Please bear with me to the end (before judging me!) :)
My husband and I are empty-nesters, and love it. We are also parents to six awesome adult children and a growing number of loveable grandchildren, and live on a lake in Minnesota… so we have a lot of “visitors”, especially in summer.
Our house can go from sixty decibels to double that in a moment’s notice on many weekends. Sometimes the house feels like it’s pulsating with a heartbeat of its own… the grandchildren, TV, grown-ups trying to be heard above it all, barking dogs… and a lot of laughter. And sometimes it can get a little crazy.
The cleaning, food prep, laundry, before/during/after is daunting (and yes, they are all great about helping out!) and I think it's the switch from easy to hectic that gets me every time. I know, it sounds like I'm complaining--and I'm not, because I know that every single piece of effort I just mentioned is worth it. I know that.
But sometimes, when I’m escaping out the door for a quick trip up town for more milk and bread, my feet crunching on dropped cereal on the floor, and scouring the cluttered-with-everything-under-the-sun counter for my car keys, while gingerly handing over a sleeping baby and maneuvering around a sword fight between grand-kids, I find myself breathing a calming sigh of relief in the peace of my car as I head to town.
On the short trip, I appreciate the quiet, already looking forward to crawling into bed that night, even though it might only be 10 a.m. And just as I start to question my sanity, I drive by homes in our small town where I know for a fact, people are sitting inside… all alone. And wishing they had a little chaos and company to fill their lonely days.
And I remember. I think back to years ago when I felt lonely—in a house too-quiet and too-clean. Never again do I want that daily solitude, I remind myself, never again.
I also think of the main character in the book I've written. I made the poor woman so lonely! I killed off all her friends while dragging her through an empty nest and divorce. (Mean of me, I know!) SHE would have loved to be a guest in our chaotic house, reveling in the noise and clutter.
So, give me cereal crunching under my toes, chocolate hand-prints on the windows, endless laundry and total exhaustion. It reminds me I've been blessed with people I care about and am lucky enough to have in my life. Nobody sang it better than Barbra Streisand ~ "People who need people are the luckiest people in the world."
For this upcoming holiday season, my wish for you is this: A little chaos with your cranberries, and maybe a fallen piece of pumpkin pie squished between your toes.
Then I’ll know you've been truly blessed!