When the farm has just emptied of kids, evidence is plenty. The deck, pool, and surrounding lawns are all festooned with brightly colored plastics: Water guns and leaky swim masks, half-inflated floats, sun-crunchy pirate beach towels, and orphaned flip flops and hair ties. They are all scattered like confetti across the calm, green expanse. We discover an empty juice box here and there, a chewed-to-nothing melon rind, a discarded (hopefully used up) bottle of sunblock.
The chairs and chaise lounges are all askew, abandoned and resting happily like exhausted chaperones after a late night middle school dance.
When we bought these nine acres in 2007, our dream and vision was to give our girls, then 10 and 12, a second half of childhood, a healthy, wholesome coming of age with lots of space for deep breathing and long-leg stretching, animals to love and learn from, and much more.
The seeds of that vision had barely germinated when some destructive life storms blew through our family and changed everything for a season. We hung on, everyone survived, and eventually the sun came out again, brighter than ever. But that’s another story for another day.
Now I sit outside soaking up the cheerful debris of a happier storm, one of so many like it, each one important. “Cousin-Palooza 2017” came and went in a flash, leaving in its wake all this color and all these good vibrations. I sit here taking note of how much love and joy have actually grown here in the midst of that other storm.
Despite it? Or because of it?
For all the years that storm took from our family, has it actually nourished our foundation?
I think so.
I think, I feel in my bones, that the culling and strengthening and the deep watering from both tears and sweat have all contributed to an ongoing beautification. Not just a bigger deck or prettier gardens, not just faster internet, better food and more artwork on the walls- although yes to all of that!
But really, more trusting hearts for my husband and me. Freer minds. Effervescent joy that is actually pretty difficult to flatten.
We are blessed beyond reason. Thankful for adult siblings who trust us with their children so we can share these nine acres in some of the ways we always imagined. Happy to cultivate memories and bonds with our nieces and nephews that, despite inevitable storms headed our way in the future (that’s just how life goes), will last a lifetime and anchor us all.
I always resist the hurry to clean up after a party. I am in no hurry to see it all wiped away, all the colorful debris that kids especially leave behind.
Except that other good stuff is on its way, and we need to make room. Every day, every moment, holds a new promise and a host of surprises. The whole big, beautiful, equally colorful future is about to happen.