EMBRACING THE COLLECTIVE CHAOS
We have this group of friends who started getting together weekly in 2011. We'd just moved to Asheville and the only people we knew here gathered a few other couples and suggested we do a weekly guys' and girls' night. We did it on the same night, to minimize scheduling and build community.
Back then, we were the only ones with kids. So frankly, the schedule sort of rotated around us. The girls would meet at our apartment one week and the guys would go out, and then next week the guys would meet at our place and the girls would go out.
Then the others started having kids. In the last 3 years, 10 kids have joined the group. THAT'S A LOT OF KIDS.
When everyone else had their first round, I loved taking dinner to the new parents. It was so fun to deliver a meal I knew they'd love, and it was beautiful to step into their quiet homes, hear about the birth, and encourage them. I didn't have a baby at the time, so I was a little removed from the situation and I loved watching them step into a new season.
Then I had Piper, and they all had their second round. And it all looks so different.
When my friend Corey had her son, I signed up to make dinner for them. On that day, LATE in the afternoon, I realized I didn't have brown sugar or balsamic vinegar. Which was kind of a big deal because I was making my favorite crock pot pork, with a balsamic glaze.
Corey ended up picking the plain pork up, because she was nearby. So instead of quiet moments in the living room with adoring new parents, it was a drive-by apology for the missing ingredients, and a quick peek at the brand new baby and the now 2 year old big sister in the back.
That was a few months ago. My friend Sharon had her second baby a month ago, and this Tuesday I was scheduled to take dinner to her too. I got everything ready and planned to take it to her in time for her to put it in her own oven, so it was perfectly cooked at her own house instead of being transferred from one house to another.
I loaded the food into the van. I loaded the kids into the van. I loaded myself into the van. And the van wouldn't start.
You may remember that we had some car trouble recently, so the fact that the car didn't start left me slumped at the wheel. I called Sharon and explained that I was going to cook the meal at home, and bring it by after my husband could come jump my car battery. She offered to have her husband pick it up on the way home.
Another drive-by meal drop.
As I unloaded the car, chaos enveloped my entire home. After putting the food in the oven, I sent the girls into the playroom so I could do something productive - vacuum our floor. Halfway through the rug in the living room, the dog started pooping by the front door. I abandoned the vacuum (still running) and threw the dog out the door. I ran back to the vacuum to turn it off, as my 5 year old came around the corner to see what was going on.
"KEEP YOUR SISTERS IN THE PLAYROOOOOOOM!" I yelled as I ran out the door to make sure the dog didn't run away like he had just the day before.
I chased him down our backyard and glared threateningly at him. It worked. He came right back and followed me inside. By that point my 1 year old had escaped from the playroom and was crawling right to the poop left on the floor. I grabbed her, set her back in the playroom then ducked into the bathroom for some toilet paper. I cleaned up the mess and resumed vacuuming.
It was one of those bursts of activity that just left me cracking up. That, plus the car battery - it's just ridiculous.
And the change in pace as our friend group has added kids - it's kind of the same way. Ridiculous.
But one thing I love observing is the way we've adapted, individually and as a group. The reality is, the chaos isn't going anywhere. It might settle down a little here and there, it's not ALL mania all the time, but the chaos will rise again. And we need to adjust. To embrace it.
And I see our group doing that. Sometimes it means picking up your own dinner when you have a newborn because your friend with three kids can't get herself to you. Sometimes it means taking your neighbors kids to school because her car battery is still dead and if they don't go to school she might LOSE HER ACTUAL MIND.
As I've watched our group grow (literally) and change over the last almost 4 years, I'm convinced that chaos will come, and that embracing it together is so much better than facing it alone.