Something Salinas This Way Comes...

Sunday, January 31, 2010

Existing In Abundance

People always say things to me along the lines of, "How do you do it?" (usually accompanied with a wide-eyed expression of total disbelief) and honestly, most days I can't answer because I just don't know.  Sometimes, though, something happens and I am brought face-to-face with the sort of revelations that put meaning to my life and my actions.  I used to ask myself all the time, "WHY would anyone have more than three kids?" and for the first year of Chloe and Hannah's lives, when I looked at myself in the mirror, I sat in disbelief at the reflection. It was always the same dialogue running through my head:  A mother of FIVE.  A mother of FIVE??  What the Hell??  How do I raise five kids?  The questions that friends and strangers were seeking answers to were linear to those that were cropping into my own brain; only I was so busy going through the motions, surviving, that I simply had no time to seek answers--except, of course, when I saw my own reflection and felt strange; foreign to myself.

Today was one of those self-revelation experiences--I got the kind of answer that, thankfully, I did not have to strive for or seek out.  It was an ordinary day.  We went to church for the first time in a month and my girls were busy, but so was I.  I must have gained just enough grace while at that busy mass that I was inspired to write this, in response to and in reflection of the quesiton, "Why do I do what I do, and for the love of all things Holy, HOW???" 


If you have a lof of kids (this term varying in definition depending on your perception of "a lot"), you know that as parenthood goes, there are a slew of other life situations that arrive in abundance once you welcome the addition of a child.  As the number of kids in your home grows, so do the number of catastrophes, mishaps, obstacles, emotions, and events of an expanding nature.

Someone will always be whining, or crying, or just expressing loud opposition to some relatively small issue, in the most inopportune places and at an already-stressful time.  Some kid will always be lagging behind the rest.  Someone will forever be feeling injusticed by a miniscule crime that is more closely related to the individual child's own schisms than to an actual crime of any sort.  Someone will always be stuck in the back of the SUV at church, banging on the glass and screaming at you in panicked tones, abhored at the notion that he/she is forgotten forever (okay, so maybe that's just me).

Someone always has to pee, or has a poopy diaper.  It never fails, as soon as you commence the road trip or walk into a department store, one of your kids will have to pee.  And on said road trip, at least one kid will get car sick and cover the back seat in regurgitated Goldfish crackers and chocolate milk.  Someone will always have a runny nose and at some point, I guarantee your sleeve will act in place of that travel-size baggie of Kleenex you forgot to shove in your purse.

Some kid is always going to be struggling with something--a social issue, grades, bullies at school, chronic nose bleeds. 

In the dead of winter, someone will inevitably come down with pneumonia, or bronchitis, or hand/foot/mouth disease, or head lice.  Someone always needs a band-aid, Motrin, or a hot bath with Vick's, or just a bath in general.

There are the fillings, braces, and contact lenses.  Someone's fingernails are perpetually filthy.  Someone is always hungry, always thirsty, and always trying to guarantee themselves some junk food--be it on the sly by doing chores or simply begging loudly. 

Someone is always torturing the cat.

Someone is always spilling something.

One kid will assuredly be diagnosed with some sort of disorder, delay, or genetic disease that requires utmost attention and medical guidance (not to mention a lot of frustrated prayer).  Some child will be constantly in need of emergency medical attention, either from swallowing your pills or falling (jumping) off of furniture.  Someone is always yelling; background noise is definitely in abundance.

Someone's clothes are always dirty; someone is always missing a sock, or a shoe, or a coat.  One kid's hair is always a rat's nest and one kid's pants will forever be full of holes.  The bathroom mirror will always have toothpaste on it, and your dryer will never, ever host an even number of perfectly matched socks.

Someone will always be mad and resentful toward one or both parents--I can't say for certain, but I am pretty solid in assuming that for at least one kid, the recollected childhood injustices will last into adulthood.  One kid will inevitably suffer lack of attention or affection, and act out in ways that may not exactly warrant reactions of gratitude from parents, but the end result will certainly equate to attention of some sort.  You can bet your ass that all of them will break your hearts when they grow up and decide that whatever lessons you intended to instill in them don't matter, and, at some point along the way, they are going to disappoint you.

Some kid will always be saying, "Can I?", "Will you....", "I want...", "I need...", and it is likely that, as a parent to many, it will show in the number of grey hairs you have, the number of missed hours at work, and the number of dollars in your bank account. 

At least one kid per week will be crawling into your bed, tears and teddy bears in abundance, kicking you in your shins, drooling on you and snoring in your ear; feeling safe and protected while you attempt to form your sleep around their twisted, thrashing bodies.  If there is no other experience to be officially guaranteed from this list I have provided, you can bet that if you are a parent to many, lack of sleep will be the number one symptom you will experience in abundance throughout the duration of your life.

Worry will exist in abundance, also.  Worry about their futures, their chances of success versus their chances of failure--worry about your own successes and failures as parents, and worry about the retention of the former.  Worry that they won't come home from the bus stop, or that they will lack confidence, or that they will be that awful statistic of kids whose parents must bury them before they've had a chance to put their hands on life.  You will worry that their choice in partner will hurt them, and that they in turn will carry on those scars to hurt others, or vice versa.  You will worry that they will become good and solid individuals who, out of worry themselves, will have humility and compassion and love for life and others.  You'll worry that they will be apathetic, or place too much expectation on themselves, worry that your own adult issues have projected onto them.  In a house with many kids, worry exists in great abundance.  The odds of something bad happening to one is greater when there are more.

...Someone is always laughing, too.  Giggling or chortling, or in a fit of crying laughter on the floor.  Someone is always smiling one of those cute toothless baby smiles or awkward buck-toothed, crooked kid smiles.  Some kid is always waking you up in the morning with a gentle hug, or wishing you good night with a gentle hug.  When you have a lot of kids, one of them is bound to be a spontaneous dancer.  Someone is always there, talking and learning and growing; lighting up the room with conversation and memories.  They will help each other and you; they will come to you when they need you.  Someone is always saying something along the lines of the following:  "Dinner was awesome; you're the best cook".  "I want you to see what I did today", "You rock!", "Thanks, Mom", "You're the best". 

"I love you, Mom". 

Those words, those actions, make everything else feel like a beautiful piece of artwork, and you are the tortured soul, the troubled artist who bears fruit to these miraculous, imaginative, wonderful, colorful little paintings that grow up to be masterpieces in their own rights, in their own works, and in their own lives.  And love, abundant and unconditional, perpetuated and reciprocated, acts as justification for all of the work, the struggle, the worry, the chagrin, the bittersweet. 

It comes back to you from your kids--in few words and small actions--and when it does, it makes everything else trivial, laughable, repeatable. 
Thank God for abundant love, because without it, nothing is possible.


  1. Damn, Taryn. You nailed it. Right down to the last thought. It's insane. It's predictably unpredictable. But, it's so worth it. Every bump, bruise, scrape, kiss, hug, snuggle...every bit is worth it.

    And, as my SIL said, just think...someday we'll have grandchildren and that really makes it all worth it.

  2. Exactly!! I was gonna put something like that in there, but then I saw that it was already like 8000 words long. Haha.