Every evening, we gather around the table, eat dinner, talk about our day, and read a little bit. This December, we are reading about the Jesse Tree and each evening after dinner, the kids all get a small gift. By small, I mean, a roll of lifesavers. A pez dispenser. Silly putty. Those sorts of things. They never know what is going to be in the package. So, each evening leading up to Christmas, we get to watch them be surprised and overjoyed by the little things. Like a new pencil. Or a hula hoop. Or new gloves from the dollar bin at Target.

We’ve been taking photos most nights, too. But we’re not photographers and our photos are as cluttered as our lives. And by cluttered, I mean in most you can see that we don’t really ever put away the vacuum cleaner. You can see that the wheelchair, walker, braces, crutches, etc… don’t really have a home. And the mail, school papers, or wayward craft projects accumulate on nearly every level surface in the house. Including the floor. And the couch. And the table. And so on.

And our lives are cluttered, too. With diagnoses. Doctors. Psychiatrists. Therapists of all kinds: PT, OT, Speech, Behavioral… If you looked real close, you would see that we still haven’t quite figured out this whole parenting thing.

And I’d like to be embarrassed by all that clutter. That my house doesn’t look like a spread in the Pottery Barn catalogue. That we’ve figured out how to manage all the special needs. And I wish I could say that I don’t run through the house like a madwoman gathering up the clutter in an empty laundry basket or cardboard box and tossing it in the garage just as the unexpected company rings the doorbell.

I’d like to be embarrassed, but I’m not. My house is very, very lived in. Our home is filled with all kinds of unexpected. My kids don’t care a bit about the mess, unless they are asked to help tidy it. They don’t care a bit about the vacuum being out all of the time, unless they are asked to use it. They don’t notice the “special” because it is all they know. They don’t care about how different our family looks to the outside world.

They care about the other stuff.

When they are grown and gone, they will remember sitting around the dining room table. Eating. Talking. Laughing. Being surprised. And loving the little things. I hope they will look back on their childhood and remember that the clutter meant we lived. And we tried. And we loved.

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