The first time I was laid off we were terrified. We had very little savings, it was a down economy, and we had three children. We were not only freaking out about a lack of money and no prospect for more, but our car was barely holding on for its life and my brother died. It seemed like everything was conspiring against us and we were barely holding on.
After four unemployed months I finally took a job – but it was not the job I wanted.
Yet on this particular day, less than a week after I took the first job, I accepted an offer of another job and had to call the first to let them know I wouldn’t be back in. That was a tough call to make. I hated doing it, but for the sake of our family and my sanity it had to be done.
When I pushed the end button on the cell phone, I felt happy and guilty. Happy because we were starting a new phase of life and guilty because I used my cell phone in the hospital. Not only was this the day that I accepted a new job, but only a few short hours after this phone call our fourth child, Tessa, was born.
Our first three children were relatively calm. But Tessa was, well… quite the opposite. She came out screaming on that epic day and she didn’t stop for two years.
Kelly did everything she could to take care of Tessa at night so I could get a good night’s sleep and do well at my new job. But every now and then she just couldn’t take it any more and she would ask me to hold our new baby in the middle of the night. I would walk in, pick up her screaming body and sit in the rocking chair only half awake, praying that she would calm and go to sleep.
Add up everything that happened during this period of time (including also working a part-time job, an earthquake and the tragedy of 9/11 only five months later), and it goes down in Jones history as one of the most difficult.
Did we have stress? Absolutely – a lot of it. Did we wish we were in different circumstances? Without a doubt. Would we want to repeat those experiences? Heavens no.
But were we happy? You bet.
We were healthy and had four wonderful children. We were surrounded by family and friends who actively loved us. We had opportunities to love and serve others. We would bounce on the trampoline with the kids, swing on park swings, and make up games to play in the long hall in our little house.
Since then life has not been easy. We struggle with new experiences as the children get older and taken on new experiences and new personalities. But one thing is consistent: Our family is the center of our happiness.
There isn’t anything better than watching our family grow, learn, and love; watching them make mistakes, learn, and then teach their siblings the better way. The older ones now come and go on new adventures while the little ones are still investigating the world and collecting bumps and bruises.
Many things could take our time as parents. We will work for companies or volunteer with different groups. We may have hobbies or feel entitled to detox time. Those experiences will start and stop and nothing is as worthy of that time as the family.
Being a parent is eternal. The family is eternal. And within this family we will find unmatched happiness and joy.