When I was younger, it was always a dream of mine to have a home that everyone (especially teenagers) wants to come to. That home that is warm and friendly and has lots of food. That home where everyone sits at the table and plays games and you see someone throw back their head and laugh from sheer joy. That home that always has room for one more.
What I didn’t realize was the insane amount of work it takes to have a home like that! For example, keeping the fridge stocked is a major chore in our house. With six growing kids, it isn’t easy to keep food in the house, and then add to that feeding all the extra people. And then the grocery bill…whoa! So, rather than being that mom with a luxurious spread, I am usually that mom using portion control and counting all the heads as I brainstorm what I can make from all the leftovers in the fridge that might be edible and will be liked by children!
My daughter’s 10th birthday is coming up and for us 10 is a party year. I love the IDEA of being the home that has the party. But the REALITY of having a party is so much different than the idea. When you have six kids you can’t make every year a party. Six birthday parties a year is just too much for any parent to handle. Or at least it’s too much for THIS PARENT to handle!! So, next Friday we are having a 10 girl sleepover party and I already have a headache just trying to plan all the activities and what we will eat (and don’t forget that there are gluten-free kids so we have to plan for that too!) and how I am going to achieve all this with my husband who will be gone. I think he might have planned it this way 😉 But remember, it WAS my dream to have a home that everyone wants to come to.
Then, there is keeping up the house itself. I found out a house doesn’t just look and feel warm and friendly all on it’s own…
The beautiful lawn actually needs to be mowed and the bushes actually need trimming, and did you know that palm trees don’t just shed their branches by themselves? They actually need to be cut! And the pool…it doesn’t balance itself either. I found out that I NEED a pool guy. It isn’t just a convenience issue. I literally cannot balance a pool for the life of me. It is continually going green with algae because I put the wrong thing in, or the chemicals were too strong and then the kids couldn’t swim, or some other out of balance issue. And then there is that screen that the dog tore through that still needs fixing. Oh, and did I mention the little garden we have outside that is filling with weeds again because I never have the time to plant anything in it? And we haven’t even gotten to the inside of the house!
This year, we finally repainted the house! It looks a lot better than it did, the grey primer look is gone, but in the painting process, we realized that some of our trim areas have rotting wood and that is a whole other project to get fixed. So that went on the waiting list as well. Then there is the bathroom with the busted piping… that is top on the list because of the mold issue the wetness presents. There is the wood pieces of flooring that need to be fixed, the hallway ceiling that needs to be finished from a previous leak we had, and, well, I need to stop or I am going to make myself depressed…
Back to my original point…the warm and cozy house doesn’t just happen. Then, that whole scene at the table playing games with each other…Well, from my experience, by the time we get to the place to be THAT family, after all the work of cleaning the house and cooking and whatever various jobs of the day might have been, I am so utterly exhausted that all I can do is sit down on the couch and watch everybody play, maybe if I can muster up the energy, folding a load of laundry while I watch. It is once in a blue moon that I can find the strength and desire to be the person at the table playing the games.
All that being said, as my dream turns into a soggy reality of what life really is, and I come to grips with the fact that I can’t have a picturesque life from the movies, or be like that “perfect” mom whose house I visited recently (who by the way probably isn’t as perfect as I perceived her to be, and probably has her own to do list and stress and problems that I just wasn’t aware of)…
What triggered all this pondering, you say? Well, I woke up this morning at 5:30 because my 8 month old decided she was hungry, and after that I couldn’t sleep…so I walked out to the living room and my heart melted as I was met with the scene of my 4 year old and 10 year old sprawled out on the couch, sleeping peacefully after cuddling together last night. As I walked around the house, I realized there were eight sleeping children (+2 from sleepovers) I counted. Ten people in a peaceful house, sleeping, after a night of pizza and games the night before. And then it hit me. I have the home I have always dreamed of, full of love and life, and if I am honest, sometimes strife…but mostly happiness.
The fridge may not always be full, the lawn may not often get mowed, the house may not be in perfect condition, and I may be half-functioning because of how tired I am, but my home is still the home of my dreams…filled with people who love each other and love me. I wouldn’t trade this life for anything.
So, my advice to you dear reader, is treasure the moment in front of you. It may not be perfect or exactly what you dreamed it would be, but it is a moment, and it will soon be gone. Look for the dream in the midst of the soggy realities of life, and don’t lose sight of what you are really living for.