were different in any case, so that we couldn't do all that the others did even had we wanted to. Some liked oral sex, some didn't. Some liked long periods of intimacy, some short. Some preferred lots of foreplay, others liked to get right down to the final act. We learned to appreciate our differences and rested in the knowledge that Stan enjoyed us for what we were and didn't have any expectations.
There is nothing worse for a polygamous wife to believe that another sister-wife is a better lover than she is because she can't do something she thinks her husband likes, or doesn't like it herself. We simply accepted that we were all different and that Stan loved us all the same. There were certain things we weren't allowed to do because Stan considered them impure and not honouring to the Lord. One or two of us, who had been exposed to some of the impure sexual practices of the world from before we came into the marriage were quickly corrected. He usually told a new wife what was allowed and what wasn't by the time the honeymoon was at an end. There weren't many restrictions but those that existed we had to obey.
Those of us who didn't have children found ourselves quite spontaneously "adopting" the children of the other wives. Whilst each wife was the undisputed mother of her own children, we were expected to treat all the children as if they were our own. This was, indeed, a part of our marriage vows. Every wife knew that if she ever became incapacitated, temporarily or permanently, or if she would have to go away for any reason, that there was always someone who would take care of her children and love them as her own in her absence. The children themselves , by virtue of constant exposure to so many women, naturally gravitated to the ones they liked the best. Kryztina, therefore, always seemed to be surrounded by them, because of her natural motherly disposition and ability ro relate to the smaller ones. The older children tended to be attracted to the younger wives, especially those who did not have such a great age gap with them, because they felt they could be better understood. Suszana's eldest were always around Kasia and I because we had not so long since been teenagers like them.
Having other children to take care of both as a duty and as a voluntary consideration helped those of us who were childless a lot because we felt that our motherhood instincts were not going to pasture. As I result, we did not mourn our barrenness as we might otherwise have done had we been monogamously married. Just being able to love as a mother was a great freedom though of course we also desired to know the intimacy of pregnancy, breast-feeding and sleeping with them.
Sometimes, if a mother was really exhausted or ill, her children would come and sleep with us and that was wonderful. We naturally spoiled them and they lapped it up without complaint. Even Stan would take a child from time-to-time if he felt that he as a father was needed the most. With so many women about the house, exposing the children to Stan was very important and inspite of his busy schedule, he always made time for them, particularly on the Sabbath.
One winter's day I found him marching around the living room to martial music with a great convoy of children from two years old to ten on tricycles and various push-vehicles carrying flags and all sorts of other things following him. He had set up bridges made of sheets draped over arm chairs through which they had to pass on their circuit. They were laughing and chattering their little heads off throughly enjoying themselves and were completely oblivious to my presence, so absorbed had they become in their father and his game. Children would accompany him outside doing various gardening chores and tending to the hens. When Stan was thus occupied with some of the little ones this gave us wives time to get down to important planning meetings together without distraction.
Not only did my habits, ways and mannerisms gradually change over the first two years but even my accent. Although I had Sarah-Jane to reinforce me she also was coming under the sway of the European English which everybody spoke. Some of the Poles like Anna and Kryztina had thick Polish accents and seemed immune to the dialect around them, as did Kryztina's children, but the rest spoke perfect BBC English which I at first found quite embarrassing because it was so polished and refined compared to my own accent. Stan's English was impeccable and he might have passed himself off for an Englishman were it not for the fact that the English he spoke was in our time only spoken by an élite minority. Even his German was different and caused some raised eyebrows in Germany, especially in Saxony where the dialect is notoriously thick. There was a small Masurisches Bund, or Masurian League, who called upon him to make historical and cultural speeches both amongst the few surviving exiles in Germany and in the Masurian lake district of Poland which he always enjoyed. The children had many kinds of English accent, making for a colourful mix. Stan did not resent our American accents by any means.
Children had a high status in Raj for they were regarded by Stan as the flagbearers of the millennial Kingdom, experienced and trained in Kingdom living. He accepted that some would probably go their own way, and maybe even be absorbed back into the world, but he was optimistic that they would be few and prayed that the Lord would spare all of them.
Though he was keen that they should obtain as much knowledgeable as they possibly could, he was more interested in their being able to think for themselves and to work cooperatively together with others. All had their duties and responsibilities, even if it was only to sweep half a dozen steps once a week.
I remember once coming to Stan's shower to find three small children in there with him in their plastic tub. I hadn't expected that. He often did this if a wife had a newborn child, was ill, or was otherwise indisposed, whether or not other sister-wives were capable of helping as he knew everyone was busy. They would usually be singing some English or Polish nursery rhyme or Christian song. There was no doubt that he loved their company and they his. One song he had written himself was called Prosze mi umyc wlosy ("I Want a Shampoo") designed to overcome the fear of some children getting shampoo in their eyes!
Stan would teach some of the older children lessons during their home schooling which they invariably found very interesting. When at home, he would usually take at least an hour's worth a day. Between us there was enough experience and knowledge to teach them all they needed for the curriculum required by the state. Government inspectors visited once every six months to test them to make sure they were conforming to standards, and they were required to sit state exams.
There were amongst us a number of quite talented artists and musicians. Suszana was our pianist, Kasia played the flute, and Sarah-Jane the violin. Isabel was a good artist with Stan and Kasia quite accomplished sketchers.
The children all loved drawing. One day I found two of the boys in Stan's office sitting with him at the large table in the middle of the room and to my surprise all were drawing military aircraft. Stanislaw, Jr. and Tytus, Kryuztina's eldest, who were seven and fire years old, respectively, had produced an astonishingly accurate line drawing of a Word War II Polish "PZL P37 LOS B bomber", as Stanislaw correctly identified it
"How do they manage that?" I asked, amazed.
"You'd be surprised what the little ones can do if only they're given encouragement and can see your own enthusiasm;" Stan said. "They're at one of their most creative periods when they're about four to eight and I encourage them as much as I can."
Tytus showed me the dozen or so drawings he had made that morning. They were a little imprecise at some places but still astonishing for his age. What amazed me even more was that he was already learning to draw in three dimensions.
"Stanislaw, Jr. has got an amazing eye for detail. Look at this one," said Stan.
He showed me a map of a ficticious island that Isabel's son had drawn covered in roads, railways, towns, harbours, a compass and scale, and even a crest of arms.
"Wait here!" said Stanislaw, Jr. to me and ran off. Five minutes later he returned short of breath as he had been all the way up to his mother's apartment and back. He was clutching a green shoe box under his arm which he put down on the table and carefully removed the lid. Inside was an envellope stuffed with postage stamps which he enthusiastically showed me.
"Father and I made these," he said proudly. They almost looked like the real thing, including perforations which Stanislaw had meticulously cut out with a pair of scissors - what patience that must have taken.
"Did you draw all of these?" I asked, astonished.
"Father drew most of them, I coloured them in."
He showed them one by one. A Polish King in full regalia, a picture of Christ, and one cute one with all the youngest children in the family on. Once he had finished showing them to me, he carefully put them back into the envellope, and started shuffling around in the box. Out came a precious rock collection, of stones he had found in the garden, by the River Danube when he and his mother had lived in Bratislava, and on their holidays at Sopot by the Gulf of Gdansk. He explained what each kind of stone was while his father watched in wrapt attention, obviously proud of his son. Once he was through, the box was packed away, and he was off again back to his room.
Stan chuckled: "Do you see the enthusiasm? Learning can be such a joyful experience for them. Stanislaw, Jr. is into all sorts of things. Tytus spends half his day drawing, mostly aircraft, trains and people. He knows far more than I do about trains," and threw his head back laughing. "I learn from them all the time! They get interested in something new and I must find out more to help them understand."
There was no dout that Stan took his rôle as a father most seriously. He told me about some of his other children, their likes and dislikes, their hopes and fears. Alexei wandered in, quite without permission, because he had run away from Kasia.
"What are you doing here, young man?" asked Stan sternly, looking the little urchin in the face.
"Samochód2, samochód!" he cried out: "wóz3, wóz!" and Stan laughed, taking out a fresh piece of paper and quickly sketching him a car.
"Run along with you now!" smiled Stan, and Alexei hurried off clutching the piece of paper with a very chuffed look on his face, crying out: "Mamma! Mamma! Pappa has drawn me a car!"
"Do they always run in like this?" I wondered.
"Oh no, otherwise my office would become a circus. But Alexei has wander-lust and is always running away from his mother."
I pitied Kasia who had quite a handful with this little boy, who was every bit as tempremental as she was. Alexei was always getting into trouble and upsetting a lot of people. He did nothing by half and you were never in any doubt as to what his opinion of a matter was. Kasia had originally wanted seven children but her wish-list had rapidly shortened after Alexei was born into the world.
"You've got seven-in-one there!" Stan had once joked. And though at first she had insisted she could manage more children, the high energy demands of her racing "vóz" ("car") had made her realise that she had more than enough on her hands. She and Stan were still open for another one, though if the whole truth be known, they were often mercifully relieved when no more came!
The stories of Stan's children would occupy a book in themselves. I got to know Suszana's teenage children quite well. I often wondered if his eldest daughter, Maria, might be a little jealous of us younger wives because of the attention her father gave us, but if she was she never betrayed it. She was a very private, introvert type, not given to much conversation, though she sat through most of our evening Bible classes in the background and often hovered around the adults listening to their convertsation. She was a Believer but not committed to our way of life. She gravitated mostly to Kryztina and Kasia whereas her elder brother, Wladyslaw, was more around Isabel.
Wladyslaw was now studying medicine and took the bus into town to the Medical Institute every morning. He returned home by car with whoever it was whose turn it was to go to the Post Office that day. The smaller children adored him and were around him like flies the moment he got into the door. With so much studying to do, though, he was forced to escape to his room and lock himself in. Otherwise he would be in constant demand. In his spare time, when he could get away from his siblings, he would either be outside or inside helping his father around the house which required much maintenance.
Wladyslaw would soon be a man and his influence as Stan's successor was already being felt in subtle ways. He sensed his responsibility and was not slow on the uptake, lending a hand whenever he could to relieve his step-mothers of their children or in other chores when he had the time. Unlike Maria whose eyes were definitely on the outside world and on leaving Raj, Wladislaw clearly sensed his patriarchal call. When Stan died, he would become de facto head of the family to whom the rest of us would look for protection and support. His other brothers were too young to possibly understand the import of their responsibilities yet but would, we hoped, rally around Wladislaw to help him in what would be a tough assignment.
Stan was naturally concerned what would happen to us when he was gone. Because of our belief in eternal marriage and the fact that we were already such an integrated family, it was taken for granted that we would remain together and jointly help the children to maturity. None had wanted marriage contracts that lasted only for this life's duration but if they had had such, they would have been entitled to go and marry again according to the Torah. Though Wladyslaw would automatically, together with his brothers - our sons - as they grew up, have responsibility to take care of us, we knew that we had the option of asking for the protection of another patriarchal family if that was our wish. Another patriarch could enter into a covenant to protect and support us, not as a husband but as a guardian. The official designation was a "Protector". This was what Yah'shua had done when he had assigned His mother to the care of the Apostle John, but no doubt her sons also had some sort of rôle as protectors also, as well as the entire Ephesian congregation. It would ultimately depend what Wladyslaw was capable of and whether he remained in the Covenent. We would not impose upon him even though he clearly knew what his duty would be. We were economically self-sufficient but in older years we might not be able to earn our daily bread any more. The ideal would be to attach ourselves to one of the Order's communities where we knew we would be taken care of. There were no uncared for widows in Zion. Above all, we would not separate - of that we were certain and resolutely determined. It was our sons' duty to look after us but we would do all we could to lessen their burdens.
The patriartchal system was therefore a great comfort to us in this respect. We knew, from what Stan had taught us, that the Welfare State was collapsing in many Western Countries and that by the time we were all old governments would not be able to take care of pensioners anymore. The thought of putting family members into old peoples' homes was thoroughly obnoxious to us and a vital part of the restoration work that we were all involved in was ensuring that the family was strong and cohesive for old and young alike. This life would not, in any case, last for long. We all realised its tenuousness. We knew that after Stam had gone our main mission would be taking care of the family and being witnesses for Christ. With these goals clearly in mind, getting into a community, and therefore leaving Raj, became an ever growing imperative.
Pronounced "vooz" as in the engine noise of a car
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Last updated on 5 March 2009
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