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“I can barely handle my two kids, I don’t know how you do it!”

This is the phrase I most often hear when we are out in public. A close second is the phrase “you have your hands full!” I realize that in this age of convenience our family represents an odd throwback to the days when people had a lot of kids so they could slop the hogs and gather brown eggs from the henhouse.

We don’t have that excuse. Slopping the dog doesn’t take an army and our white eggs are gathered in cartons of 18 from Costco.

So, why do we have all these kids running around? I have often posed this question to myself and to God, and this is the answer I usually receive: because you have so very much to learn.

Like what? I ask.

Like what happened to all of the spoons? comes the answer, sometimes in a whisper, sometimes in a thunderbolt.

I once wrote, on a forum dedicated to moms with “Tons Of Kids,” that one of the surprises I discovered about having a large family is that we never have enough spoons. Most people ask us about paying for college, car insurance, and how many bedrooms we have. They don’t realize the real hardship lies in trying to find a spoon for Sammy’s Apple Cinnamon Cheerios.

When we got married we registered for a lovely Oneida pattern, with the intention it would be ours for life. We received 8 teaspoons and 8 larger non-soup spoons. 16 spoons represented several bowls of cereal, ice cream, and some more bowls of ice cream that could be eaten without having to wash dishes. We faced the future head-on, armed with a sufficient supply of spoons. Or so we thought…

Then we were attacked by toddlers who were in the bad habit of toddling right up to the trash can with car keys, remotes, and spoons. Sometimes we caught them trying to throw objects away. Sometimes we didn’t. Our spoon supply began to dwindle over the years until we realized we were handwashing spoons before each meal. We can’t explain what happened to each spoon—not all of them could have been thrown away. Some are probably in the yard, snuck out of the house in a pocket to dig troughs and roads for little cars. Some ( ahem) may have been left in an employee lounge, along with (ahem) Tupperware.

A few months ago we visited the Oneida website, searched through the patterns until we found ours, and ordered more spoons for the kids.

We guard them like precious commodities. We count them, treasure them, and keep tabs on where they are. We do our best to keep them out of the trash.

And the spoons, too.

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  • comment avatar Heth October 17, 2007

    I think of this post every time I find spoons in the sandbox. Which is often.

    It’s a favorite.

  • comment avatar Annie October 17, 2007

    You, my dear, are an over-achiever. I’m impressed that you actually went to the Oneida website to find matching spoons.

    When my kids were smaller, I would just buy extra spoons at The Walmart. A bundle of six for a dollar! Having your tongue turn green is just the price you pay for a good deal.

  • comment avatar Gretchen aka mopsy October 17, 2007

    LOL, Annie…

    We have bolstered our silverware supply even more, thanks to Target.

  • comment avatar Janelle October 17, 2007

    So you don’t say – how many kids do you have? Big families are great!

  • comment avatar Catherine Dix October 17, 2007

    Oh, Gretchen, this truly said it all. As a mother of four, I can vouch for the fact that spoons are as precious as nap time.

  • comment avatar Shannon @ some fine taters October 18, 2007

    Dude, our Oneida pattern came with 16 teaspoons and 8 of everything else (yes, including 8 larger spoons). And since I come from a large family, I knew just how brilliant this was!

  • comment avatar Gretchen aka mopsy October 18, 2007

    Janelle—we have six kids.

  • comment avatar JoAnn October 18, 2007

    I think of you everytime I’m down another spoon. It happens here OFTEN!

    It’s not just at your house. And I only have 3 little ones.!

  • comment avatar Gretchen November 1, 2007

    Recently, I ‘had’ to buy new silverware as we were down to three forks. In a family of five, that’s not enough…


  • comment avatar Alisha November 13, 2007

    I absolultely love the part where you got the response “because you have so much to learn.” I never thought of it that way but I know that it is true. I have definately learned that I need help, from my husband, family, and God to do this “parenting” thing, and I have learned more about love, patience, and respect that I ever knew!