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Challenge: What Makes a Family?

Looking Back With Amazement and Wonder

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Now that our kids are older, yet still young enough to see often and still feel like the same family, I often just wonder at my family. Our kids are 23, 20, 17 and 16, and they are so different from each other. They have different body types, hair color, personalities and interests. One thing we all have in common is that we love each other fiercely. Even one of my kids, who has to be cajoled to be more active with the family from time to time, loves his siblings like his best friends.

I look back on the long, sleepless nights with the constant colds and dreadful ear infections, and I can't believe that now they are healthy kids who hardly ever go to the doctor. I took my youngest to the doctor for a physical to play high school sports, and it said that she hadn't been to the doctor in three years. Three years? She had ear tubes at 9 months old due to constant ear infections. Infections would still ooze out of those tubes off and on during the next year, yet now, she's healthy, thought not quite with 100% hearing.

When I had my first child, I realized instantly that I wanted to stay at home and raise him. However, it was not possible. My husband was trying to get a job in a very competitive field, and he would need years more hard work before he would get his break, and at the time, there were no guarantees. It was only faith and hope and three long years time before I was able to stay at home. He got his break, and I was able to quit my job, just in time to have our second child.

Being a stay-at-home mom had so many challenges at the beginning. Looking at my little townhouse neighborhood, it seemed like everyone already knew each other. That was just an illusion though, from an outsider looking in. We navigated through those learning stages, a play group, and eventually move several states away when my husband was able to transfer to a better job.

I was pregnant with our third child while still we were looking for the town near my husband's new job where we would put down long roots. Every weekend, we loaded up our minivan and drove through all the surrounding neighborhoods and little towns, trying to found a place to raise our family. Finally, after many months, we were driving and got lost and just kept driving. Without even knowing exactly where we were, we found a neighborhood where we wanted to live.

We had our fourth child there and began our daily lives of schools and home. We still live where we built our house 17 1/2 years ago. That time did not fly. Especially not at the beginning. I'd say it crawled. Once, with my four kids loaded up in my mini van, and my husband at work, I decided to go shopping by driving slowly up and down the Walmart parking lot where all of the summer plants were displayed. I just didn't have the energy to actually get out. Of course, it got better. One by one the kids started school, they got older, and life got easier.

All of the hard work at the beginning laid the groundwork for this time of wonder and enjoyment. This journey with my family is the best thing that ever happened to me, and I wouldn't change a thing.

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