My family is not calm.

My family is not calm. Not a single aspect of my family has ever been calm. They are not a sedate group of people with whom you quietly sit around a perfect dining room table sharing a cup of tea in perfectly matching cups and saucers discussing, with elegant composure, any topic. 

They. Are. Nuts.

My growing up years were full of mayhem with14 first cousins living on a three-quarter mile of dead-end road. There was always something going on somewhere with someone that kept everyone entertained.

That Jackie (Seester) and her husband have continued the Griffith tradition with their kids is especially evident when I spend time with Jackie and family. Two kids, two spouses and two little munchkins a mere four and two and a half. You know what that means—we’re breaking them in early.

Then there are the dogs. The dogs. When this post was first written in 2015, Airedales Lizzie and Gus were ten and nine. Jackie described them like this: “It’s funny how different two dogs can be. In the morning Lizzie is like RoseMary. Feet flying out the door …. jumping around and greeting everyone. Gus likes to lay in his bed until he absolutely has to get up. Or he gets up, goes outside to do his thing, comes back in and goes back to bed. That’s me.”

Gus (L) & Lizzie (R)

Gus (L) & Lizzie (R)

Gus, unlike Jackie, actually groans in the a.m. as he flips from side to side, stacking his feet up against the log wall. His nickname, due to said sound effects, is The Wookie.

Secretly, I think they have nicknamed Lizzie RM in honor of me. Morning spazzes unite. Both dogs have since passed and while still missed, the new Airedale addition, Daisy, has brought such a unique personality into the home that her humans are still highly entertained.

Visiting at Jackie and John’s house when everyone is there provokes a resounding chorus of havoc and non-stop energy. There is swinging, singing, farming, horse-visiting, dog-petting, out loud book reading (hilarious interpretations of the classics by my nephew-in-law), eating, bike riding, munching, fire-building, fire-tending, flies to be swatted, crayons to be used … and that’s just the adults.

Surely, I jest. 

I do.

Mostly.

The Nest (Designed & Built by LoPresti Masonry)

Kids invigorate grown ups to remember childhood games and rhymes—when’s the last time you did the Hokey-Pokey? And what exactly is that? We’re not sure either, but the lot of us dove into it and taught the little ones how to poke that hokey, dancing around in a loose circle for all we were worth. And dancing! How we danced. The Christian group MercyMe has some tunes that absolutely call for jumping up out of your chair and getting busy getting your groove on for God. I think he must appreciate the enthusiasm if not the talent with which we participate in letting our joy loose to a good beat.

When is the last time you pushed a kid on a swing as the four-year-old requested, “Higher, higher!”, or almost better yet, swung on the swing yourself? Legs folding under the swing then flying straight out before you, using muscles you don’t usually engage sitting at your desk. Why do adults remove the swing sets when the kids out grow them? Why do we out grow them? How fun it would be to replace those tiny seats with ones broader and continue to swing, urging ourselves to go higher.

My time around little children has been sporadic (because my friends with kids know me so well) since Jenny and Adam were tots thirty years ago. Being around these whippersnappers, to use grandpa’s phrase, with their boundless energy is always a total change for me.

Which explains why I started writing this while hiding in the NEST,  wishing the fire were bigger and the wind lesser. This oasis hand-built with river rock on the Jackie-John property has comfortable chairs, an artistic mantle over the fireplace with a stone cross above it, a pizza oven, gas grill, wide windowsills and log table. With a love seat and comfy chairs, it is the perfect spot for running away from stress after a workday or when non-mothers need a brief moment, or several, of quiet.

Noted brother-in-law and oasis craftsman extraordinaire revived me with a glass of Middle Sister Rebel Red Wine. Haven’t tried it? Please do. The label makes gives a chuckle, “If anyone tells you they don’t like red wine, stop talking to them, you don’t need that kind of negativity in your life.” Yes, I so agree.

Middle Sister Rebel Red - California wine

I’m sure our family growing up had and our family now has dysfunction in it—isn’t that human nature? Entwining personalities will conflict and recover and repeat. If you keep love as your basis, those moments of disagreement can be overcome.

Hanging out with Jackie and crew, I saw lots of humor, love, respect, tolerance, and I’ll add—protection. Kids draw that out of us—even confirmed non-moms such as myself. If you care about your relationship with children, you want them to grow up whole, as unscathed as any of us can be, and with crazy chaos surrounding and enriching their lives.

So when is the last time you: Put your right foot in, put your right foot out, put your right foot in and turn it all about…?