For the past week, I have walked around the house with mismatched slippers. My left foot wearing a brown slipper – one half of the pair that my mom just purchased and left at our house to keep her feet warm – and my right foot sporting a mauve fleece slipper from a pair I purchased several years ago. I haven’t really thought about my mismatched slippers, despite the visiting foster caseworker pointing them out last week to the two other caseworkers (we like to schedule them all at one time and pretend to clean up for them). But tonight, once the house grew quiet, I moved myself downstairs to the couch to admire the newly constructed and lit Christmas tree and kicked off the slippers to tuck my feet up under me. I looked down at the odd pair and smiled.
Now, I could just say that wearing this particular pair is a sign of true laziness on my part. I haven’t bothered to bend over and look for the matching sets under any of the couches or chairs or even bothered to look for them at all. Strangely, for the entire week, the missing slippers have not magically appeared themselves like I keep thinking they will.
Or I could admit that my comfort and ease in slipping on two completely different slippers now shows just how completely I have given over to CHAOS and don’t even notice it anymore. I only worry about the missing slippers when my mom does come to visit and I reluctantly give up my crazy pair so that her feet are warm (but since she was on a cruise for the past ten days, my feet have been so nice and toasty).
It’s hard to tell if this surrender is the sign of strength or just a survival mechanism. I mean, I look around this room and see the towels on the floor (awaiting the return of the hamper which hasn’t climbed out of the basement yet with its latest load of laundry), the red Christmas Santa hats and stockings scattered at the base of the tree where the boys discarded them after our torture photo session in front of the tree, the books leaning off the shelves in a “pick me, pick me” stance waiting the joy of page-turning, the orange Matchbox tracks angularly sticking out from under the furniture (although I just noticed the loop and a couple tracks are up on top of the wall railing 6 feet up and in time out after a frustrated little boy threw them when the car didn’t loop as expected)….and I could go on and on ….but won’t, for instance, even mention the fireplace mantel where you’d be hard-pressed to find the beta fish in among the trophies, Lego airplane, digital camera, box set of DVDs, lotion bottles, a red 3-pound hand weight, and numerous other “off limit” or “too small and highly-chokeable” items.
Chaos reigns well enough in my life that yesterday when we pulled away to head down to my late-grandmother’s farm to have Thanksgiving dinner with the family, I wasn’t fazed at all to drive around the block, discover my tire pressure of the front tire read 6 instead of 35 (ie, FLAT), park the car, transfer 3 children into my sister’s car, climb in and head on out. I wasn’t struck by the commotion of 13 children (my brother has 8) bouncing around the small dining room/living room of the farmhouse, wielding light-sabers which occasionally injured innocent bystanders. And I wasn’t (too) fazed by sitting in the back of the new John Deere Gator and bouncing around the brush as my brother provided rides for all the kids. In fact, it just felt really good to be surrounded by family and to watch the kids chase each other, “capture” each other into “tickle jail,” and slam Draw Four cards down in heated games of Crazy Uno. It was delightful to have my grandmother’s farm welcome us all again.
My two cousins spent the night with us afterwards and this morning it seemed like the perfect opportunity to bring up the Christmas tree and start the festivities. We balanced tree-arranging and some football playing, with Micah wrestling a cousin in the other room to get the ball and me defending the mantel knick-knacks (and fish!) from the on-coming missile. The “babies” (we’ll eventually have to stop referring to the youngest two as “the babies”…someday) repeatedly approached the sparkling lights of the tree and timidly reached out hands to marvel at the brightness of bulbs before yielding to the expected reprimands of “Don’t TOUCH!” Noah was the best, though – every time he walked into the living room today, he’d exclaim “oh my gosh,” or “that’s amazing,” or “we have an awesome tree.” The chance to share in this joy and amazement and love of family is what makes the chaos worth it….the clutter worth it….the exhaustion worth it….
It’s what keeps my toes warm in mismatched slippers without a care.