From where I do my back exercises upstairs, I can listen to my three girls exercising in the basement. Their ages are currently sixteen, twenty, and thirty. I can hear lots of laughter and happy chattering. Next comes silence when they are working hard, and it starts all over again.
On Anna’s twentieth birthday, they decided they wanted to have a sewing day. They dug through the sewing cupboards for fabric that needed to be used, picked out patterns, and brought their sewing machines, cutting mats, and ironing board to the dining room so they could be together while they worked on their projects.
These three girls spend hours with each other doing kitchen work, and I still hear them talking when they go to bed at night. My heart rejoices with these kinds of interactions between the girls because it proves that they enjoy each other, they choose to be together, and they will maintain those relationships throughout their lives even when they are married with families of their own.
Right now our boys who aren’t married and live at home are eighteen, twenty-one, and twenty-three. They are the same way as the girls are in their relationships although maybe they don’t talk quite as much, but that could be debatable. They exercise together. When there is a work project at our house, Nathan’s house, or Joseph’s house, they tackle it as a team for hours and hours. They have their offices in their bedroom so there is talk and communication that goes on throughout the day in addition to accomplishing their vocational work. Then somehow there are still words leftover for the nighttime talks that they have as well.
Not only do the girls have good relationships and the boys, but they also have great relationships with each other. From the main floor of our house, I can hear them practicing an hour or two each day in preparation for doing Christmas music at a local church and also at a community Christmas concert our family is having this month. They do kitchen cleanup together after each meal with much talking as they work. They love to sit in the living room before and after family Bible time—talking! They encourage each other. They challenge each other. They help each other. They pray for each other. They laugh with each other. They weep with each other.
Are they perfect in their relationships? No. There are times when one hurts or offends another. When that happens, though, there is a desire for restoration so they ask forgiveness of each other. There are times when they have different opinions that spark lively discussions. Those discussions can move into what can seem like an attack on one person. Sometimes, they are selfish. However, when those situations occur, they don’t want them to continue. They move toward dealing with the problem. Do you know that blesses my heart almost as much as seeing the positive side of their interactions? That is because it shows me that they don’t want to hurt, offend, or be selfish when interacting with one of their siblings. It grows out of a heart of love. They are learning how to deal with the problems that will surface in a marriage relationship and when they are parents.
I am so grateful to the Lord for the relationships He has allowed and built between our children. I know that there are things He led Steve and I to do when the children were younger that has had a positive outcome on those relationships. “Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore” (Psalm 133:1-3).
Regularly, when I talk to a mom, she either bemoans the fact that her children share a bedroom or she’s excited that they are moving to a home where each child will have his own space. The Lord showed us as our family grew the benefits of our girls sharing a room and our boys sharing a room. Room-sharing helped the children develop hearts of love toward each other rather than the selfish focus that generally comes when a child has his own room.
As the boys share a bedroom and the girls share another one, they have the ability to talk with each other when they are going to sleep at night and when they are waking up.