daughter today to join the link-up or just to be encouraged and encourage others, as we all try to figure out this marriage-and-parenting-and-striving-for-holiness-in-Christ thing together 🙂