When my family of five heads to The Farm in Curry, Ala for the weekend we are ready for the chaos that comes with it. Including my girls, there are nine cousins— all girls— ranging in age from 12 months to 12 years. The three oldest girls make excellent babysitters and will pick up the three smallest cousins and pop them up on a hip faster than you can say, “Where’d my baby go?” Nine children and around 8 adults stay in my in-laws house, sharing 1.5 bathrooms, kitchen duty and and shared insanity.
There is no such thing as privacy at The Farm, as my mother-in-law, Plum, lovingly pointed out one evening. I was laying in the bed in the room Zeb and I shared with Sadie and laughed until I had tears streaming down my face when I heard Plum banging on the bathroom door downstairs.
“What are you doing?!” She yelled through the locked door, “THERE’S NO SUCH THING AS PRIVACY!”
Shower times should be chosen wisely. You don’t want to get in the shower after Emma and Mary Frances, as they use it as a rinsing station between rolls in the sand pile and shower shoes are required. You also don’t want to get in the shower after the tweens as there will be no hot water left, and you don’t want to get in the shower while any one is running the dishwasher or the washing machine as you will alternately scald yourself and/or freeze to death.
The Farm People, as my children adoringly refer to all of their Daddy’s family, are amazing folks— cut from the same cloth as Laura Ingalls Wilder. If there ever was a nuclear holocaust I’d hightail it to the farm as fast as I could get there because I know without a doubt they would still have running water, transportation (maybe just a mule drawn wagon but they’d be mobile) and possibly a good wi-fi connection. The Farm People do things like saddling horses and go for nature hikes and other things that involve sweat and the great outdoors.
I’m not cut from the same cloth— so while I was zero assistance as they hung beams in the new living room and sleeping loft they built for all the Grandgirls…
That’s my m-i-l on the left. Roughly 30 feet off the ground about to lift a beam that weighs 100 times what she does. And that’s Zebulicious on the right.
Filed under: Things I Could Not Do Without Severely Injuring Myself.
I know my place. The kitchen is where I can be of the most use and where I can contribute to the family. So I cooked. From my vantage point in the kitchen, I watched, laughed and shuddered with fear as huge beams were carried into the living room and hoisted onto scaffolding.
I visited with everyone as dinner was scarfed down then took a post at the kitchen sink to clean up the mess that is inevitably made when cooking for a small army. The adults grabbed hammers and climbed back onto the scaffolding and I enlisted my troops. Faith, Zoe, and Kasey, the tweens, cleared the tables and swept the floors. I sent Emma and Mary Frances, the kindergartners, to clean up the playroom. Sadie and Mary-Ann, the toddlers, giggled and bounced on their bottoms down the stairs. Aubrey and Abby, the smart ones, ran out of sight before they could be assigned a task.
I stuck my hands in the soapy water as the kitchen magically cleaned itself behind me. I reached for a white ladle whose scoop has been stained brown from years of valiantly scooping Pop Pete’s hot chocolate into mugs for little girls exhausted from a day of chasing horses, gathering eggs and digging in the dirt. I rinsed the ladle, placed it in the sink to dry and sighed, thankful, to somehow be a part of this family.