Monday, December 14, 2015

The Nature of Exclusion

          -photo compliments of Jeff Kirlin

Exclusion is a terrible thing to experience.  I have lived it from the time I was a kid and Billy and his brother next door were yelling  at me, "You're too fat. You can't come up to the tree house.  You'll break it." Or later being told I cannot enter a store because I have two babies in a carriage.  And when I tried to enter with the babies in my arms; they barred the door with a hefty bouncer type guy.  I was floored.  Both hurt.  I realize my ache is no comparison to those who are excluded from buses, lunch counters or countries who represent freedom and much more than a new lease on life.  My little post is not to magnify my feelings of exclusion, while minimizing others' plight. However, I must raise awareness and recognize those initial pangs of hurt.  Perhaps my account will help you to reach out to some family in a similar situation, while developing empathy for all those who face some degree of exclusion by remembering mine.

When my husband and I learned that we were having twins, I wondered how we would all fit in our brand new car.  We couldn't.  Along with joy, there were plenty of logistics about how to get two infants, a toddler and a five year old from place to place.  Going to the lake, by myself with the kids for a few hours caused me to re-play the scene over and over in my head.  Rehearsing each step for a gentle and safe transition.  One thing we hadn't bargained for with a big family then and now (we have eight kids and now spouses and significant others, so we ARE bigger) is the fact that we were no longer invited to socialize with friends with or without the children. I understand; our numbers can be overwhelming for some. Early on, this was a lonely place; connections are important to any family.   We have adjusted.  Through 34 years of actively mothering there have been a few exceptions of which I am grateful.  

For more than 35 years, Jerry's cousin Barbara Jane and her husband Ken have hosted a family Open House to celebrate the holidays.  We have missed only one year through all those births, adoptions and Keene marriages.  36 years ago, Jerry and I met at this gathering. It holds significance to us as a couple, as a family and as an extended family which includes all the aunts and uncles originating from a family of 10 children. The Keenes do it BIG.   

As we push through their yellow farmhouse door this Sunday with our contribution of food in our arms, we will pause and give thanks for being part of a big, big family. Maybe, just maybe you might want to consider inviting a big family to your holiday table or to your table after the holidays.  Invites for them too might be few and far between.  

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