Well, I don't have a lot of kids, but that doesn't stop me from giving advice. Let's see. 1. Keep a notebook and pen handy. 2. Play with words. 3. Read this book. THE PRIZE WINNER OF DEFIANCE, OHIO: How My Mother Raised 10 Kids on 25 Words or Less by Terry Ryan. I saw this at a library sale and always a sucker for a good human interest story, picked it up. What a woman! Evelyn Ryan raised ten children and with her flair for words won contests that kept her family fed and clothed and housed.
Her husband, Kelly, was an alcoholic. She states in a letter, "the liquor bill has been a ruinous drain on my husband's paycheck. Drinking has wrecked his disposition and made study and homework next to impossible for our children." Yet she persevered. Kelly once accused her of "being too damned happy." Right. She had wit, wisdom, poetry and prose flowing as she ironed clothes.
When her daughter Terry questions her about abandoning her promising career as a writer, this is what Evelyn says:
"I want you to know I don't regret any part of my life, including marrying Dad. I wouldn't trade any one of you kids for a whole illustrious career. Besides, without the ten of you, what would I do for material?"
On that same road trip (come hell or high water) Evelyn says, "There's such a thing as destiny ... Sometimes when your life seems most out of control, you know there's a direction. I don't mean you can't have free will -- in fact, that can be the most important part."
"So you were meant to have ten kids?" Terry asks.
"I feel that I'm doing exactly what I was meant to do in this life. I've never doubted it."
I am doing exactly what I'm meant to do. I've often lamented that I lost my faith, that had I not, I would probably have become a nun, but it looks like matrimony *is* my path to holiness. Maybe I would've been a terrible nun, picking fights with my fellow-sisters. Perhaps I had to have a falling away, a period (albeit too long) of darkness so that I could come back to the light. And how my children have brought me back. Every day they challenge me. And when they really try my patience, I'm fond of telling them, they're shortening my time in purgatory. Apparently, I'm shortening theirs as well :)
Anyway, I recommend this book highly. It is very inspiring and joyful. And ... there's a movie!!!!! We are definitely going to rent this one.
Terry Ryan writes: My mother continued to write almost until the day she died, her spirit and sense of humor unflagging to the end. A week before her death, I lifted a book from a chair at her bedside, and a small handwritten poem fluttered to the floor. It contained precisely 25 words:
Every time I pass the church
I stop and make a visit
So when I'm carried in feet first
God won't say, "Who is it?"