Wow! For us summer is like being on “Fast Forward” on the old VCR machine without any way to press “Stop”! From July 1st to August 1st we had from 12 to 36 people at our house at Bear Lake every day. During the week of our reunion we had 32 men, women and children for three meals a day. In a ten day period we figured that we served about 840 meals!
Packing the food into our mountain house (which is an hour round trip to the nearest grocery store) is the hardest part. With nine of our own children, five in-law spouses, eight grandsons and eight granddaughters (the oldest is ten) we had a lot of mouths to feed but also lots of help with meals and cleaning up.
At dinnertime the sound level moved from a constant buzz punctuated by an occasional two year old tantrum and gradually grew to a loud roar of screaming and crying as noisy as any rock band even though the cacophony was composed of a bunch of starving little kids hoping to drum up some food….soon! Once food was in their mouths it was as if someone turned the volume down on the iPod speaker to almost inaudible. Stomach satisfaction abounded for at least an hour!
Of course it wasn’t all about food. It was also about sand castles, horse rides, blowing bubbles, long talks on the beach and watching the kids dig enough holes in the sand to almost get to China if they were all put together. It was about gorgeous sunsets and speed scrabble and composing a list of favorite memories of living at home and a bonfire with campfire dinners where we listened to everyone’s favorite songs of the year on a CD.
But it was also about throwing up and diarrhea. Every year we have some sort of “bug” going around. Usually it’s stuffy noses and coughs that keep kids and parents up all night. This year it was throwing up and diarrhea. From one room came a blood curdling scream from an eighteen month old with a bottom that looked like raw meat. In the laundry room where one of the two and a half year old twins slept there was throw-up, luckily over the edge of the “pack and play” and onto the slate floor. The incidence of spewing forth at both ends spread by the day and luckily stopped with only about six kids and two adults.
Through all the craziness, the most fun thing for me, next to being with our adorable grandchildren was watching their mothers. Those who were up at 2 a.m., 3 a.m. and 5 a.m. with toddlers screaming in pain from diaper rash or throwing up several times in the night loved those babies even more the next day. Those who cleaned up endless piles of cheerios and apple juice and accounted for five mouths to be fed before they put a bite into their own, did so without a murmur. Though admitting counting the minutes until bedtime they read stories to their kids every night and made sure they brushed their teeth, said their prayers, settled ongoing negotiations for some new exciting place to sleep, and quieted kids a hundred times before the night finally fell silent. There was a certain amount of angst from the mother of the twins, when one little renegade escaped unnoticed and reaching up as far as his tippy toes could take him, meticulously covered the outside of the white family mini-van with an orange crayon. But the recovery was pretty quick even in that case.
Today, a ton of food and a mountain of diapers later, I looked through about two thousand digital pictures of our precious few days together. I saw happy shining faces full of light and love and joy (and just a little bit of diarrhea running down one little leg) and I thought of what an amazing journey motherhood is. Yes, some days “motherhood is like being pecked to death by a duck” but hats off to you fabulous mothers who realize that through the day to day routine of being a mom you are creating, one day at a time, the mothers and fathers who will be the strong nucleus our future world. In your own way you will have changed the world!