We had a birthday party this week. No one in our household has had a birthday recently, but that doesn’t matter. We were cleaning out the garage for probably the first time since we moved in three years ago and underneath all the lint from the dryer (our dryer vents into the garage, which is fantastic and I highly recommend it) we found an old cardboard box full of decorations from our now 6-year-old Jacob’s second birthday party. Inside the fuzzy box there were unopened packages of yellow and red paper plates, a birthday sign, napkins, whistles (awesome), Sesame Street party hats, and several bugs.
“We’re going to have a party!” Jacob exclaimed.
My wife and I were cool with it. We’re always down for a party. Also, we really wanted to finish cleaning out the garage and letting the boys plan and throw this party inside seemed like an easy way to achieve that goal.
With them safely out of the way and the baby digging in the dirt by the driveway or whatever, we finished off the garage and it looks amazing now for like ten minutes or until we run the dryer again.
When I came inside to prepare dinner—Michelle was still working on the garage because that’s more her type of thing—Jacob and his brother Bennett had laid the birthday sign out on the living room floor and set the packs of paper plates on the kitchen counter. Things were getting festive.
“Daddy! Set the table for us!” Jacob shouted as I started to assemble enchiladas.
“Where?” I asked.
“Here,” he replied, pointing at the counter where the plates were already sitting.
“You already did,” I observed.
“But it’s not set!”
“I don’t get it.” (I never get it.)
“Set the plates out!”
“You can do it. It’s your party.”
“Noooo! I don’t want to!”
We went around in circles like this for about fifteen minutes because Jacob and I can both be exceedingly lazy. Obviously, I gave in eventually and moved three plates from the stack about fifteen inches to the left and laid them in a row on the counter.
“Ah! Perfect,” Jacob said with a grin.
Despite the ease with which the situation was ultimately settled, the preceding argument was still worth it. I stand by my decision.
Meanwhile, Olivia had joined the party and all three of the kids took their places in front of the empty plates on the counter. I scrounged around and found some extra tortillas, corn, and cheese for them to feast on. Olivia climbed from chair to chair and grabbed for the boys’ food, as she does. This caused quite a stir, but I left it alone. Parties are free-for-alls in my book.
Oh yes, I was wearing an Elmo party hat this whole time. And the boys were incessantly blowing the whistles and I was required to come take instructions from them about something every time they signaled, which, as I mentioned, was every 1.5 seconds. Such fun.
The party kind of petered out from there, but late that night I discovered some remnants of the revelry.
Then, I looked around the house some more. It was late and the house was quiet. There was a tennis match on the TV to provide background noise. One of the chihuahuas was snoring in his bed by the fireplace.
Looking around, it struck me just how weird this whole having kids thing is. It’s been a little over six years since the first of our tribe arrived on the scene. That doesn’t seem like very long, but man have those six years made an impact. On our minds, hearts, bodies, and, perhaps most obviously, our home décor, which can best be described as “we have little kids, they run our lives, and we don’t have the time or energy to care that much about what our house looks like right now.”
Here are but a few samples of our current decorating choices.
We have a lot of top-notch art work taped to the walls in very well-thought out locations.
Some are even multi-part homages to seasonal holidays (I think this is what I was told) such as, um, like a tree or something in winter, no ghosts allowed, and Valentine’s Day?
And there are even helpful directions to other locations in the house that have been hanging on the walls for probably more than a year now.
It’s really something. But, I wouldn’t change a thing. Before kids, my house was always neat and minimalistic, but now, everywhere I look there’s a hint of a memory that makes me smile. Whether it’s a sign taped to the wall or a stack of toys piled under a window, it’s a little piece of this crazy, exasperating, overflowing life we are busy living.
Most of the time, when your primary focus is parenting small children, days feel very ordinary and uneventful. But, a lack of big events doesn’t make the days unimportant. Look around. The little reminders of ordinary lives being lived day by day decorating your less than perfect house are certainly more valuable than they seem at first glance. Actually, you might even say they are worth celebrating.