Ever since I moved in with my in-laws almost three years ago, I’ve been asked many times how I can live with so many people in one house. They think I’m a little crazy because my immediate family already consists of two adults and three small children–that alone should be pretty snug for a little townhome, yet on top of that, we have managed to squeeze in with my husband’s parents as well as my husband’s two younger brothers. With that, my children have had the absolute privilege of growing up with their doting grandparents and the most fun-loving uncles they could ever ask for, and altogether, we have made up our very own east coast, Korean style version of the old classic sitcom, Full House.
And yes, sometimes it is very full…too full—full of dishes piled up in the sink, mounds of laundry waiting to be washed, and trashcans overflowing to the brim. Some days, the only thing this house seems to lack are vacant bathrooms when there is an urgent potty call (we’ve had way too many close calls), privacy even if it is just to take care of that business in the bathroom, and ok, that much needed peace and quiet, especially when the baby is sleeping.
But I still love our home and would not choose to have it any other way. It was not a “failure to launch,” as some may think, or something we are doing because we have no other choice, but it was a careful, thought out decision we made after we felt prompted by the Lord and it has been one of the best moves we have ever made.
I will tell you why.
Today, Micah got a nasty splinter. It was one of those really deep ones embedded completely beneath the skin. When tweezers didn’t work, I got out my sewing needle, but after scraping around not really knowing what I was doing, I let go of his poor pulsating finger. By this point, Micah was screaming and crying and Kindle was traumatized just watching her older brother in such distress and ran to her bed to hide under the blanket.
Finally, I resorted to google to find other ways to remove the splinter and was soon standing in front of a counter crowded with Elmer’s glue, duct tape, baking soda, and vinegar. I wouldn’t have looked so foolish if one of these so-called remedies actually worked, but the stubborn splinter would not budge. So what did we do? Put a Band-Aid on and wait for grandma to come home. Everyone knows grandma has the magic touch and this time was no different. In less than one minute, the splinter was out, and this time, no tears.
More times than I can count, grandma and grandpa and uncles have come to the rescue and assisted me in dire times of need. They have held crying babies, taken the plunge into clogged toilets, chipped in for broken appliances, and helped shovel out cars in blizzards of snow. All this and more, they have done for me and my family.
Still, these are not the main reasons why I love living in our home. It’s not about the delicious home cooked meals, the free childcare, or even the ability to save money just by living together….although those are all great perks too.
These are some of the things I really cherish:
Having conversations with my in-laws which always take a turn to be stories of the faithfulness of God. I see a bigger picture of life through them.
My son being around not only his dad, but also his uncles who can run around with him playing Avengers one minute and then softly hold his hand while laying around the next minute. He is seeing that guys can be both tough and tender at the same time.
Grandparents being able to see their grandchildren literally grow before their eyes. It is their greatest delight in this world, and food for the soul, especially when life can be less than they expected.
The endless number of OTHER people who are regular guests of people in our home and whom we have also grown to call family. All our hearts have expanded because of both the sheer quantity AND quality of these friends.
Being able to pull up a chair to the table and eat at any hour of the day because there will always be someone there offering to share their food with you. Relationship is built around breaking bread around the table, even if it is just one bowl of fried rice and three spoons digging in.
Seeing the Bible being studied regularly and songs of praise on the lips of so many. It’s all about loving God first and loving God the most here.
Witnessing and being part of frequent run-ins and conflicts and then being able to forgive and still want to live with each other. It can be the hardest to get along with those you live with, but if you can do that, I’m convinced you can love anyone.
And just one more…
Laughing. Laughing at the toddler who randomly smacks the grandma’s rear in passing, the uncle who is running around looking for his misplaced wallet, the other uncle who farted in the corner, and the grandpa who is passed out and making weird noises on the couch.
I love it all.
We are learning about life, we are learning about people, and most importantly, we are learning about love.
We may not always live this way, but until then, I remain thankful for this rich and sweet time of being one big happy family in our oh so overly full house, full of wonderful lessons and memories that I will never forget.