From downstairs, I can hear Claire’s voice. She’s learned to say, “Hey Daddy!” and then Daddy says, “What?” and she says, “I luh you!” and Daddy melts into a big puddle of sappy.
If you say it back, “Hey Claire!” she’ll say, “What?” and you say, “I love you!” she’ll say, “I luh you too!” It’s so cute and none of us ever get tired of hearing her say it. From the oldest sister down to Lila, they all love to hear it. Because LOVE is a common thread in the culture of our family.v
I look around this room I’ve been in since Sunday and I see echoes of Lila and Claire everywhere.
In our house, it’s not at all unusual to find plastic animals basically anywhere. (Examples: the refrigerator, the snack basket in the pantry, any windowsill, your purse, John’s desk, the toilet) Lila sets up these intricate scenes and Claire comes along and destroys them. It’s not unusual to step painfully on a Littlest Pet Shop creature in the night or to trip on someone’s shoes or backpack at the bottom of the stairs.
In our house, it’s not all unusual to find books all over the place either. We all love to read. The older girls are always reading their Bibles or the Hunger Games or Jane Austen and they’re always leaving their books everywhere. I’ve read two books since I got my Nook on Wednesday. (I can’t leave those laying around though.) John has eleventy million books and they are in piles and on shelves and all around. The little girls love their books too and never tire of being read to. I like that books are part of the culture of our family.
In our house, people don’t always remember to put things away, stack their dishes in the sink, return things they’ve borrowed. It’s not uncommon to find water glasses on bedside tables or discarded jewelry on end tables, shoes in the hallway. It’s not uncommon to have to search three bedrooms to find your hairbrush…or make up brush…or the good mascara. It’s not uncommon to see big girls going from room to room searching for a shared article of clothing.
In our house, it’s hard to get a word in edgewise and it’s hard to hear the tv over voices talking and cracking up. In our house, you might hear up to three instruments being played, one to five voices singing, or three girls squealing over Bollywood and K-dramas.
In our house, it’s weird and strangely quiet in those rare moments when just John, Claire and I are home.
Claire looks for the chaos when that happens. She wanders the house saying, “Lila? Aub-bee, Ju-ja, Duh…Bubby?” She’ll try the next tier of loved ones, “Nonnie? Gunkie? Meema?”
I love that the culture of our house is relational and people oriented, that we worry more with loving well than having a super clean house. That you can’t hear yourself think because everyone is buzzing with chatter and laughter and conversation.
I told a friend who came to visit yesterday that I’m happy as long as the house is at about a level six or seven and that’s really true. I’d rather have a Calico Critters village in my bedroom and books everywhere and the shoes of teenage girls all over the place than a clean and empty home.
I listen to Claire, she’s singing now….”I luh you….you luh me….” and I think we’re teaching her something good. That love comes first. That relationship comes first. That sometimes sitting in the kitchen floor with four teenage girls until 1:00am is more important than finishing the dishes. That reading the Blues Clues pop up book for the nineteenth time today is nothing but a pleasure.
Our kids may not be spectacular housekeepers (well, except Deanna but we can’t take credit for that, she came that way) but they know how to love well.
Our household motto is “Love Well”. What’s yours?