The Circus of Life


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Someone once said “parenting is only hard if you care.” I must have cared too much. If my angst wasn’t obvious on the outside, it was FULL THROTTLE on the inside.  I fretted over every.  single.  detail.  Circumstancially, we had four children under the age of two. Four were in diapers at ONE TIME. Sometimes things were insane (more like frequently to be completely honest). Ofcourse I got some help (with child care and the counseling sort). But despite the “circus of life” our family has lived, I am finally seeing a positive outcome- the fruits of our labor are sprouting!

We are still actively parenting, don’t be fooled I think our job is complete.  But a recent family gathering shed light on how far we have come.  Mind you, structured chaos was where we started but fine young men and a young lady were what I saw this weekend. Our daughter brought home her first “suitor” (male friend with serious potential) and the entire family was present.  She actually WANTED us all there to meet this person.  I was so shocked that I even questioned her decision.  I was a little afraid we would embarass her with our Type A, boisterous behavior.  Worse, I feared her father’s inquisition of this criminal, I mean boyfriend.

Turns out, by the time he left, I had the epiphany that all went pretty well overall and that if he got scared off, it wasn’t because we weren’t kind, open and accepting.  Our family is super loud (check).  Our family is upfront and open (what you see is what you get).  Our family is accepting and warm (we don’t care your race or religion- in fact, the more different, the more interesting). Our family is there for each other (we might rip each other to shreds occasionally but we show up for one another).  There are no secrets (no skeletons in our closets, we parade them).

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At first I chided my husband to watch his mouth, excessive questioning, and tendency to put a plate on the ground for the dog to lick.  I just knew that would send this guy packing.  I couldn’t get rid of the 5 rescue animals either so just went with all of it.  The first night was rough and my husband accused me of trying to create a diamond out of coal in my backside.  (Go ahead and laugh, it’s probably partly true.)  However, tensions and pretensions eased throughout the weekend and finally her friend was able to joke he was moving his flight up.  I knew things were cool then.

Our three sons were amazing.  One even spoke so highly of his sister that I teared up. They all attended everything we wanted (doesn’t happen enough) and behaved very well.  They were actually being respectful of their sister.  None did what they joked about prior like wrestling him (they are triplet males, wrestling is their love language) or challenging him in weight lifting. Talking about making a mama proud!

My sister said we need to be on a reality show. I find our unscripted reality frequently hilarious. As someone once said, “You can’t make this stuff up.” But we have stayed together and we love each other, even when it has not been easy to do.  The “Circus of Life” the Turners lived, live and will live is worth the ticket price.  I’m in.

two white and red admission tickets
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It began in 1997. It was a beautiful, spring day and I was headed less than a half mile away to the local hospital for a scheduled ultrasound. Now, mind you, this was when some OB/GYN offices did not have their own machinery. Thus, we little folk herded into the waiting room to be seen by the local ultrasound tech. Being that I had a napping 1 year old, my husband came home from work (100 yards away) and ate lunch while I meandered to that appointment. Once there, another couple I knew had an entire waiting room full with them for their ultrasound appointment. I was alone. I had no idea how prophetic that would become.

After pleasantries with the other large family, I sat and waited. Luckily one of my former students from the exercise class I taught was my tech. She and I happily yapped about everything as she proceeded with my routine ultrasound.  Once started she paused and said, “Oh my!  Katie, you’re having twins!  You can cry now.”  I was mute and completely blindsided. (I wasn’t one to fantasize about children, number of children or desire for ANY sized family.) I was in shock and my mind went blank. Then, she said those words, “Wait, uhm, I think there’s one more, uhm, wait, uhm, let me get the radiologist to look at this.”  As I lie there asking, “What!?!” (And this was before the meme portraying WTF!?!) my mind raced.  I was completely freaked out with the possibility of multiples. I wasn’t the ideal candidate for motherhood. I didn’t really enjoy babysitting, had few child care skills and honestly, felt disliked by most kids I came in contact. My mother wasn’t available to equip me as she developed Alzheimer’s disease in her late 40’s. Let’s face it, I was NOT who you’d want to be your mom.  But, as fate would have it, God calls the least equipped to show His strength. So, as I lie, my friendly tech comes back into the exam room where I finally ask, “Are there any more??”  That was my first spoken thought…four children, what?  How do I do that?  I have an 1100 sq.ft. house, a two door car and no income myself. (My husband and I had tried to go it on one salary. Little did we know what was to come!)

So I drive my two door car back to our tiny house where my husband simply asked, “What?” when I mutely looked at him in desperation. I truly couldn’t speak. How do you tell someone they are about to go from one to four children nonchalantly?  I just started handing him stuffed animals. One, two, three, four I handed. He only said one word, “Cool!”