The More the Merrier

I’m an only child who enjoyed being an only child. I enjoyed my friends and playing outside for hours upon hours, but I also enjoyed the time I had by myself. On top of that, I was fairly shy and introverted so I valued my privacy.

When I moved to rural Alaska I was faced with the exact opposite. Many houses are very small and filled with people. When relatives come to visit they know they are welcome crashing on the sofa or sharing a bed. Siblings share sofas and mattresses and sometimes even floor space. When sitting on the sofa, teenagers pile right up next to me and younger kids sprawl on our laps. When traveling with kids for school trips, one sleeps on the same classroom floor as them – or in the same hotel room if traveling to the city. I remember being amazed that students actually know what their teacher’s pj’s look like. It never occurred to me growing up in cities that my teachers even had homes, or lives outside of school, let alone pj’s and specific flavors of toothpaste. It’s nice.

It’s different at first, but there’s a coziness and friendliness and acceptingness that I really have come to embrace.

Yet, I haven’t made any strides to change things in my own day to day life. I’m more open about saying, “come on by”, but I’m also happy when people call ahead so that I can prepare a bit. I like the idea of our house being filled with guests and visitors, but I also really like our quiet space as we get ready to go to bed. I’m torn with images of friendly vibrant busy homes and the quiet peaceful easiness of our own where our time is our own.

And amidst this ongoing conflict, I notice the messages I send to my kids.

Tonight I was lying on the sofa (still am) plum tired with only one eye managing to stay open at any time. Little girl was sitting in my lap and I was reading a book with her. Little boy ran up and asked if he could join in and as he climbed up to also sit on my lap, I heard myself saying some words I’d been saying quite a bit…”The More the Merrier”.

4 Comments

Filed under Life in Alaska, Life with Kids

4 responses to “The More the Merrier

  1. Love it! Such a quaint picture you paint.

  2. tangledlou

    It’s funny, but my experience is almost exactly the opposite – a middle child of 3, never my own space, a house full of company all the time growing up. Now our home is our sacred space. We are sociable, but rarely have the sort of revolving door kind of hospitality that I grew up with. We love to go out with friends, meet them somewhere, but not often in our home.
    This is a lovely piece and makes me wonder what my own children will do?

    • I can’t imagine growing up without privacy and space and quiet areas. Even now I know that I love when my children nap at separate times because then the other gets the chance to just play on their own. Yet, I’ve learned to really love that phrase you used “a revolving door kind of hospitality” but am just not quite gutsy enough to give up what we have.

      We have a friend traveling overseas and he blogs about the friendliness and generosity of strangers. I’d love to just invite strangers to my house for dinner, but the idea stresses me out. What the heck would I feed them? And when I’m stressed, the only thing I can think of is PB&J which doesn’t seem very exciting.

      Yes – it is interesting wondering what our children will create for their future! Maybe mine will be super sociable and I can get it all at their house and then go home to my quiet one!

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