A couple of nights ago, our family visited some friends from the old neighborhood. While all our friends are wonderful and interesting people, these particular friends are somewhat extraordinary. You see they too have 9 children and they currently live in a garage!
Now, before you feel sorry for them, hear me out.Next to this garage stands a house they are building from ground level up totally debt free. Unless you are independently wealthy (which they are not), this takes time. So, until the house is livable (next year, Lord willing), all 11 of them live in the garage.
This isn’t just any garage either. It is a 2-car garage with a miniature “apartment” at the back. It has a fully equipped kitchen, bathroom, & laundry room. The children share the most incredible space within this “apartment.” They sleep in bunks that, I must admit, even make me a bit envious! On floor level, there are two mattresses for the littlest girls and then a 2nd and 3rd level that sleeps 3 children a piece. A crib stands at the foot of this monstrosity for the 10 month old. My children thought they had stepped into the pages of Swiss Family Robinson! My oldest daughter even asked if when they left, could we please move in!
The kitchen also shares space with the living room/dining room/master bedroom/school room/office/library/pantry that makes up the front of the garage that will eventually house 2 cars–correction…vans–ummm….correction…busses (remember we’re talking 9 children here, with hopes of more!)
Now, the reason I am so awe-inspired by this family is not because they live in a garage. It is not b/c they have 9 children. It is not even because they are building debt-free (although all these things are truly awe-inspiring). What amazes me the most is the use of their space (and patience). You would think that the shear volume of things for a family of 11 would more than overload a normal garage, but everything had a place and things were kept tidied up.
As I reflect upon our visit to their “home,” I am struck by one thing in particular–the lack of stuff (and their contentment). You know what I’m talking about–the things that just seem to clutter up a home. There were no tiny plastic toys lying all over the floor, there were no unnecessary items invading every inch of available space, and there was no tv which can easily take over the excess room in the home and the excess room in the mind. Here was a family with more than double the number in my family, living in a space that is less than half what I live in. Talk about humbling!
While Mrs. D doesn’t believe their household is as efficient as it could/should be and she is always looking for opportunities to pick the brains of women with larger families than hers (which believe me is not an opportunity that comes often!), I find myself watching her and her family and taking note of how they do things, what they buy, where they put things. Most days around our home, it’s a well-orchestrated mess…
Do we have enough diapers? Do we have snacks that will keep them from asking endlessly to eat out? Has everyone gone to the bathroom? Have they kept their water intake to a minimum? Are we far enough away from or close enough to naptime so that no one will melt down?
Mealtimes now require that the older children pitch in because there is more to prepare which equals more to clean up. I could play the martyr and work myself to death, but I am truly blessed by how capable these two little people are. I am so thankful someone told me early on that little people are adults-in-training and can do way more than you realize if you just take the time to train them.
Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord,
The fruit of the womb is a reward.