Saturday, December 27, 2008

The most wonderful time of the year...

Relatively speaking, four children is not a lot. It is however, just enough past the status quo to make revealing our family size feel a bit like a badge of honor. It is typically met with some type of exclamation and a look that runs the gamut between admiring and incredulous. It's the same look I give people when they tell me they are training for a marathon. Two parts awe, one part "Are you insane?"

Having four children was a calculated decision. Well the second two were calculated, the first two came before we calculated anything. But at some point we did decide that four was the right number of children for our family. We realized with just the older two we would be empty nesters at forty and we like even numbers. Six people at the kitchen table. Busy schedules. Loud family outings and game nights. And eventually, we hoped, a slew of grandchildren. But, as is usually the case, the idea was much easier than the reality.

Four children is hard. It has not come easily for me. I have a friend who does it with ease and grace, who gives real meaning to the phrase "joy in chaos" but the reality in our house is that I am more often short tempered and overwhelmed than joyful. Which is not to say that I am not madly in love with all of my children. Individually they each own a piece of my heart that seems far bigger than the whole. But the collective responsibilities of giving them the time and structure they need pretty much kicks my butt.

And Christmas? Preparations for Christmas for a family of six definitely falls in the kick my butt category. Times ten. And a part of me believes that we have taken something beautiful and life changing and perverted it into a season of stress and excess in our need to create some kind of magic in our lives. We do our best to share with our children the miracle of the first Christmas. Of Christ incarnate in a tiny child. Of the first step in a plan that gave us direct access to the King of Kings.

But, if I am being honest, another part of me has bought wholeheartedly into the dream of modern Christmastime magic. Like everyone I know, I love Christmas morning. I purchase too much despite resolutions to keep it simple, and sleep fitfully the night before. Because, oh, if it isn't a heckuvalot of fun to have four kids on Christmas morning. Suddenly, for a little while, the dream I had for a large *happy* chaotic family is a reality. The laughter, the mess, the noise is all multiplied and our home becomes a three-ring-circus defying my ability to take it all in at once. Picture taking takes a backseat to exclaiming with the older kids and assisting the younger ones. And then, once the opening and celebrating with extended family is over we settle into the week that follows.

The week that I refer to as "the most wonderful time of the year." Schedules are clear and - most importantly, I think - The Man is home. Bickering seems less in the light of new toys to share. And I get to be, temporarily, the mom I thought I would be. Saying yes, more often than no. Staying in PJs til noon or later. Playing with my kids in lui of cleaning house or running errands. Family outings are planned. Boardgames are dusted off. And blogging commences while snuggled on the sofa with my sweetie because of my brand new laptop.

(OK, that's just this year, because did I mention I got a new laptop? I am beside myself with hi-tech glee!)

I know that in a week things will be back to normal. And I pray, as I always pray, that I will find more balance, more patience, more organization. But for now, I am thankful I have this reprieve. This time called Christmas.

And now, I must go. The Man has laid down a game of Blokus and a challenge and I need to go kick some board game butt.


Kyla said...

It is my favorite time, too. Everything is done and all that is left is the enjoyment.

Christine said...

the clear schedules are THE best this time of year, though i desperatly fear post new year's and back to the regular routine!

InTheFastLane said...

I am torn. I love being home and have the schedules clear, but the chaos wears on me. I love my life and my kids, but I am not so good with the craziness.

pinkmommy said...

Beautiful post. It is a magical time, isn't it?

Lisa writes... said...

Oh, girl, I hope the most wonderful time of the year is just that for you and your brood! We just returned from a visit at my parents' and now my week is chock full of basketball--what happened to sitting on the sofa gorging on chocolate and books?

Becoming Me said...

I am one who is in awe of someone who has three or more children...I honestly think 4+ is a calling! :-)

Megan@SortaCrunchy said...

I'm the oldest of four and I grew up thinking my parents were INSANE for having four kids. I was so jealous of the neat and tidy lives of my friends from families of four (total). They never had to wait for tables at restaurants! As a mother, I can see the balance and beauty of four. Don't know that we ourselves will make it there, but I appreciate my parents more than ever.

And I TOTALLY agree about the week following Christmas. Best time of the year, to be sure!!

thirtysomething said...

Oh, I love it too. The loudness, the glee, the excitement of the "best" morning of the year! (according to the kid-year anyway)
I can so relate with you, when it comes to the four kids.
This week, the week after the big day has its own specialness - found nowhere else within the 365 days of the year.
Happiest of New Year wishes to you and your brood, Joy!

Lori said...

It IS wonderful! I'm so glad you are finally to your place of calm when you can truly enjoy all of the togetherness (aka chaos). :)

We are stuck on the Other Side of the Mountains- the Pass we need to cross is closed. Hello, Mother Nature, we've had enough snow now, thanks.