4 kids in 3 years: reflections on motherhood, art and life.
So why haven’t I been writing, you ask.
Well, besides the family in town, teaching a five-year-old boy to use a sewing machine, the new Barbie Dreamhouse that needs me to make furniture for it (life is a compromise), the overflowed toilet and the four children between the ages of three and six?
Actually, I have been writing. I’ve been writing my Christmas cards. And yes, it’s currently after Christmas. I was there for Christmas, so I know that. But thank you for remembering, too.
Each year it’s a schlep, a battle royale, a Sisyphean endeavor. I go to iPhoto. I choose the pictures, which is no easy task, as all children were not made equally photogenic (harsh, but true.) I fit said photos in the same format card I’ve used every year for about six years. I write a pithy report for the backside. I go to iPhoto and hit order. I receive the cards. I take the list I used to address our wedding invitations thirteen years ago, the one with all the return address labels taped to it and arrows and cross outs, and I address the cards. I dig through whatever Forever stamps we have and voila’!
Except my computer told me I need to buy a new computer if I want to continue to use iPhoto and I lost the list of addresses. It was a classic Give a Moose a Muffin moment. My husband actually suggested we go to the Apple store to buy a new computer so I could finish the cards! And I actually almost started to cry.
Later that night (read ‘midnight’) I headed to Minted; re-chose the photos; re-removed red eye; rewrote the pithy report on our year’s antics. I ordered the cards from Minted, but for real this time, no proof, no fancy envelope inserts. Screw you, Apple-pimp.
My husband was so moved by my courageous efforts that upon opening the Minted box three days later he exclaimed something like, “I thought these were going to have more contrast. Like the iPhoto ones. Why did we get this kind of card again? Ugh.”
But I’m not looking for my card to be memorable. We’ve already received those this year. The newlywed couple with the hysterically funny grimacing baby on their lap, the beautiful beach shot with the card shaped like a round ornament complete with bow, the sepia tinted scene of a whole family dressed like 1920’s gangstas down to the fringed flapper dresses and the boys holding old-school machine guns, and then there’s the Florence Cathedral/Grand Canyon backdrops. (You know who you are.) We can’t compete with that.
No, what I’m aiming for is what my high school besty achieved. Her card is of simple design, one group photo of her three gorgeous kids next to a large snowflake and the words Season’s Greetings. Except the photo is totally dark and out of focus and one of her girls’ arms is at an oddly broken angle and her newly-minted teenage son has a black hoodie pulled over his head so you can’t really make out his face… sort of like the uni-bomber without the glasses. This uber-Mama, part-time professor, snack shack tender, on-time car pooler, world’s best godmother, devoted daughter and amazing friend totally whiffed her Christmas card.
And the part that made me laugh out loud as tears glistened in my eyes was the note she’d printed on her computer in red and green ink, cut out hurriedly and glued to the back.
Sorry this year’s picture is a little off. The picture seemed fantastic on my phone. When I got the cards, I realized that you can’t really see Ryan’s face and everyone is a little fuzzy. Unfortunately, a retake seemed unlikely between work, school, wrestling, dance, piano, tennis, indoor field hockey and also some family fun. Here’s to a New Year of clarity and focus and another chance to get it right!
So this week I sat and went through that wedding list of addresses, but in my mind. And then I wrote down every address, but from WhitePages.com, which made me feel like a detective or like the lady from Murder She Wrote, but less peppy.
And then I addressed every card with a tiny note and signature inside, stamped them with return addresses even though our street name never shows up, stuck the Forever stamp of the gingerbread house in the corner and sent them off. I may have even dipped my finger in my mojito in order to wet and seal the back of some of the envelopes. Go ahead, judge me.
In German the saying goes, Als ich kann. It’s my favorite. Loosely translated this means, the best I can do. I say it every day.
Sometimes a tiny little family report on a blurry Christmas card is the best we can do. Trust me. And that’s enough. “Here’s to a New Year of clarity and focus and another chance to get it right.” Amen, sister.
And for 2014, when you don’t get it right, remember, Als ich kann. Als. Ich. Kann.