I’ve spent the past four days (in a row) with eight children.
One 6 year old, two 5 year olds, two 3 year olds, one 2 year old, and two 8 month olds. They are my wonderful, beautiful family and I love them so much. It’s a funny thing about kids, they give people different reactions. Some people freak out and don’t want to get anywhere near them, some people only talk in baby voices (something that I often plead guilty to), and some people are just apathetic to the chaos that is children. I, personally, love them. I could, and have, play all day long and that’s still not enough time with them.
But having the kids here (5 live in Cali and the other 3 live in ATL) for such a short time has made me actually seriously evaluate my life. No, for all of you panicking, I am not announcing that I’m pregnant or something totally crazy. Having them here with all the joy, innocence, honesty and laughter that they bring with them, has really reminded me of one of the most overused clichés in the universe: life is short.
Life isn’t about how clean your house is, how skinny you look, how good you are at sports, or how much money you make. Let’s be honest, no one is going to look at a picture of themselves 70 years from now and think “oh man, I wish I was on a diet back then. I should have eaten salad morning, noon, and night. I would feel so much more fulfilled right now if I had been 10 pounds lighter.”
Hopefully, you’re going to look at that old picture and think “those were the good old days! I lived life, made memories, and had the time of my life.” You won’t remember that the countertops in the beach house were a little cluttered or dusty. You won’t remember that you had just gotten a haircut that you cried over because you thought you just looked dreadful. You will remember what you did, who you were with, and how you felt.
As much as I wish I had the body of Kate Upton, (or better yet, my girl Jen Aniston) I simply don’t. I never will. I could starve myself and work out 5 hours a day. It wouldn’t happen. Damn genetics! I have cellulite. My thighs touch when I walk. I don’t have a 6-pack. While it’s tempting to fall into the trap of self-loathing and inaccurate body image, I consciously try not to. You know why?
My boyfriend has never once said “you know, you’re pretty, but you’d look so much better if you lost 5 pounds or toned up a little.” My friends have never said “eh, we’d rather not be seen at the beach with you and your massive thighs.” Because that is not what matters, my friends! That is my point!
We could beat ourselves up forever over our imperfections. I’m weird. I’m cluttered. I’m a terrible mess in every way. Ask my roommate if you don’t believe me. Here’s the beauty of what I’m saying. When I’m with the kids, they don’t love me less because of that. They don’t look at me and see what I see in the mirror. They look at me and see the good. Kids are so much more forgiving of everything than adults.
I’ve never once heard a child say “I hate my haircut. These bangs are not perfectly symmetrical and they make my right eye look bigger than my left eye.” Nether have I heard a child say “Oh no, I absolutely cannot have play date today. My room is a mess and I haven’t vacuumed in 3 days!” Because they don’t care. They know that life is not about those things. But yet as we grow up, we become so jaded. We turn into monsters that can’t focus on the moment, but instead how the moment looks.
These precious, precious children will only be precious, precious children for a few more precious years. And then they will be in middle school. And then high school. And then they will be legitimate adults. When they’re 15, I’m going to be the old lady that reminds them that they used to say “little” and it sounded like “yittle.” I’ll be the annoying chick that pulls out pictures of them with a Rudolph nose and googley-eyed glasses (yes, these are all real examples) and reminisces about the good old days.
I don’t want to miss the moments that are right in front of me now. I want to hear all the yittle voices and get hugs from all the yittle kids. I don’t want to be so obsessed with the details that I miss reality.
With the babes and with everything else in life. I already am thinking about graduating college and looking forward to having a real job. While that’s fine, I don’t want to look back at my college years and think “what a drag. I was a buzzkill.”
I mean, I’m not about to tell you to go party it up so you remember your years (you won’t remember anything if you don’t handle yourself responsibly anyway) in college. But I challenge you, and myself, to do something crazy every once and a while just because. Because when you’re old, you want to have stories to tell your grandkids.
My amazing grandma is going on 94. She has so many incredible stories from her life that it honestly makes me jealous. She and my grandfather had a ball. (I don’t remember too much of him, but apparently he was a real hoot.) They had costume parties, went out dancing, made life long memories with all their friends. She told Rick and I tonight that she once dyed her hair pink and dyed it green on a separate occasion.
Although I’m not planning to go bleaching my hair tomorrow, (no Miley-esque transformation for me) I wish I would have had the epiphany of sorts while I was panicking about cutting my hair. “Oh, what if it looks bad?!” “Oh, what if it’s too short?!” “Oh, what if I hate it and want my long hair back?!”
How about “Oh, there are toddlers that lost their hair to cancer, so cut off as many inches as you can so they can have a beautiful wig, you selfish loser!”
Life isn’t about if my hair looks good. The world won’t stop rotating on it’s axis. Life isn’t about if my kitchen counter is clean or messy. It simply is not. Life is about loving people. To the fullest. To the max. Life is about laughing. Hard and often. I’m begging you, and I’m begging myself, to stop dwelling on material things that just don’t matter.
Be in the moment as much as you can. Worry on the way to lunch with your girlfriends instead of worrying while you’re pretending to listen to them. ACTUALLY LISTEN TO THEM. They are what’s important. Hang out with your family. Make the kids in your life give you as many kisses as you can. I can only get kisses from kids under 3, and sometimes even that is a battle.
My point, if you haven’t gotten it already, is this. When you die, the person giving your eulogy isn’t going to say “Man, wasn’t she fat?! She looked terrible in that blue swimsuit. Remember that? Who else would like to share a time that she looked absolutely horrible? Or a time her house was a mess?”
They’re going to say “Man, wasn’t she full of life? Wasn’t she loving and kind? Wasn’t she the most loyal friend? Who else would like to share a memory of her?” Give them plenty to talk about once you’re gone.