Every year I take a moment to list the things for which I’m thankful. This year it is family—the new member of our little sailing crew, the proximity of blood relations, and our extended “family” here at the marina.
First, I never could have guessed how Rachel would forever change our family chemistry. This time last year, we were cruising in the Bahamas, I was pregnant, and not 100% happy about it. There was definitely some trepidation and discomfort, not to mention that I couldn’t find a maternity wetsuit and I was cold when snorkeling! But this year, to see the way the other kids have responded to adding a new sibling, I no longer wonder why God chose to answer Sarah’s prayers for Rachel. The two big boys have become even more responsible and helpful, and Sam and Sarah have blossomed as entertainer and caretaker, respectively. Rachel herself is a little bit of sunshine that makes everyone smile.
Walking around with five children in tow causes quite a stir. Everyone, and I mean everyone, I meet says, “I don’t know how you do it.” I have a repertoire of responses, usually deflecting admiration (nothing worse than falling off of a pedestal), and I give a lot of credit to the help that has come my way this year. So, how does one survive on a boat with five children, operate a homeschool and manage a household with a husband who travels during the week? Without the kindness of those people who have been placed in our lives at just the right time, who have become an extended family for us, it would not be possible.
Once or twice a week, friends from the marina take the kids for a couple of hours to play a video game or watch TV (since they’re deprived at home) and give me a little break. Sometimes we go on long walks with another friend which are great for exercise and free therapy. There are others who come by once a week to give me moral and practical support, help out with the kids, fold laundry, or do some baby-sitting so I can get off the boat. Sometimes we meet a friend for dinner at the little Italian place on Main Street, and sometimes delicious food just sort of turns up right around dinner time. When Jay’s gone, there are guys around at just the right moment to help with any heavy lifting or other “blue” jobs. And for all those that have helped, a dozen more have offered. I think it’s appropriate that we’ll be at the marina pot-luck for Thanksgiving this year, celebrating with this extended “family.”
Last, but not least, I am so thankful that our relatives are nearby. While there isn’t anyone close enough to help out in a daily way, I have often had visitors or made an escape of a day or two to the north or south and spent time with moms, dads, brothers and sisters and given the kids that precious gift of getting to know their grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. It’s the thing we miss most when we are traveling, and although part of me wishes we were out there instead of here at the dock, the other part of me is thankful that we are only an hour or two from both families.
To all of you who have helped us this year (you know who you are)—I offer my heartfelt gratitude and wishes for a happy Thanksgiving!