Utah Dad and I have a lot in common. We're both members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. We were raised in the church. Our church ancestry goes way back--not as far back as some but pretty far. We went to seminary. We met at BYU. We're both Conservative Republicans (who don't watch Glenn Beck and are hoping that the elected Democrats will be wise enough to help the Republicans save the constitution). We almost always share the same political view. Our parents are Republicans. We both come from big families. I'm the oldest of seven. He's the youngest of seven. We both enjoy history, traveling (which we don't get to do so much right now, but someday . . .), foreign films, cooking and gardening, among other things.
Even with so much in common, we're still unique, opinionated individuals and sometimes our relationship takes a lot of work. It's not bad work and I'm not complaining. It's just that being together is not always easy. I think anyone in a meaningful relationship understands what I'm trying, probably not very successfully, to say.
When Utah Dad and I got married there was just one single relationship for the two of us to work on. We've tried very hard over the years to have a good relationship and we are best friends who spend most of our free time together. Occasionally we disagree. Occasionally we argue. Occasionally we're just "off". And then, since we share a common goal of eternal marriage, we put our heads together and try our best to get our "groove" back.
Then we had children. Neal was born. There were three people in the family and three separate relationships to work on. When Amberly was born we suddenly had four people in the family but six different relationships. The numbers keep growing. Now there are seven people in our family and twenty one different loving/tumultuous relationships going on in our small house. I think we desperately need more square footage per relationship.
The more children we have the more we understand the uniqueness of the individual. Utah Dad and I shared our genes with five children and yet they have each come to this world as different as they can be. They certainly share some similar physical traits and some personality traits, but for the most part they are five very different little people. They are also at various levels of maturity and the relationships that they share with each other can be very interesting.
For example, four year old Thomas and two year Lilly spend a lot of time together every day. Neal and Amberly are at school. Molly takes naps. And I'm not particularly good at scheduling play dates. Consequently, Thomas and Lilly get to play together--a lot. There are days when it is abundantly clear that they adore each other. They can play nicely and quietly for hours, building cities with Lego's or pretending to be a family with the doll house (as long as Thomas doesn't make the house have an "earthquake"). Their favorite pretend game right now unfortunately entails the demise of their parents. I don't know why it seems so appealing to be orphaned.
Other days we hear not-so-nice comments coming from the bedroom. "I hate you, Lilly!" To which she always responds in a taunting voice, "You LOVE me, Thomas." Some days it is best if Thomas plays Lego's in his room and Lilly plays with the doll house in her room.
The other night just before bedtime we had finished reading from the Book of Mormon and we gathered in a circle on the floor to pray. The kids were being particularly and surprisingly good about kneeling quietly and folding their arms in hopes of earning some warm fuzzies. Utah Dad asked Thomas to say the prayer. He started a very thoughtful prayer but in the middle Lilly suddenly shouted "I wanted to pray". Thomas interrupted his prayer to literally fly across the family circle to tackle Lilly flat while he shouted "you aren't supposed to talk during prayers." Lilly got out her "claws" in defense and a little battle ensued practically on my lap while Utah Dad and I tried to pull them apart and made an attempt to return to the fleeting peace we had been enjoying.
Some day, I sincerely hope that my children will develop more loving and less tumultuous relationships with each other. I hope that while they are young they can learn to work out their quarrels without hitting and learn to appreciate each other's singularity (that's one of Neal's vocabulary words and I just had to use it).
I remember too many times from my childhood of holding a younger brother in a head lock and being afraid to let go because he'd hit me. We argued. We fought. I used my nails to dig half moon indents in their forearms. Today, my siblings are some of my dearest friends and my favorite people. Of course, my brothers are way too strong and big for me to get in a head lock now.
So, there is hope. There is hope that one day Neal and Amberly will share an intelligent and significant conversation that doesn't include name calling. I hope.