Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Home: The Great Society

The following is a true story of several families, but combined, to protect their identites:

Our family visited a married couple in their eighties, who had raised 7 children. I intended to ask the man about his life and career, but he distracted me quite a bit by telling me about his family. Throughout our visit, he would hold up seven fingers every chance he got, and remind us that, "I have 6 sons and 1 daughter." In this declaration there was something beyond personal pride, that was an affirmation of a lifetime achievement.

At 82, he could hoist a canoe on his back, and was as strong as an ox. We followed him down the steps of his steep incline to the lake, where he launched the vessel. While on the short canoe trip with him, he spoke quite a bit about the experience of raising children.

Having grown up in a family of 7 myself, I was drawn to his perspective. Like us, throughout this endeavor, they had endured a lot of sarcasm and ridicule regarding their large family. I wouldn't want to repeat here some of the unkind remarks levelled at us when I was growing up. Listening to this man's description of his children and their life together as a family, renewed my pride in my own childhood.

While the society around him scoffed and sneered and wondered what in the world that family could be thinking, by having "all those children," he and his wife were busy about getting those children taught and prepared for life. They were always home as a family at mealtimes. Evenings were spent somewhat noisily, together creating their own fun and recreation. His house bore the marks of an active bunch who liked to do everything from playing table tennis to drawing pictures.

One of his sons learned to repair things around their house and eventually earned his living as a carpenter. He helped a neighbor build a new house. Another son who was interested in plumbing, developed his own plumbing business, and was hired by another neighbor to install all the plumbing in a downtown business. A third son became an electrician.

The fourth son always loved working in his family's yard, and gained a keen interest in plants. He grew up wanting to have his own gardening business. He eventually became the owner of a gardening center and an expert on plants and gardening in his area. His business provided landscaping for many new and older homes.

Two of the younger sons, who were born later in this man's life, and were more acquainted with the new technology, became accountants and business managers. They later joined forces with the other sons and helped them manage their businesses. The daughter? Well, she became an interior decorator, and when she married and had children of her own, they all helped their uncles decorate those beautiful homes they were building, wiring and plumbing.

People around them had no trouble accepting a classroom full of 30 children, with only one teacher, yet could not understand how two parents could manage 7 children, yet these parents accomplished a great deal through these children just by their rich home life. They created their own society within that family and that home, which generated benefits to the larger society. Those who made snide remarks or doubted that this family could survive, were brought to their senses as they observed the inner workings and the relationship of this family, which year after year assembled at their parents house for family celebrations, sharing both joy and sorrow.

Although this man had worked for many years in a lumbering company, our visit with him that day never yielded any information about his brilliant career. He would only talk about his children.

Today, the pride of this man is his children, and the pride of his children is their father and mother.

You may not be married, or even have children, but still, home provides the best opportunity for good society. Its influence flows outward into the community and the impact is always felt in the world.

Painting by Myrick, from


TheNormalMiddle said...

Oh Lydia, I loved your comment: "people around them had no trouble accepting a classroom full of 30 children, with only one teacher, yet could not understand how two parents could manage 7 children."

I get asked frequently, "how on earth can you homeschool with three so little, and what will you do when they're all homeschooled and in different grades?"

My standard response is: "well, I used to teach a classroom of 26 4th graders and no assistant, and they all turned out fine."

Works everytime.

Wanda said...

That sentence stood out to me, as well. How true it is! My dh and I have only been blessed with 3 children and I get interesting remarks all the time regarding our home educating them.
Sometimes it occurs to me to wonder how they would react if I made comments on their choice to send their children to public schools. I don't, of course, but on certain days I admit a snarky remark or two sometimes flits through my mind.
This was such a refreshing and encouraging article, Lydia! Thank you for the reminder about what's truly important and lasting.

Terri said...

Thank you, Lady Lydia, for this article. I always love reading and hearing about godly families. What a blessing this family is to each other, to our society. How encouraging!