Yesterday, I partook in my favorite activity - helping people move. My sister is going through some life changes and was forced to sell her dream home, so she put out a plea to the six siblings and their spouses, to come and help.
And I cried.
Wherever there's a truck to drive and free workouts, I'm in. I spent the rainy afternoon driving back and forth from the house to the destination, giving my kids rides, and testing the 0 - 60 capabilities of the 17-footer U-Haul truck. (It's 20 seconds, by the way).
My bride and all six kids were there, along with half-a-dozen other cousins. The kids all pitched in, then enjoyed themselves in all the echo-ey rooms, while we adults prepared lunch and did all the things that adults do when there is moving to be done.
Most of my siblings are some form of Christian, from devout fundamentalist, to John Piper-esque, to Sunday morning if you can roll out of bed every few months, to nearly ecumenical, unless in a theological discussion, to one devout and very pious atheist. The atheist doesn't talk much.
Then there's me. The odd ball of the bunch. I shirked my religious upbringings early on and was summarily treated with suspicion. I firmly believe that much of that treatment was inadvertent. Growing up in severe fundamentalist Christianity, as my siblings and most of their spouses did, it is difficult to accept a brother who jumps off the cliff, willingly, especially when children are involved.
And, quite frankly, my children are very inquisitive and curious. We talk about religion, theism, atheism, and life, all the time. Some of them have chosen to be super-atheist, while my 11-year-old wants desperately to believe in God, being that Grandpa is her favorite person in the whole world, and he believes in the sky fairy too.
And this is what mattered to my siblings. My children weren't like theirs. They had good children. Controlled. Godly. Mine were rambunctious and free. Sometimes a curse word would escape their lips. "Oh my god!" is a frequent phrase while doing flips on a trampoline, eating an ice cream cone with chocolate sprinkles on top.
In my view, this bothered my brothers and sisters. They no longer came around. We were invited, less and less, to birthday parties, or just because. Family passed us by. We hurt for a while, then shrugged and moved on.
But, just once...I wanted someone to see that I did a damn good job as a parent, even if I wasn't forcing them to love a dead guy because he poured his blood on them.
As the moving progressed, I lost track of my kids. Except for the ones I was entertaining in the truck, I only caught glimpses of them, playing with the cousins, holding babies, eating cookies, and drinking pop.
The day ended and we went our merry ways. I thought nothing more of my siblings, as work called me to put my nose into programming an application the entirety of Memorial Day.
Then I received a text from my oldest sister, the contents of which read:
Just have to let you know...Your kids are awesome! They're so gentle and kind with other kids, as well as creatively helping them to solve problems. Plus, they are so friendly and respectful! :D Great job guys! ;)All I could think to respond with was, "Fuck me! God damn! Thank the ever living Christ for that!"
And I cried.