This past Saturday evening my home was full of guests. My husband is a campus minister, and we're accustomed to having college students in and out of our house on a regular basis. Some have lived with us between apartment leases; many others have shared meals with us. Rarely does anyone knock. They enter, kick off their shoes at the door, toss their jackets onto the couch, and sidle into the kitchen like they belong, which is quite accurate: they do belong.
I love that my daughters can experience this interaction.
At the onset of the evening, though, I kept watching the girls to make sure that they weren't getting into trouble or bothering anyone. My attention was divided between hosting and parenting. It didn't need to be.
Sometimes it's good to remember that other people genuinely enjoy my kids. Occasionally the best parenting I can do is to temporarily step out of the way.
Reese tackled one of the students, an adventure-loving senior in ROTC, and roped him into a game of hide and seek and, from what I could discern, some form of Mixed Martial Arts. (She knocked the wind out of him, he later admitted, impressed.) Later in the evening when she was more subdued before bedtime, she sat on the couch next to a well-bearded student, one who several days into December still sported the results of No-Shave November, and listened as he read story after story to her. A girl asked to hold the baby even before she removed her jacket. Another boy patiently answered "yes" each time Brooke asked if he would like to see her band aid -- easily a dozen times -- and showed genuine concern each time she pointed to where she got her shot.
That's when I eased into the night. With everyone looking after my own children, I sat down, grabbed a few cookies, and simply enjoyed the full house.