Cereal. It hits the spot. Something I rarely have in my own home, because no one eats it. But, during those ten days, it was there for me each night like a good friend to confide in.
The week started with it's share of challenges. I wasn't mom, so one little boy in particular took it upon himself to test boundaries and find out what shenanigans he could get away with. They all did, in their own way. And Truman, wet with drool (from the four teeth he was cutting) and his toddler counterpart, potty training, competed daily for the role as baby of the house.
The first day included over-excitement and tears, fighting each other and fighting for my attention, a spill that stained the carpet, stubbed toes and what seemed like 100 little bags of open chips, and hungry little people all day long.
That first night Don had school and I was left to carry out evening and bedtime customs. I was already exhausted as I acclimated to the new routine, and 4 extra children.
As night fell and laborious duties of showers n' baths and pajamas were checked off the list, it was time for bed. At first, putting them to bed was just a continuation of the daunting tasks that preceded this culminating evening event. But, as the high energy began to settle, following an endless trek of drinks and trips to the bathroom, I finally stopped coaxing them to hush their mouths and stay in bed. Instead, I pushed the comfortable thought of that sugar-filled bowl (that awaited me down stairs) out of my mind. And started embracing the moment.
We read books, told stories and sang songs as I softly caressed their feet and hands. Peace began to set in. And joy crept in. I started falling in love with these little monkeys. Eventually, the last little set of eyes drifted off to sleep.
We played. And played and played. I got to know them. Lines were drawn and reinforcements were set. Picnics at the park, play dates with friends, crafts, games, BBQ's, Chuckie-cheese with Gpa Bob. We even made it to Sea World. I was so proud of us! We did it, without too many tears or melt-downs.
Things got better after that first night. Much better. I welcomed this new experience as a family of seven. And while the work never stopped, and my days always concluded the same--exhausted, sitting at the kitchen table with my crunchy, sugary cereal--this experience was rewarding. I love those kids, and now I miss them like crazy.
I fell deeper in love with my husband as I watched him be so patient and gentle and playful. Truman came home with a few battle wounds, but as we sit here together on the couch thinking about this experience that has been etched into our hearts, I miss the coming and going, the constant purpose and charge, the structure and the chaos, the snuggling and the playing. I miss those little people that are now a part of our story.
I'm grateful for family, and in this case my families' family. I'm grateful for the opportunities we get to weave in and out of each others lives, like a beautifully crafted quilt. It makes my story full.
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