The Moving Number

I am training a new hire at home this week (it’s a very busy couple of weeks at the Amy school of purchasing).  Normal get to know you chit-chat.

Do you have any kids?

There’s the question.  The question.  How many kids do I have?

That has, since November 2006, been a very long answer

When I married my late husband, he had a daughter and two step-daughters from a previous marriage.  I used to have two daughters and three step-daughters.  When we married, we had all five girls standing with us.  Three with him and two with me.

Time expands; my husband passed.

For a while my late husband’s ex-wife and I made an effort to keep the kids together.  We’d meet in Brighton and I’d send my girls off to Detroit for an extended weekend here and there.

Slowly it changed.  I had two daughters and one step-daughter and two more girls that used to be my step daughters but now we’re facebook friends.

In 2013, my late husband’s daughter wanted to move in with me to go to college on this side of the state.

For a few short months, my kid count was back up – two daughters, one step-daughter.  Plus my new partner’s son added to four kids in our charge.

Time expands.  My step-daughter went back to Detroit for good.  Z went to Gaylord with my parents for the school-years.  Our house got quieter.

I miss the noise and chaos.

My favorite family pictures have always been blended to one degree or another.

How many kids do you have?  How many?  How many kids do you have?

Watching Z’s life events from far-away wasn’t easy.  According to American ideals and standards children don’t move away from home until college.   Z moved in with my parents and it cut pretty deeply.  Not because we were estranged – we weren’t.  We spoke often throughout the week and I made the drive to Gaylord a minimum of every-other weekend.  After she got her driver’s license she’d come down on the weekends I didn’t go up there.  She liked the drive.  Occasionally, she’d stay in GR until Monday morning.  She’d leave home at 5:00am to get to school at 7:00am.

How many kids do you have?  How many?

After a child passes, the question isn’t a fact of matter; it’s a disclosure of very intimate information.  I’ve mentioned this in a previous blog (the intimacy of the question) and it still stands.   I would never tell a stranger the horrors I endured in my first marriage.  I would never tell a stranger about the last night my mom’s dad was alive.  I would never tell a stranger about what it was like to watch my husband die in our bed.  I don’t want to tell a stranger I’ve had a child pass away.

How many kids do you have?  How many?  How many kids do you have?

I have always wondered what it was like for families that didn’t involve stops and starts.  The suburban stay-at-home lives with stable marriages and a fully realized family plan.  I mean, I’m not under the impression single partnered parents lead perfect lives void of heart-break, but answers to simple questions tend to be easier to manage.   (Saying that, I think of my friends that have struggled with miscarriage.)  Sometimes I twinge with a longing for a life that was not mine.

How many kids do you have?  How many?

How many kids do you have?





4 thoughts on “The Moving Number

  1. Stacey January 16, 2018 / 120181America/Detroit

    So for me it depends on whom I’m speaking with and my mood. Usually it’s a simple 3 out loud and a plus 1 in my head. Sometimes my tattoos on my back makes for a conversation that the people looking at them probably wasn’t looking for. It usually goes like this Person: oh those are pretty dolphins, and they have writing above them. What does it say and why does that one not have any color in it? Me: The dolphins represent my children, they go left to right>oldest to youngest with the their names above them. The one that does not have color and does not have a name but a year is the baby we lost.” Person: awkwardly: oh my, oh I’m so sorry. Then they usually walk away.

    You do what works best for you. Love you.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Amy January 16, 2018 / 120181America/Detroit

      I didn’t know you lost a baby. I’m so sorry… Ugh. Love you!


      • Stacey January 21, 2018 / 120181America/Detroit

        Thank you. Love you too.

        Liked by 1 person

  2. scottjohnsonphotograph January 18, 2018 / 120181America/Detroit

    When Pete died, the first few years were very awkward, People would ask about my siblings and I would say I had 4 brothers and one sister. “had”. Silence… and then I would tell them my brother Pete died in 1985, followed by another awkward question, “how”. Depending on the person I would answer. It’s now two questions that must be answered, and I choose to still include her in my count.


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