No, the title of this post doesn't refer to anything crazy or sneaky like using carrots in spaghetti gravy or spinach in brownies so the kids get extra vegetables, because frankly that would be much easier. Instead I am referring to that time honored tradition for moms everywhere - the closet switch. The time when all the clothes are picked through, sorted, handed down, thrown out, or placed in the shrine (more on that later).
Otherwise known as torture.
Torture because I never know where to start or when it will end. But somehow I manage to come up with a system and get it all done. I mean ALL done. Shoes, pjs, dresses, pants, matching socks, tights, undies, etc... Every item that they own. (and this was only the girls - Rad is much easier since he can wear things longer)
I usually have some type of conversation with myself regarding the amount of clothes we own. I then call Cindy and discuss "our plan" (because naturally she has to have the same plan as me - why would I want to be alone in my quest to never buy another article of clothing for my girls again. Ever.). We come up with a great plan that includes rules for each other, grandparents, friends, etc... NO MORE CLOTHES.
The plan is amazing. The plan is going to work. The plan is iron clad.
And then the mail comes and Hanana Anderson is having an amazing sale on things that we "need".
I know the picture above looks like our girls never repeat clothes, but in our defense (ok, my defense) this is a combination of new, old, Munson hand-me-downs (thank you!), etc...
And then the REAL work begins.
The part where I go through all the things that they have outgrown or don't use. I guess which out-of-season clothes they will be able to wear again and place those in a pile. Then garage sale, then hand-me-downs to other friends, then hand-me-backs to the HMMs. Music is always involved.
And then my frustration and feeling of being completely overwhelmed vowing that my children will only wear uniforms for the rest of their lives fades...
Because as I sort through all of this "excess", I begin to find pieces of significance that leads to a giant "keep forever" (or at least right now) pile. This leads to lots of tears. This is the part where I go through every moment, every time they wore that something special. And then I realize that they will never be that small, that vulnerable, or at that stage in life ever again. I especially lost it at the swaddle blankets. We have tons of them, perfectly washed. Worn. Used. Loved. The smell of that sweet baby still lingers on a few that we never washed.
(I am sure my mother is in a panic reading this screaming at the computer "no more babies" but Gigi would love as many babies as we have). And while I'm not about to announce anything big and exciting, it does bring me to a pause.
I get asked "are you done?" a lot. And while I would like my answer to involve something snarky, I usually just smile and say "I don't know"... to keep them guessing. But the truth is... we don't know. How could we KNOW? Can any of us ever be sure?
Can we really say no to more love, more life, more miracles? Can we deny the change that happens in us or the capacity of love we are able to create because we are given these gifts? Can we deny that same capacity of love to their siblings? Can I really never imagine Radley having a little brother? Or Emmy and Landry for that matter? Can we really say that we would never have any more children because of time or money or energy?
Or could we just do a little less? Buy a little less? Live a little less scheduled? Could we pray a little more? Give a little more? Open our hearts a little more and be open to the possibility?
The truth is, being a parent is both incredibly exhausting and amazingly rewarding. Being a parent shows you every gritty, hard, difficult, unfair, ugly part of life... but only through every beautiful, peaceful, graceful, kind, and joyous part of the journey. Being a parents forces you to become a better kind of person while facing all of your own imperfections. Being a parent is an indescribable kind of experience. Being a parent makes you finally realize exactly how much YOUR parents love you. And it's impossible. Being a parent is impossible. It really sometimes seems impossible. Like you can't get it all done. You can't face one more day of fighting, crying, teething, stomach bug, snotty noses. You can't do it. You need rest. You need help. You need DRUGS. (ok, ok... maybe not) (but really). Really all you need is Him.
It is impossible to think that you can't love more, learn more, do more, while eating less, reading less, and sleeping less.
And as I finish this post at 6:15am (because I fell asleep the night before mid-type), Emmy sits curled next to me, Bunny in hand, hair a mess, rubbing my arm as she tries to avoid really waking up even after the trek in here, and I am reminded that these are fleeting moments.
That next year this too big set of pjs she has on will be too small and once again make their way into a labeled bin. That the process of sorting our lives is an on-going adventure. That my capacity to love grows with each inch they mark on our wall. That each tattered pair of shoes, tossed away t-shirt and torn up jeans may cause me some frustration during the next "switch" but that I would never give up the moments in between.
I could; however, be open to a sponsor that keeps me accountable to "the rules."