When I married into The Smith family almost 16 years ago, I felt lucky and excited to be surrounded by such a close-knit group of kin. Being the youngest of only two girls, I had no idea what my future would look like with six sisters-in-law, a brother-in-law, and over 20 first cousins--just on one side.
I have to admit, it was a bit overwhelming at first. I was used to one person talking at a time, and I was certain this family had a defective “hearing” gene since I was the only one who seemed to have trouble tuning out all the excess noise. Having lots of girls all sharing one bathroom meant scrambling for mirror time on Sunday mornings. And getting that privacy one sometimes needs didn’t always come easy.
But there was never a loss for good food, a game of pepper, or a sweet little girl to fix my hair. Now they’ve all grown up. Even Little Robyn--only one year old when I started coming around--is old enough to drive.
Yes, much time has passed--rather quickly, I might add--and with it has come the creation of new memories and stories which are exclusive only to this unique and one of a kind family. Tales are often told about and among siblings of any family, but especially a large one, and these folks are no different. But the stories I have locked away as lessons for myself come from the creators of this fine group, Randy’s parents, Larry and Donna Smith.
It’s hard to believe either of them are old enough to have been married for 40 years this Sunday. But I guess that’s how it works when you marry as a teenager. The two began their life together in a foreign country during the Vietnam War, and with only ten short months to be newlyweds, as their firstborn, my husband Randy, arrived on a Tuesday in July to the smell of sauerkraut and Weiner schnitzel. OK, maybe not. But it was Germany, nonetheless.
Starting out as they did, these young kids no doubt had to rely on each other in a way some couples never know. I can’t imagine being nineteen and having my first child on an Air Force base in a foreign country with my own mother hundreds of miles away. Lesson number one: All they had was God and each other, whether they realized it or not.
Seven more kids, five children-in-law, and eleven grandbabies later, they are still married--in spite of us all.
In the sixteen years that I’ve been a part of this family, I’ve learned many things about how to be a Christian, a spouse and a parent. I’ve been touched by the deep devotion they each have to their kids, their grandkids, and their God. And I have been made into a better person simply by being granted membership into their amazing family.
So what kind of things have I learned from being a Smith? Here are a select few:
*Worship, work, play. In that order.
*Sometimes, a mother just needs to yell.
*Spare the rod, spoil the child.
*To some, it might seem completely insane that a grown man would spend five full minutes totally destroying a lawn chair--kicking, throwing, bending its metal--all for pinching the flesh of his precious child. It might seem insane until one has a child of her own.
*Silence can be deadly, but sometimes it’s better than the alternative.
*Planning is for sissies.
*This too shall pass.
*Being an accountant is a lot like coaching baseball only harder. Nobody provides a bag of seeds or a covered set of bleachers so that willing wives can be a part, cheering their mates on to the end of another successful season.
*Working hard is not an option.
*There is still good to be gotten from a twice-used Ziploc. Waste not, want not.
*Go with the flow.
*His mama’s biscuits may take 10 years to perfect, but they’ll never be as perfect as his mama’s.
*Nothing that we do is too trivial to God.
*We may not always be able to anticipate our partner’s next move, but we can always be there when he makes it.
*Nothing works better than prayer.
I said before that I felt lucky to be a part of such an amazing family. Another lesson I’ve learned? None of us are really lucky. We are blessed!
And that’s All in a day’s Work!