Aaron and Saionna Redfearn have won the parenting lottery more than once in their 13-year marriage.
The Charlotte couple have twins, age 7, and triplets, age 11. Saionna’s 22-year-old son, Malik, also shares their two-bedroom apartment, while attending Central Piedmont Community College.
Crowded? Hectic? Lines at the bathroom?
Yes, yes, and yes, says Saionna. But the tougher challenge is the simple multiplication that must be applied to birthdays and holidays, when the Redfearns’ finances are stretched to the limit.
This year, the family needed help, so Saionna signed up all five children for the Salvation Army’s Christmas Center. The center gives free Christmas toys to struggling families, paid for in part with money donated by Observer readers to the Empty Stocking Fund.
Saionna says she was so determined to get toys for her kids this year that she showed up at 3:30 a.m. on the first day of registration – with a lawn chair. That’s six and a half hours early. “I was the only one there for about three hours,” she says.
In all, local parents registered 12,200 children to get toys this year from the Christmas Center, which is considered one of the largest holiday programs in the Southeast. Registration ended Nov. 8.
“I tried thinking of other ways to get gifts. I even considered tricking my kids about what day Christmas was on, so I could go out and buy toys the day after, when everything was on sale,” says Saionna, who is 39.
She’s currently the family breadwinner, spending her sixth year on the third shift at a department store.
That makes Aaron, 38, the family homemaker who cooks, cleans, picks up the kids after school and volunteers as a youth football coach. He was laid off from his job as a machine operator when the economy soured and has decided to attend barber school.
“He treats me like a queen,” says Saionna, calling Aaron the “perfect” husband. “But sometimes I do get mad at what he did to me. It’s his side of the family that has all the twins. He didn’t warn me about his family tree.”
Aaron admits he’s frustrated at not being able to find a job, mostly because of the strain it puts on his wife. But on those occasions when he feels like giving up, Saionna always find a way to rally the family. He feels blessed.
“My wife is driven. I’ve never seen anything like it,” Aaron says. “Whatever she sets her mind on, she goes after it, continuously.”
They have a long list of dreams, including a house with an extra bathroom.
But the most important goal, he says, is for all six of their children to graduate from college – even if that means they have to share a two-bedroom apartment for the next 20 years.
Until then, Aaron says, they’ll take pleasure in the simple things.
Such as the sound of five boys and one girl laughing and screaming as they rip open presents from Santa.
It will be crowded and hectic, but also perfect in that way Christmas morning always manages to be, no matter how little money you have.
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