Kids change everything

You hear it a hundred times while you’re pregnant and in those first few months — “Life will never be the same.”

Sweet moment with Miles and Charlie during our Christmas celebration.

Sweet moment with Miles and Charlie during our Christmas celebration.

And it’s true. But often that statement is said with this kind of a meaning — “Do everything fun you ever wanted to do before you have kids because once you do you’ll never do anything ‘grown up’ fun again.”

And that’s not true.

Life is just different. Some things are harder, and yes, I’m going to be honest, some things about it suck. But you know what, different isn’t always bad. In so many ways, at least in my experience, life is so much more rewarding and fulfilling post-kids. It certainly isn’t simpler, but hey, who wants simple? (OK, yes, there are days I’d like simpler, but overall challenges make things more exciting and fun.)

Charlie trying out one of Miles' gifts -- a dress-up hat.

Charlie trying out one of Miles’ gifts — a dress-up hat.

It didn’t take Miles’ first Christmas to realize that having kids changes pretty much everything the five seconds after he was pulled out of me I instantly felt different. And there’s been thousands of moments (like taking a shower, going to the grocery store, packing for a road trip, weekend plans, etc.) where I’ve seen the impact and changes of having a child has.

Miles reacting to Grandma excited about one of his gifts -- a barking flashlight he now MUST sleep with.

Miles reacting to Grandma excited about one of his gifts — a barking flashlight he now MUST sleep with.

But this past Christmas was a vivid reminder of how things change after we bring bundles of happiness and snot, AKA kids, into the world. This was the first “Brown family” Christmas where there were two little ones. The last two Christmases it has just been Miles to wreak havoc on our plans and things were closer to “normal” but with a nearly 1-year-old little boy and a 2-1/2-year-old little guy, all sense of normalcy were shot.

My brother-in-law Chris relaxing while opening up one of his gifts.

My brother-in-law Chris relaxing while opening up one of his gifts.

The Brown family Christmas — my parents, sister and me — has never been celebrated on Christmas day. As kids we always travelled to family on that day and as my sister and I got older distance or jobs made a Christmas morning celebration difficult. And then we toss in husbands with families of their own and scheduling becomes even more difficult. And as my mom has always said, “we can be together any day to celebrate.” This year was no different with me working Christmas day. So this past weekend was when we celebrated — my mom, my sister, her husband, their 11-month-old son, my husband, my 2-1/2-year-old son and me.

Sarah and Charlie opening gifts.

Sarah and Charlie opening gifts.

Traditionally, and regular blog readers know that traditions are pretty big in my family, we have a Christmas Eve game night with close family friends (we call them our faux aunties) and soup. The next morning we open stockings while our individual breakfast casseroles are baking. After breakfast, that is enjoyed leisurely while we listen to Christmas tunes, we open up presents going one present at a time so we can all enjoy the morning as long as possible.

Grandma and Miles

Grandma and Miles

Insert maniacal laughing here. As I’m sure everyone guessed NONE of that happened as it normally does.

Because of nap and bedtime schedules and other plans we had to scrap the whole “Christmas Eve” tradition. And plus, I am not real sure how we would have played games with the little guys anyway.

My sister and her family arrived around 11 a.m. Saturday morning and right away we jumped into opening up stockings and presents because the kids nap around noon or 1. The kids didn’t have the patience for us to go one on one and there was more than a few outbursts during the present unwrapping.

But it was awesome. I enjoyed watching Charlie attempt at tearing paper during his first Christmas. It was such a joy to watch Miles actually get Christmas for the first year. And I loved seeing my mom’s reaction when she opened up a gift the two boys made her. Of course I was touched by all of the thoughtful gifts we received too.

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That day was SO different than years past. But I wouldn’t have it any other way. We still enjoyed each others company. We had the added joy the boys brought us. It was just different; it was better.

This gift was from grandpa -- a two-stringed banjo made from a Cracker Jack lunch box. My mom chose a gift for each of us that of things that were special to my dad that were from him. As always, he was there celebrating in spirit.

This gift was from grandpa — a two-stringed banjo made from a Cracker Jack lunch box. My mom chose a gift for each of us that of things that were special to my dad that were from him. As always, he was there celebrating in spirit.

Hopefully in coming years we can continue to add chaos and “difference” to our lives and family celebrations making a few new traditions along the way.

And you know what, in five or 10 years when things are calmer and there aren’t any tiny ones at our feet throwing tantrums needing naps or eagerly ripping through gifts and we are able to celebrate in the old way, we are going to miss it all!

My takeaway from the amazing Brown Family Christmas 2013 is to love the moments as they come and appreciate them. Different is different but it is also good.

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