(I wrote this back on January 17; I'm just getting around to posting it now...seems to go with the post I wrote today.)
Here's a story my husband tells:
There was a man who lived in a tiny house with his wife and children. It was a very, very tiny house, and they really needed more room. So the man went to the wisest man in the village, and asked him for advice on how they might be able to get a little more space. The wisest man in the village considered for a moment, and then he said, "I think you need to get a cow."
"A cow?" the man asked, incredulous. "How will that help?"
"Get a cow," the wise man repeated, ignoring the man's interruption, "and move it into the living room."
The man couldn't believe what he had just heard, but he knew that the man was very wise, so he did what he had said. The cow was a lot of trouble, and took up waaay too much space, so it wasn't long before the man was back knocking on the door of the wisest man in the village.
"This just isn't working," he said to the wise man. "We're more cramped than ever. My wife is going nuts. You have to help me!"
"Hmmmm," said the wisest man in the village. "I will tell you what to do. Go buy a camel and move it into the kitchen."
I will leave you to imagine the dialogue that ensued, but the man finally went to the camel dealer and bought a camel. It was a young camel, not fully grown, but it still took up quite a bit of space in the kitchen. The poor man and his wife and children could barely move inside their own house. What with the cow mooing and the camel spitting, it was a noisy, messy, cramped house. Of course it wasn't long before the man was back, pounding on the door of the wisest man in the village. He was almost in tears, as he begged the wise man to help him. It was terrible to have a cow and a camel in the house!
The wisest man in the village considered thoughtfully. He stroked his beard, and then he beckoned to the man to lean in closely. Very softly, the wisest man in the village told the man what to do. "Go sell the cow," he said quietly, "and the camel," he continued, "and I promise you will have more room in your house.
So the man went and sold the cow and the camel, and you know what? After that, the house never felt too small again.
So what's the point??
My husband and I are middle-aged grandparents. Between us, we have 9 children, who are all adults. We were empty nesters briefly, but then we adopted our 9th child (yay, Maleena!), and then my oldest daughter, her husband, and 4 of their children moved in with us when the economy blasted them with a double whammy of a difficult pregnancy, a baby with medical issues, and crappy insurance. Their medical bills equalled their rent bills, and something had to give. So we've been a household of 9 (!) people for the last year. It's always cozy, and sometimes gets to the point of feeling a little cramped.
Then, this weekend, my 2nd-oldest daughter and her husband and their 3 children came for a visit. They slept at the home of our good friends (who are empty nesters without and kids living at home), but they spent all day Saturday and part of today here at the house.
I adore these two daughters and their husbands and their children. They are all--all 12 of them--bright, articulate, kind, clever, resourceful, wonderful people. It was a special treat to have the two youngest family members--darling baby girls born just 3 days apart last April--together playing and learning from each other. We got to celebrate the 5th birthday of a precious adopted granddaughter.
All of these happy, joyful events were also noisy and chaotic. My son and his wife and daughter joined us part of the time, and then we had 2 two-year-olds and 2 babies in the mix, along with the five-year-old wound up about her birthday. By the end of yesterday, I was crawling off to my room with a pounding headache, unable to think straight.
Tonight, daughter #2 and her family are snugly back in their own home, and the gang here at our house is settling in for the night...and you know what? It doesn't feel crowded at all.
*Note to Polly and David: I am NOT implying that you are a cow or a camel! Ha ha! I'm just saying that having a crowd over makes the house feel like it's not crowded at all when the company leaves!