Wild & Free

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Yesterday a friend and I tripped and fell into a river. We made it out alive, but our minds got washed away and before we knew it, we’d agreed to take care of a bunch of kids that didn’t belong to us.

We found ourselves responsible for six girls, from 3 different families, ranging from ages 5 to 10.

I went to the store, bought a bunch of stuff, got it all in the house then looked at my friend and said, “Sooo, I don’t know what to do.”

She looked at me and said “Me neither.”

The world stopped spinning for .025 seconds and then I realized we were in this together. Sweet relief.

My spirit-led friend must have spent some time with the Lord that morning because she then had a genius, God-inspired idea.

“Ummm…Let’s take everything out of the bags!” Yes! That’s what we’ll do first!

And so began our day filled with baking, food, crafts, movies, decorating, and more.

At one point one of the girls came to me and said, “This is better than Pine Cove!”

I looked around at the mess in the room; then looked at her perplexed and said “Really?”

She paused for a second then responded, “Well, no…but it’s better than Girl Scouts! But I’ve never been a girl scout.”

I somehow felt affirmed and accomplished.

We partied literally all day and by the time I made it home I thought, “Am I still alive? What did I just do?”

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I had an absolute blast, but keeping that many girls occupied and fed for that many hours straight was a task. I learned quite a few lessons and had a lot of thoughts. Here are 12 of them, in no particular order:

1. Making a mess is fun

2. I want to have all boys one day, but entertaining boys for that long would’ve been a verrrry different experience. I don’t think baking cookies, playing house, and watching the Chipettes would’ve worked for them.

3. Once you have 6 kids, you may as well have 12. It’s all the same at that point.

4. Kids are great. They ask some amazing questions and they’re hilarious. I’ve always said I’m more partial to teens, but I think I actually like kids now too! As for babies? I’m still not there yet.

5. I don’t want to be a passive parent. I want to be present, engaged, and in the moment. After yesterday, I’m not sure how that’s even possible, but I’m sure I’ll figure it out when it’s time…hopefully.

6. How do parents eat? And get dressed? And have quiet time? I think I got a cookie, a piece of pizza, 3 chicken nuggets and an apple slice in throughout the course of the day.

7. Always use washable paint. What was I thinking?

8. This is a valid reason to miss church tomorrow right?

9. They pretty much ate everything. Wow.

10. What happened to kids taking naps?

11. We had no clue what we were doing and they had no idea. Awesome.

12. I should do this more often

I’m thankful to be where I am in life —an unmarried adult who has more “free time” than a lot of people. My weekends and evenings pretty much look however I want them to and that is nothing to complain about.

On the other hand, I’ve always loved being around families, just being in the thick of their day-to-day happenings, with laundry piled high, dishes all in the sink, and hungry children laying at their parent’s feet in anguish. I love it.

I learn a lot in those moments and I’m better able to see the blessing in and uniqueness of my current position. It breeds a healthy form of contentment mixed with a balanced view of the realities of family life.

I love that I’m able to not only glean from those moments of observation for the sake of my future family, but I’m also in a position where I can be a blessing to some people who need a break from their parental duties or just want to enjoy some human interaction with a fellow adult in the midst of their parental duties.

It’s a gift to be able to say, “Hey! Let me come over or take your kid for a day” and be able to walk out of the madness or give the child back. They get a break while I get some good laughs and practice. A win for us all!

Let the children run wild and the parents be free!

I believe every family should be connected to some unmarried young adults. I plan to always keep some in my circle when I get to that juncture in life. It’ll be good for them and good for us.

In fact, I want to challenge some peeps with families to include some unmarried people in your chaotic world. I promise we will not judge; we will only be amazed that you were even able to brush your teeth that day.

I also want to challenge more unmarried, childfree adults to consider sacrificing some personal time periodically to be a blessing to a family or a couple.

Help some peeps get their date nights back or get their house in a decent place while you occupy their children. Let a single mom get a day to herself. It’s just a few hours of sacrifice for us that will make a huge difference for them. Plus the next weekend, we’ll be back to kickin’ it with our regular crew like nothing happened!

We are blessed to be a blessing. Let’s live like it.

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