Our “Perfect” Family Photo; Reality: The Family Circus

Our “Perfect” Family Photo; Reality: The Family Circus

My name is Sarah, and I’m married to my high school sweetheart. We’ve been blessed with four children – two boys and two girls. I love my house. I love my awesome family.
 It’s a dream come true.
 But it certainly hasn’t been a walk in the park having four kids in just under four years.

I’ve had to shake my idealist self and replace her with a more realistic one. Now I am learning to deal with reality, one crazy family moment at a time. 
Even with the craziness traditions and making sure things are special is very important to me, but I’m pretty sure about 90 percent of my awesome family plans either end up in tears, parent fails or fighting. I want to shout, “Can’t we all just get along so we can make some happy family memories?!?!”

In my head I have the perfect idea of how things are supposed to go, and then when they do not go that way, I become disappointed. 
Our Christmas card picture is a great example. It looks so serene and ideals; what it fails to show though is the chaos that led to tha one, brief snapshot of smiles. 
We eventually got the picture, but the journey sure was stressful! One of these days I will learn my lesson that you just can’t expect “Christmas Card” memories when you have “The Family Circus” as your reality. 
But what I’m discovering is that it isn’t always about having the perfect family moments when it comes to valuable memories. Some of our craziest moments end up being our favorite family stories to tell and retell over the years.

My life is crazy, but I’m learning to embrace that and actually enjoy it.
 Here are some examples of our “Christmas Card Family Circus” moments:

1. Let’s go get shaved ice! (Oh wait, you need cash for that? Back in the van. Off to Sonic!)

2. Let’s Trick or Treat; it’s not THAT cold (unless you get locked out of the house, freeze to death and have four crying children on hand. Oh yea, and a baby who pooped on everyone in the tub when you finally do get back inside!) Happy Halloween!

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3. Hmmm, only thing left on the preschool sign up list for Thanksgiving feast is chicken and dumplings. I can do that. But in reality I realize, who has time for that? I swing by the grocery on the way to school THAT morning to buy canned chicken and dumplings only to realize – while pulling into the store – that I forget my wallet. I drive back home but run out of gas. I eventually get gas and go back to the store to get the dumplings but we are super late.

4. Nine hours in the car isn’t THAT long for a family vacation. What were we thinking? I’m surprised we are still married after the longest nine hours of my life.  Once we arrived I decided we had to move there because I was not driving those nine hours back home with those people in the van. I will just keep chanting, “I am immune to crying; I am immune to crying…” Nope, I’m losing it.

5.  I’m just going to sit down here and breastfeed the baby while the twins watch a quiet show. This is what really happens – while nursing I am wiping a 2-year-old’s butt while the other twin squeezes diaper cream on the carpet and the 4 year old dumps animal crackers on the floor. Help!

6. Let’s just stay home and eat a special Valentine’s dinner in the dining room with our kids. I don’t know what I was thinking when I planned that one. The spaghetti was cold; the sparkling grape juice spilled; the crying was constant, and a nylon spoon caught on fire.  Nothing says “Love is in the air” more than a flaming spoon flying out the front door!
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7. It won’t be that hard to move to a new house with a 5, 3, 3, and 1 year old. Nope, it wasn’t hard; it was INSANITY. I’m hoping the kids were young enough we didn’t scar them for life.

8. We’ll be a flexible family; the kids can take naps a bit later than normal. Nope; World War IV just broke out because we caved and went off schedule. MUST stick to the schedule.
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9. I can’t wait to be a stay at home Mom.  We will make crafts and go to the library. Yes, we’ve made those crafts and visited the library. But no one told me I would feel like Cinderella before she meets the prince more often than not.

10. Dance parties with the kids and your husband after dinner. This one really is pretty awesome. Fussy kids: Dance parties cure it every time!

We are far from living the life that appears to be depicted in that perfect Christmas card picture, but boy, life is still good. Despite the hard, crazy and whiny, I’m grateful to God for the family moments and for how I’m learning to let go and live.

*We did not bribe our kids with suckers to smile for this years Christmas picture. (Yes, yes we did.)

– Sarah H

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