Saturday, December 22, 2012

God to Earth: 4 kids per bedroom a Good Thing

photo from
Today's first reading in the Office of Readings, from Isaiah, contains lines that were enormously consoling to me years ago when I was expecting my fourth child. We were living in a smallish 3 bedroom ranch in California--no attic, no basement, and a one car garage that held all the things one would normally store in an attic or a  basement.

Although I laugh now to think about it, I was at the time in a minor panic over how I would house the next child were it to be a girl. My two older daughters were in one small bedroom, and our son in the other. A certain relative hinted that putting three children in one bedroom simply is Not Done, nor does one ever, ever, let children of opposite sexes share a room, even if one is a preschooler and the other a newborn.  I was still young and silly enough to care about keeping  this person's good opinion, even though it had already  been lost years before when I had the bad taste to become  pregnant on my honeymoon.

Sure enough, I had another girl. Little Maryanne had no idea how unhappy she was supposed to be, sharing a 10x11  room with two adoring sisters who were in fierce competition to see who could make her smile often. When she was 5 weeks old I picked up the breviary and read this December 22nd  passage from Isaiah:

Though you were waste and desolate,
   a land of ruins,
Now you shall be too small for your inhabitants,
   while those who swallowed you up will be far away.
The children whom you had lost
   shall yet say to you,
“This place is too small for me,
   make room for me to live in.”

And guess what? This was not a prediction of woe for Israel, but a promise of hope and blessing!

In other words, God used my predicament --a predicament I would have at regular intervals for the next 20 years--as an illustration of a good, highly to be envied  situation.  And the people of Israel, uncorrupted by  articles in Parents Magazine about the pitfalls of siblings sharing a room, understood this.  

 Isaiah helped me to realize that my problem was a pretty good one to have. 


  1. Oh I love that verse! Thank you for sharing.

    I'm so glad no one is looking over my shoulder telling me "it's not done". We've got three adults and four kids in a three-bedroom house. The three oldest kids are in one room, two girls and a boy. The baby is in with us. My sister has her own (tiny) room.

    I actually think it's a great thing for kids to share a room. I've witnessed great acts of kindness and generosity that arise therefrom. Of course there are times when it is incredibly frustrating for all concerned and the kids can be selfish as kids are. But they are also learning that the world doesn't revolve around them.

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  3. If you have children you may be surprised at some of the new furniture designs created especially for children. Among these fun and imaginative creations you will find the full over full bunk beds with desk. The slide is incorporated into the design of the frame along with the traditional ladder.

  4. Thank you for this. We have ten kids in a four bedroom house. Thank goodness for the walk in closet/nursery :-). Our next will put four in one room, starting to look like barracks, but it is so much fun.

  5. We have a 9-year-old boy, a 4-year-old girl, a 2-year-old girl and a baby "on the way". Recently we gave our son his own room, and now both he and the girls beg almost daily for us to let him sleep in their room (they have an open top bunk). Kids know that it's fun to be with each other! It's weird for popular culture to suggest that every person should have a separate room.

  6. Thank you for posting this particular passage from Isaiah.
    We are an adoptive/ foster family and as such have had the heart-rending experience of growing bigger by twos and threes and then suddenly having little ones leave us, "desolate"; this passage was given to us at least twice during the past year as comfort from God (I think seeing it on your post counts as the third proclamation). Especially at Christmas, we look eagerly to the return in spirit or in flesh of "the children whom you had lost" so that they may yet say, "make room for me, the place is too small." In addition to the personal comfort it affords, it is also is a passage that continually reminds me of the cry of the unborn who speak to us from the womb, pleading that we may also make room for them in the stable of our hearts.

    blessings to all at Christmastide,
    Susan M.