09 April 2012

We Are (Unplanned) Family

I went back and read last year's Easter post, which I remember typing in bed after I spent the day at the hospital. This year, family and friends visited, the teenagers hid the eggs for the little cousins, and we ate every bit of our simple, satisfying meal. As a bonus, the Knicks beat the Bulls in overtime, and a nice man named Bubba hugged his mom and cried after he won the Masters. It was a good day.

Two returned from Europe late Friday night, tired but happy. We got to hear a few stories about the hotels and the beautiful cathedrals, and he distributed small gifts he'd purchased for us all. He gave me a very charming coffee mug, which means he's been paying attention to my work process all these years.

While Two was away, the Captain and I delighted in the effect of a little-known phenomenon called "Minus One." You may be unfamiliar with this if you have fewer than five children, but it is also known as the "No More Than Four" rule. If we remove one child from the mix, the house becomes disproportionately calm. The truly odd component is that it doesn't matter which child leaves. Peace and quiet reigns in every variation.

We have decided this is God's way of illustrating the beauty of family planning. You know, God created Earth first, which means He's heavily invested in protecting it. Too many earthlings are a drain on the natural resources, which is really why humans should follow the "No More Than Four" rule of procreation. There are subtle reminders of this in our daily life. Beer and soda get sold in six-packs. Sure, you can buy a dozen doughnuts, but that means no seconds for one unlucky soul. Heck, even our van only has real seatbelts for six occupants. The poor guy stuck on the 60/40 split in the rear has to use the temporary belt that pulls down from the ceiling. When it's not actively engaged in saving your life, it's trying to strangle you, in order to restore natural balance.

Two had been away from his friends Charlie and Keenan during spring break, so he immediately invited them over on Saturday. By immediately, I mean around two o'clock, after he'd been asleep for twelve hours. We were going to attend Easter Vigil instead of Easter Sunday Mass, but Charlie scored Rangers tickets from a friend, so the Captain took all three boys to Madison Square Garden. The seats were awesome, the Rangers were not, but it was a nice experience for the Captain. He enjoys spending time with his boys, which gets harder as they age. Plus, he's a Rangers fan.

Keenan and Charlie ended up spending the night with us, and at nine-thirty the next morning, we divided up between two cars and went to Mass. We always sit in the front row so the little people can see what's going on, so I imagine our testosterone-filled pew was quite a sight for all the folks behind us.

Before we were married, the Captain and I attended "Marriage Encounter," which is designed to help couples navigate life beyond wedded bliss. There was a seminar on "natural family planning," because the Catholic church isn't big on contraception. I remember being outraged because, at the time, I was a little more vocal about my feminist beliefs. Little did I know that I would become the poster gal for their doctrine. But on Sunday, as I looked down the row and saw boy, boy, boy, boy, boy, little boy, man, and little boy, I couldn't have been more proud.


18 comments:

  1. Yesterday one of the clients accused me of having an 'inappropriate chuckle' over the phone. Don't worry my supervisor thought it was funny because actually the client was being unreasonable.
    I think my chuckle over the 'minus one' phenomenon was entirely appropriate.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I am chuckling at the phrase "inappropriate chuckle!" In our house, it would automatically get turned into something involving a penis, as in "Keep your inappropriate chuckle in your pants," or "I'll show you an inappropriate chuckle..." You get the idea-it's a gift, really.

      Delete
    2. Oh to live with boys how I miss it.
      I made fun of you oops I mean mentioned you in my blog today.

      Delete
  2. We went to precana and the natural birth control talk only registered with us when the presenter said--counting days is how we got pregnant so when you want to have a baby, do the math. We got pregnant the first month we tried so there's something to it, just not much on the pregnancy prevention front.

    The minus one factor also works in a classroom although this year i need at least minus THREE to achieve some sort of clarity in the group. Most years it doesn't matter who is absent as long as it's one fewer student...this year it makes a big ol' difference.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well to be fair, they did call it "natural family PLANNING," not prevention. We just never planned.

      You need contagion in your class to achieve those numbers. Hide the Purell.

      Delete
  3. I adore your stories and had a wonderful visual of you and "all the boys" sitting in church. It made me smile. Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It was a wonderful scene. We've known Two's friends since he was in kindergarten, so in many ways I feel like they're mine, too. Charlie calls me M2 (second mother), and I'm M4 to Keenan, although I told him he needs to bump me up a few spaces. After all these years, I want to be right behind Mom and Step-mom!

      Delete
  4. I remember it to be so true when you and your siblings were growing up. It didn't matter which one of you were away for the night or whatever, the whole chemistry of the house changed. It was always more peaceful. But then when you each left for college the change in the household was different. Perhaps the difference was in me. It became grossly unfair to me that by the time I grew to like you as people, realized that we could communicate on an emotional level, had a new level of intelligence and we enjoyed each others company, then you all left - for good. And then I REALLY missed you.
    I love your post and the mental pictures you've given me. Thanks Meg. Keep writing.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm sure I'll feel the same way, although I'm not convinced they'll ever all leave. Wait until you see all the boys, especially Two, Charlie and Keenan! They're huge! But still goofy. Keenan was so excited about the egg hunt until I told him his job was to HIDE the eggs, not find them!

      Delete
    2. Haha! I can't stop giggling at this. I wish that I had been there.

      Janet

      Delete
    3. You can imagine it because you know them:

      "We're having an egg hunt..."

      "SWEET!"

      "Um, for the little people."

      "Ohhh. Bummer."

      Delete
  5. My mom was a huge (Catholic) proponent of the rhythm method. She had eight kids. She insists that if she hadn't been 42 when my youngest brother was born, she'd have kept going. We still tease her that, while she used the rhythm method, her rhythm was: baby, 18 months, baby, 18 months, baby...

    Oh, and the minus one factor works when you have four kids, too. It's weird.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Baby, baby, cha, cha, cha! For all my whining about peri-menopause, my body doesn't seem to have gotten the full memo. It keeps gearing up to grow another human. Really? I'm 47! Perhaps it's waiting for an official retirement party. Note to self: buy balloons, silly hats, and cake.

      Delete
  6. We have the minus one phenom too, only it's the calm with only three in the house. I'd say we'd should have only had three, except most likely "we" shouldn't have had any!

    I like the picture I get in my head when I read your posts too. And the inappropriate chuckles.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. We must now contact parents with only three children to ask if Minus One works for them!

      I'm getting excited to see you and swap stories in a few weeks!

      Delete
    2. Yep. It certainly does.


      (I thought I left a pithy remark here someplace. Obviously not. It's been a wild few days. What with the Plus One [and a dog too] happening right now.)

      Delete
    3. It's hard to be pithy when people and animals are in your space. Dogs are notorious for chewing the pith.

      Delete

It is now incredibly easy to comment! Feel free to stop lurking, and add your opinion. Yes, I'm talking to you Moscow, and the Philippines. You, too, Australia. And what's going on down there in Georgia? Do you feel the same as Arizona? Let me know. Politely.