Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Extra Effort, Less Sleep, Lotta Chaos

You gotta love when a friend sends a text on Thursday afternoon asking what your plans are for Sunday, & not even two minutes deep into the conversation, between the two of you, you've come up with one crazy good game plan.

Ten kiddos.
Chili & cornbread.
Pumpkin carving.
Apple cider.
Six dozen sugar cookies.
Roasting pumpkin seeds.

Not a fall leaf left unturned.

I tend to go a little overboard, this I know about myself. Especially during the holidays. When I got that text from Michelle on Thursday afternoon with a bunch of great suggestions for Sunday, I couldn't help but respond, "Let's do it all!". 

I want to do it all, have it all, squeeze everything in & out of the holiday season that I possibly can. Sure, it means a little extra effort, a little less sleep & a whole lotta chaos, but not once have I ever looked back & said to myself, "Man, I really shouldn't have gone all out this time around. It totally wasn't worth it." 

So together, Michelle & myself, we went all out. 

And once was totally worth it.

The kids carved faced into pumpkins & squealed when the insides were pulled out. They slathered frosting across cookies & made the biggest mess you've ever seen with a sprinkle shaker. They covered their skin in Halloween stamps & slurped out of orange & purple straws. And us mommas, we barely even had a second to note all of our efforts--because ten kids & an afternoon of activity equals the inability to even hear yourself think.

But here's the kicker. Once the evening simmered down & sugar highs slowly settled, the sweetest thing began to take place. There we all sat, around a smoldering pan of freshly roasted pumpkin seeds, nibbling away while the boys begged for me to tell them stories from the eight years I had nannied for them. One after another, their faces lit up the room as they exclaimed, "Now tell one about me!" "Now tell a good one!" 

And so, we spent the most precious time sharing memories--how the only time Ben ever got in trouble from me was when he hid a piece of licorice behind his back & lied about it. How Adam had to go commando when he was three, just after he had pooped his pants in the middle of a department store & the only thing I had in the car was an extra set of pants, no undies. How strangers always told me just exactly how much Liam looked like me & how I never had the heart to tell them he wasn't actually my {flesh & blood} baby. How Jakey got us kicked out of Kindermusik because he was so wild in class.

The stories that evening, they flooded my heart. The time we spent, with Liam cradled in my lap the the rest of the boys sitting on the edges of their seats, anxiously waiting to laugh at the stories I rattled off the top of my head, it will be with me forever & ever. I won't ever forget that very precious time. I won't ever take for granted those eight years that I got to make memories with this sweet family. I won't take for granted the years that lie ahead, the ones where my family gets to grow up together with this one.

And I won't ever let anyone tell me that this memory making thing I do--albeit a little outrageous & over the top sometimes-- isn't worth the while. I don't do it to toot my own horn. I don't do it so I can snatch up some Mother Of The Year Award that doesn't even exist. I don't do it so I can broadcast to the world how great I think I am. I do it because childhood memories, they matter. All those kiddos around that table with eager eyes the other night, they confirmed that.

The beauty of this life is that if you're alive & breathing, then it's not too late. It's not too late to start building more memories. It's not too late to carve out time for the people you love & cherish. I love this family with so much of my heart. And when I walk away from a night like the other night, my heart is bursting at the seams, it's so full. But honestly, I don't spend enough time with them. I needed this particular evening to remind me that my presence in their life & theirs in mine, it matters in magnitudes I hadn't truly realized before.

One day, all of my kids {my flesh & blood ones & my honorary ones}  may very well sit & around a table & say, "Hey remember those crazy Fall get togethers you & Mom used to plan?" or "Remember our annual Christmas Cookie Decorating parties?" Or maybe they'll ask, with eager eyes, for me to tell them the many stories from when they were growing up. All I know, is that if/when they do, I don't want to be left empty-handed. I want to be able to rattle off the top of my head, a million more.

Even if it does require a little extra effort, a little less sleep & a whole lotta chaos.

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