As a mother of four boys, two elderly cats and a newly
adopted 5-year-old Beagle with medical issues due to years of neglect, I knew that
this Christmas would be a juggling act. Add to that the numerous neighborhood
kids who congregate in my home on a daily basis all of whom I have grown to
love as my own but it adds to the sheer volume of human and animal bodies under
a pretty small roof. There are times I wonder if there’s enough air for all of
us jammed in this house! As a result, I have often become a breathless,
one-armed paper hanger frantically wrapping gifts behind my closed bedroom door
hoping to get it all done with a little time to sit back and breathe. Breathing
doesn’t happen a lot in this house but a lot of racing around does. Cooking,
cleaning, dealing with animals, doling out snacks to hungry kids, poopy diapers
(and sometimes poopy older kids…just sayin’), kids not getting along, its endless
insanity with little time to think and never sit down. I have not eaten lunch
sitting down in the 17 months since my youngest son was born. Add to that a son
with special needs who has more doctor appointments than an 85 year old…it’s a
Christmas Eve had arrived all too quickly this year as it always does and of course we had a doctor appointment earlier that afternoon for my son but I had finished all the wrapping for all four boys solo and was feeling accomplished. Meanwhile our newly adopted Beagle showed some very grave x-ray scans so I was juggling the baby on one hip while talking to the vet. She needed an echocardiogram…really?!?? More juggling, managing, scheduling and realizing that this is not what Christmas should be like. No, no, no.
Meanwhile I had sent two of my boys down to an elderly neighbor’s house to deliver something…they came back and said, “Mummy [elderly neighbor] is sitting there in her chair and we knocked and knocked and knocked but she’s asleep, we were so loud and were calling her name but she wouldn’t wake up, you can see her through the window.” Alarmed I left the boys with my husband, grabbed my coat and ran down to investigate afraid of what I might see but hoping to find my dear neighbor just taking a very deep cat nap and nothing more. Aha, yes, there she was, alive at her kitchen sink and wanted me to stay for a cup of coffee. “Oh neighbor,” as I collapsed into her kitchen chair, “I’m SO happy to see you right now, you have no idea.” Phew. No one wants to find a body on Christmas Eve afternoon. Seriously.
After a lovely visit with her, it was time to go as we were quickly marching onward to the Christmas Eve service at our church. Hubby was juggling baby walking in and out, and in and out, and in and out of the service that seemed to go on forever. Finally it was time for the candles, the boys cheered up, the tone changed in the church but yes, all that burning hot wax on your fingertips, hey you pay a price for beauty. It was a fitting end to what was feeling like an endless service for those of us with little ones. We got everyone home, tracked Santa on the computer, took photos of the boys hanging their stockings, read “The Night Before Christmas” then ushered them all off to bed. Now our work had just begun.
Once we were sure the boys were asleep, we dragged out all of the packages from my closet. As I realized (and hoped as the twins are now 12!) this is likely the last year they will believe in Santa, the dog was coughing up a lung in her dog bed and I had to stop and embrace the nuttiness that is my life. It won’t change, I just need to better adapt to it at times. It helped. Sure I need time to reflect, to ponder, pray and be still but time isn’t on my side these days so instead I must embrace what IS. Embrace the nuttiness, the constant interruptions, the continually ringing doorbell and kids coming and going as before I know it the house will be pretty quiet and I think I’ll miss the sheer bedlam that I’m living right now. Embrace it, embrace it, embrace it was my mantra that night. They won’t be this age again, enjoy what we can. My spirit lifted!
Christmas morning arrived very early and it was joyous for the boys. The dog received good news that her health wasn’t as grim as the vet had first thought, she would survive and some heavy duty meds would help with her lungs. Great! Meanwhile my third son came to me and said, “Um, Mum, the dog is eating chocolate.” WHATTT?!???? There went my “embrace it” mantra as I dropped everything and ran to her. There she was with one of the boys’ Christmas stockings at her side chomping away with foil spread all around her. I put her outside on our deck as I knew she might get sick and immediately called the vet, “Hi, yes, we’ve been at your office twice in the past two days, yeah well that same dog just ate a bunch of chocolate, please help me!” The vet proceeded to help me figure out just how much she ingested and what kind of chocolate and turns out she would survive but, “might have diarrhea for the next 24 hours.”
Bring it on. Embrace it! Apparently cats aren’t the only ones with nine lives. I got out the vacuum and started to clean up the mess while her sweet yet guilty face looked back at me through the deck door. As I stared down at the mangled, faceless, frankly scary chocolate Lindt teddy bear remains I thought, “This really sums it up but I’m embracing it” as it will make one heck of a funny story someday.