Back-to-School: Enjoying the Mess

The house is full again. The oldest came home from her summer in New York, and the younger two returned from a month away at camp. For the next eight days, the six of us are living together under one roof. My heart feels full, and yet, I know I can't fully attach to this feeling, because it's only temporary. And with my oldest heading into her senior year of college (with hopes of moving out of state after graduation), I don't know that we will all be "living" together again. But that makes me sad, so I try not to go there (even though I just did). 

I love my kids; I love this family. I'm so grateful every day for this life--even the messiness of it all: My laundry room is currently covered with a fresh coat of sand from all the dirty camp clothes and gear that was deposited there yesterday (much of which still needs to be washed, folded, and put away). 

I love that our family dinners are loud and usually involve a good amount of intense arguing, the subject matter for the infighting ranges from politics to a sideways glance between siblings. Either can escalate into unreasonably high levels of intensity, gaining momentum as more members chime in. And they also love to call me on my sh*t! And even though I sometimes feel like I'm being attacked by a pack of rabid dogs as they join forces to make certain I understand the message: Mom, you are totally bragging about being on TV, what the heck?! Yeah, Mom, not cool at all! Just don't do that! And so on...

Okay, troops. I got it. Humility. Yes. Humility. Thank you.

They pick, poke, and prod each other, the older ones claiming that they need to toughen up the younger ones. Sometimes, their tactics work; other times, their unpolished methods backfire and produce very unfavorable outcomes (including yelling, stomping away from the dinner table, and lots of tears). 

But then there are the surprises--like when last night at dinner one of the older kids unveiled "the most important piece of advice for s tarting high school" to our soon-to-be high school freshman. We all braced for a good joke.

The advice was about friendship, about treating people with kindness and respect, and the importance of values. It was deep, thoughtful, and sincere. It was not a joke.

My husband and I just stared at each other, speechless. Our #3 took it in, as did our #4. 

After dinner, my girls, almost 22 and 12, curled up on the couch and watched Cupcake Wars, giggling and hugging like sisters do. Secrets passed between them--secrets that will not be revealed to Mom. And I felt grateful.

Within all the messiness that is involved in this family of six passionate, opinionated, firey personalities, a crazy amount of love exists. And within that love, there is continual learning and growing for all of us. Our time together is much of an exception than a norm, so Back-to-School is loaded with all sorts of emotions for me, and for all of us. But in allowing myself to embrace these treasured times--when our family unit of six is messily held together under one roof--both the joyful and the difficult moments feel like gifts.

Nothing can stay the same. We are evolving, changing, growing, and moving. Treasure the moment. Treasure your family. And treasure the changing of the tides; they can't be stopped--nor would we really want them to be.