Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Forty-eight months old

The first Because I Said So column I wrote for The Commercial Appeal appeared on April 17, 2008. Four years ago today. And it's still in the archives!

We still had a kid in diapers and daycare then, and we were probably just a little in awe (and fear) of what we'd produced. It was an exciting time, wasn't it? There seemed no end to the subject matter and fodder for columns. I hope you have all enjoyed the ride, I know I have, even if we haven't successfully colonized the moon ... yet.

Thank you to my editor, Peggy Reisser, and partner in crime for so long, Stacey Greenberg. Thank you to my kids for putting up with being put under a microscope and in a clown suit by me for so many years.

I hope you will enjoy that very first column all over again:

Real kids shrink notions of big family
My grandparents, Bob and Shirley Fachini, raised seven children, a respectable number by anyone's standards.

It was the 1950s and '60s, a much simpler era, I'm told. Families were larger then because this country needed as many citizens as possible to fight communism, go to Saturday movie matinees for a nickel and colonize the moon.

They would later come to call these babies "boomers," because of how much noise that many children, at one time, in one place, will make.

Their house was warm and loving and, sure, it was cramped, but they made do. Bob built a table large enough for everyone to eat around, and Shirley sewed dresses for the girls.

It sounds like an idyllic time, and the stories of the antics of my aunts and uncles as kids have engaged me since I was a child.

It was those stories that had me wanting a large family of my own.

My wife, Kristy, and I have four children between the ages of 21 months and 10 years. And, as it turns out, we're done.

That's right. I don't know what got into my grandparents' brains to make them think seven kids was a good idea, but I'm afraid something had to be a little off for two intelligent people to willingly welcome that many little people to live with them.

By stopping now, we're not squashing my dream of raising a big family, because four is the new seven.
When Kristy and I tell people, especially new parents with only one child, that we have four, the look we get is generally awe and amazement.

Never envy.

Maybe just a hint of pity. Yes, mostly pity, now that I think of it.

The truth is, we weren't exactly sure at the beginning what we were doing.

Kristy researched parenting styles, while I was content, and over my head, just keeping the kid alive and somewhat happy. Ten years, and three babies later, it's still all I can do.

But our home now is full of love. Just as much with love, in fact, as it is with discarded Pop-Tart wrappers, broken and mismatched toys, half-emptied cups of milk and diapers, both clean and dirty.

Parenthood is an easy enough club to enter, though staying in the good graces of the club's membership board -- your kids -- is tricky.

Nothing was easy for my grandparents either, yet they signed on for seven kids and dealt with them as they showed up. And if they could handle seven, then four should be cake, right? Or at least a chocolate icing-smeared face smiling up at us.

We're doing our best with our quartet, in the spirit and with the tenacity of my grandparents.

We'll send them to the best schools we can, we will communicate openly with them and we'll raise them to be caring and informed citizens, who will one day, hopefully, grow up to colonize the moon.