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Writings on Motherhood, Judaism, and Happily-Ever-Afters

The Screamers

I’ve got a minivan.  Like most moms of five (and for the purposes of this blog post, I’ve got five – the odd thing about being a stepparent is that sometimes I’ve got five and sometimes I’ve got three).  So three kids sit in the way back and two in the middle.  We call it “Little Butt Cohens in the Back” because Jessie and Sam are both still relatively tiny enough and can fit on either side of Julianna’s big car seat comfortably.  That means that my three are the farthest away from me, with Julie in the middle spot and Jess and Sam on either side.  Then Lilli and Sarah sit in the middle spot.  It’s cramped and crowded, and because I’ve got a zillion kids, my car is constantly a mess, filled with books and snacks and sippie cups and sporting equipment and jackets and whatever else we manage to drag out to the van.

So I’m driving home last night from a cookout at my in-laws house.  Actually, and it’s important for this story, I wasn’t driving, but rather was in the passenger seat with a book in my lap.  Marc was driving along, and oddly enough, Marc is impervious to noise.  Just doesn’t bother him even a little bit.  If pointed out, he’ll just grin and say that they’re having fun.  Which they were.  Because all five kids were screaming.  I mean, full out, no holds barred screaming at the top of their lungs, for no real reason that I could decipher.  My stepdaughters were half heartedly bickering, not actually fighting but teasing each other to make the other one scream, and they were also half still playing a game that they had been playing at the cookout.  My three were screaming in the back but because they were farther away, I can’t tell exactly what they were yelling about.  From what I could tell (and believe me, I really didn’t explore this too much, as the volume was off-putting), they were pretending to be secret agents and holling into water bottles with code words and hysteria.

It was loud.  I mean, really, really loud.  We stopped to get air in my tire, and I saw the look on the woman walking back to her car.  She glanced over at my rocking mini-van, filled with screaming, delighted, LOUD children and had a look on her face that was possibly pity.  It’s probable that, not knowing that they weren’t screaming out of frustration, they were just screaming with the sheer joy of being together on a beautiful night, that I would have looked with pity at the spectacle.   Because from the outside, it looked unpleasant.  Poor, tired (because it had been a LONG weekend, and I was exhausted) mom, trapped in an old battered minivan with hordes of SCREAMING children.

I grew up as the oldest of four (or six, depending, have to love stepfamilies), and learned at an early age to just tune out noise as well.  As long as I’ve got a book in my lap, I can concentrate on that, and for the most part, the noise didn’t really bother me.   I knew that they weren’t angry or frustrated, I could pick out each individual voice, and even Julianna was back there screaming along happily.

The odd thing was, it was kind of awesome.  I mean, I’ve got these five kids.  All healthy, all gorgeous, and all completely delighted to be with each other.  And who knows how many more times that’ll happen?  My oldest stepdaughter is thirteen, she’s not going to think it’s fun to scream with her younger siblings forever.  How many more summer nights do I have when I can cram my van full and drive around with five kids absolutely thrilled to be there?  They’re all growing up so fast, and it really does go by in a flash.  So what if they’re loud?  So what if the car is a mess, and the tire needs air, and I’m exhausted and still have to do baths for the grubby toddler and five year old?  This, right now, this moment was awesome.  And now that I think back, maybe it wasn’t pity on the woman’s face.  Maybe it was envy – because what I have is amazing.

(I’m linking up with http://yeahwrite.me/62-open-challenge/ this week – an awesome writer’s blog, really great for finding new blogs)

23 Responses to “The Screamers

  1. you are… awesome. if it were me i would jumped out of a moving vehicle to get away from it. xD (i dont handle noise very well it makes me anxious) You rawk! Seriously. HERO!

  2. As the oldest of 4 and a parent to 4. I totally loved and appreciated this. I "get" it! 🙂

  3. What a great perspective! It all really is so fleeting. Maybe I should just join in with the screaming the next time my kids do it.

  4. Aw, great post. It totally depends upon your perspective, and you have the right one!

  5. Great post. It's wild– sometimes the screaming bugs me and sometimes it delights me. It's getting louder every day. SOmetimes I just join them and start screaming. Good times.

  6. It probably was envy; I have two and I envy women who have five, or four, or three. The good moments so outweigh the bad ones, especially if you can focus on the good as you have here. Wonderful post.

  7. Now I'm feeling guilty. I can't tune out the screams and I do tell them not to. I do try and reflect that it won't be this way forever. Too bad their is so much other stress going on in life that screaming kids completely unnerve me at times.

  8. I have 5 kids, aged 13 and under, so I can relate to this. However, the days when I think 5 screaming children are a good thing are few and far between. Most of the time, I'm ready to pull my hair out. Now that I've read this, I think I need to change my attitude. Great post!

  9. This remind me of my childhood, right down to the minivan and the five kids. You are right, it won't last forever, one day they will be too cool for any of it. So I'm glad you enjoyed.

    Sounds like a great day and it made me nostalgic.

  10. Yay for stepfamilies!
    I LOVE your Zen-ness about the screaming. You have brought me so much perspective. 🙂
    Thanks for that, and thanks for sharing!

  11. Glad you could see the joy in that! I imagine it'd be a little tough through all the screaming..

  12. Funny, but this is one of the things I love the most when all of the kids are together. Mine, his, the neighbors. The noise and the pleasure I can see them getting from it.

  13. Ah yes! I have 5 kids too and sometimes the screaming in the minivan is torturous. I love the way you choose to look at it and I agree 100%. Awesome post!

  14. Kudos to you for being able to handle the noise! I love how alive big families are (we want five as well,) but I have one rule — no screaming in the minivan. They can scream inside the house and outside and wherever their little lungs feel the need to scream. Except the car. Ever.

    But you are right. It goes so fast, and I love that you were able to enjoy the magic of the moment.

  15. Wonderful story! I love how you can look at the screaming (which, by the way, usually drives me to losing it) and think – how amazing that they are having this joy 🙂

  16. Our minivan days are behind us, but I remember them well. Long family trips with bored or screaming children. Then I discovered the secret to peace and harmony: portable DVD players, one for each child. It was like injecting them with sedatives. I almost felt guilty – almost.

  17. Wow! As an only child and a parent of an only child, I would be one of those people staring at your van in disbelief…and maybe just a little bit of jealousy as well. Grab those moments of joy and suck them all in.

  18. oh, that they are enjoying each other…enjoying life. what an awesome {loud} time in your life.

  19. I totally agree. It's annoying, but kids are loud. I only struggle because we're in a town house but the neighbors next door are just as bad, so…scream on!

  20. Totally appreciated this one!

  21. the screaming I can handle…but the screaming in the car thing makes me nuts. maybe because i live in a city with people who have taken to using the city streets as their personal Formula One race-track. Tad nerve-wracking. BUT that notwithstanding, to look at those faces and be able to see the joy – that is a gift, indeed.

  22. Talk about perspective! Kudos to you. 🙂

  23. Enjoy those moments while you can. And get some earplugs.

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