While standing in a cozy, haphazard semi-circle around my grandfather’s grave on Christmas Day last year, my grandmother remarked, “Just think, all these people are here becaues of 2 people.”  And she was right. Not even all of her 9 children were there, yet the 7 that were, along with their families, created a small tribe of noises and happy commotion.

Three little girls sat on a memorial, pretending it was their horse, siblings posed and snapped pictures, and others milled around, taking it all in.

Maybe it’s just the habit of blending in with a large family, but large groups of people have a numbing effect on my vocal chords.

I sometimes wish I was one of the louder, more boisterous personalities like my grandma, making friends with the masses and spouting off witty remarks.  But I just love observing it all (kind of a pattern lately, see “Spectator“).

I like to think that I inherited some of this from my grandpa, who did a lot of observing.  He was quieter, but always contemplative.  He saw things.  And just when I’d kind of wonder whether he was really with me, he’d either crack some quiet joke or make some interesting observation.

My toddler tends to take after her grandma, however, so I wasn’t overly-surprised to hear her yell, ‘towers!  Knock ‘em down” as she pointed to the gravestones, which caused me to wonder about the wisdom of bringing young, rowdy children to a graveyard on a day when there may be people silently mourning loved ones.

My worry increased as my 5-year-old began prancing from stone to stone, pausing to ask loudly “And who died here?…..And who died here?” at each one.

Since darkness nipped at our heels, night blindness made it increasingly difficult to watch my children as they sprang around the graveyard like it was a playground.  Fortunately for large families, my college-aged cousins chased them around while other family members called out, “please get off that” as they climbed up on strangers’ gravestones.  There was a time not too long ago where a situation like this would have upset me.  Losing control and allowing others to intervene used to bother me.

But I guess the saying, “It takes a village” has proven true for me on so many occasions that I began to feel grateful for the times when others step in to help parent my children.  Now I often feel perplexed when I see friends or family get annoyed when other people correct their children, as if they are the only ones in the world permitted to help keep their kids safe and respectful.  Most of the time I am relieved when people help keep my kids in line because I know it’s for the benefit of everyone, including my children.

It takes many eyes, many hands, and many chasing feet to raise children.

I guess in a way it takes a certain amount of humility too.  Allowing others to correct your child, especially when you are present, is not easy.  I imagine that many parents– sighted or not– feel threatened or embarrassed when others step in, as if their role as parents in being judged…. and this is one way to look at it.  But here’s another: I feel like people love me and my kids enough to help me see what’s going on with them– figuratively and literally.

I don’t know why I’m going on about this, except to say that it’s a lesson that my visual challenges have taught me that I think could be helpful to many parents who might find themselves getting unnecessarily upset in these situations.

We all need help sometimes, and that doesn’t say anything negative about our parenting or our character.  In fact, quite the opposite; the way we set aside our pride and respond to assistance says volumes.  This comes from someone who often links arms with pride.  I don’t think I’d have the same appreciation for my large, amazing family if I didn’t take the time to step back once in awhile and lift the veil long enough to examine what’s really going on.

There’s a lot of wisdom and a lot of beauty waiting to be unveiled out there….. in places like school drop-off lines and playgrounds and grocery stores and graveyards.

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15 thoughts on “Large Families and Humble Parenting: The Graveyard on Christmas Part 2

    • Ha– you’re so right! My husband rarely reprimands the kids, but when he does, I feel so satisfied knowing that my girls get to see him as the “bad guy” once in awhile. 🙂 Hopefully they know it’s out of love. 🙂

  1. I love reading this! It was quite thought provoking as I am now living in a culture where most older ladies feel VERY free to let me know if my baby is dressed too warm or too cold, or if she has a cold and probably shouldn’t be out, and so on. I usually find myself smiling and saying thanks while gritting my teeth and thinking, “mind your own business” thoughts, so this was good for me to read. I guess it does take, “many eyes, many hands, and many chasing feet” and I would add many sweet ladies at Walmart…I hope these posts are going to be in a book someday- you are a wonderful writer!

    • Haha! Old ladies at Walmart…. too funny. You’re allowed to feel frustrated with their comments, especially if they’re strangers…. not always sure strangers are helping out of love like friends and family are. But hopefully they are well-meaning. Sometimes people do need to mind their own business, but I’m glad that you can look at their comments a little differently and hopefully not let them get to you! Thanks for reading and for your input, Sara!

  2. Great post Joy! I have thought about that before for when I do have children haha I’m sure I’d be the embarrassed and annoyed person at first when people will tell me what to do with kids. But, you’re right, how else will they learn social norms and to respect other people if no one else corrects them? =)

  3. Thank you for the encouragement. When the daylight wanes, and we are out, my husband is suddenly a single parent, unless we are with friends or family. Great reminder to count my blessings and not feel upset.

    • So true! And yes, the single-parent comment is real. In fact, I’m not sure why my husband wasn’t chasing the girls on Christmas– I think he was taking photos!

  4. Another great post, Joy! We are continually reminded of the joys of large family. I feel so blessed. Even though it is hard to not be there right now with grandma after her stroke, I feel comforted to know she is in such good hands with Janine and everyone back there. I love and appreciate how you and jenelle allow the extended family to assist you and your kids “with grace.” You both are beautiful ladies inside and out, and are doing a great job parenting your wonderful kids.

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