Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Brotherly Love

By Kelly

I carry the baby from the bathroom. She’s wrapped in a hooded towel like a plump, wet burrito.

Her brother, wrapped in his own towel combo, trails behind and makes the following announcement about his sister.

“Mom, tomorrow night, I’m going to marry Teyla.”

I pause. It’s true that my family tree can be traced back to Kentucky. (In which case the tree is a wreath, ha, ha.) But I still didn’t see this coming.

(Not to mention I haven’t sent invitations.)

“Well buddy,” I say as I dry off the squirming bride-to-be, “you don’t usually marry someone from your family.”

He frowns.

“In fact, in some states, it’s against the law to marry your brother or sister,” I add solemnly, the weight of the United States government on my side.

“Hmmm,” he says doubtfully.

I feel compelled to add evidence to my case.

“Dad’s not my brother, you know. He wasn’t in my family when I was a little girl.”

Connor chuckles, still unsure that I’m telling the truth. After all, from what he can tell, Corey and I have been related forever. Why shouldn’t we have grown up side by side, fighting and laughing and playing together since the beginning of time?

“Mo-om,” he says, and he rolls his eyes and shakes his head and walks away with all the dignity of a near naked five-year-old.

In lieu of gifts, please send money for counseling.

Kelly also blogs at Love Well -- which takes on a whole new meaning in light of this post.

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

That House

By Kelly

A Tuesday in mid-August doesn’t seem the most likely day for a dream to come true.

Even when it dawns sunny and bright and filled with the sing-song of birds and toddlers, the ordinariness is louder than the potential within.

That’s how my day started yesterday. A yawn, some coffee. Wipe a nose, pour some cereal, check the headlines, change a diaper.

Then it gained momentum, and like a snowball rolling downhill, it picked up speed and intensity. A friend came to visit with her two-month-old baby. Another friend called to announce she was in town unexpectedly; would my daughter want to play with her daughter? The doorbell rang. The bikes piled up.

And suddenly, I was that house.

You know. That house. The one in the neighborhood that seems to have children swarming in and out of the doors like so many bees in a hive.  The one where sidewalk chalk etchings permanently decorate the driveway. The one where kids laugh and yell and instigate games of “Hike and Seek” and “Boy-Girl War.”

When I was growing up, our neighborhood was like an ad for suburbia. There were kids everywhere. My younger siblings were always out playing with friends and riding bikes to so-and-so’s house and catching fireflies in the communal backyards.

But since there were no kids my age in the neighborhood – I had the misfortune of being born too early in the 70s, apparently – I had no neighborhood friends. I spent most of my days indoors, reading a book while hanging upside down from the sofa or recording jingles on my very own tape deck for my personalized radio station (KLLY – The Music Of My Life).

It wasn’t until I was a leader in our church’s youth group that I started to envy the houses that were so comfortable with kids they appeared to have their own magnetic pull. Sunday evenings, when we would visit homes for “drop-ins,” I would watch from the corner amazed as parents welcomed scores of teenagers into their homes and proceeded to hand out cans of soda, bags of popcorn and the inevitable bandages and towels (for water balloon fights) without batting an eyelash.

I secretly hoped that someday, if I were to have children, I would have that kind of house. The kind that welcomed instead of warned, that shrugged when a ball knocked over a plant, that traded control for chaos and restraint for joy.

And that’s why I smiled inwardly yesterday at every “Mom! Can we have a snack?” and “Mom, we’re thirsty!” and “Mom, we need more bandages for the animal hospital!” Even the door slams and shrieks of laughter and spilled ice cream didn’t damper my delight.

Because in the middle of the craziness, I recognized a dream come true.

Even – or maybe especially – on a Tuesday in August.

Kelly's personal blog is Love Well, which she views as an extension of her choatic home. Feel free to stop by. And bring your kids. The more the merrier.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Multiple Channels

By Kelly

There are days when I wonder what it would be like to parent an only child.

Oddly enough, the thought isn't entertained on the days when my three children turn into heathen monkeys.

Rather, it lingers on days that are easy, when each child seems to shine brightly as their own, unique creation. Natalie, 8, might be drawing or imagining worlds for her tiny plastic animals. Connor, 5, is probably playing Legos, creating new forts to house his band of brothers to fight the bad guys. And Teyla, 1, a toddler now really, alternately chatters and shrieks as she follows me around the house, eager to help me unload the dishwasher or fold the towels as long as she can be next to "Mah-mee."

On days like that, I look around and wonder how I can take it all in. It's like trying to watch my three favorite TV programs simultaneously. I want to grab the cosmic pause button and put a couple on hold so I can really focus in on the action, the plot, the character development of just one.

I miss so much when all three are playing at the same time. And it tends to be noisy and chaotic and sometimes even tense when the channels overlap and compete.

But this is my life. We aren't a one channel household.

So I drink another cup of coffee, the better to keep up with the rampaging horde, and I open my heart wide and try to take in as much as I can.

I wish I didn't have to miss a minute. Because each show is the best thing I've ever seen.

Kelly also blogs at Love Well, which is like her own version of a DVR for her life.