The cards I missed
I’d just picked up my wedding gown when I dropped off my car for servicing in late September 2013.
I meant to transfer the gown to my husband’s car, but couldn’t do so without first showing it to P, the mechanic who always seems to help me when my car has troubles.
She loved my dress. She wished me a happy wedding and all the best for my baby-to-come, then only visible as the slightest belly bump.
Since we last parted ways, I’ve been wed and had a baby and celebrated my husband’s promotion to assisting directing and left my old job and started a new one. I’ve probably put at least 20,000 miles on my car, who treats me well though I let her languish in untidiness and without hubcap covers or driver side door handle.
All these big changes have really been many sequences of smaller changes, so that I sometimes forget life was ever something than what it is right now. Until, standing in line to pick up my car from the mechanic today, I locked eyes with P for a moment before hers rolled toward the tiny man in my arm. Until she briefly ignored the customer she was assisting to proclaim his perfection as he writhed and giggled at the attention.
Seeing my life–albeit briefly–through her eyes reminded me how much has changed since we last saw each other.
That bump she could barely see in late 2013 is now an almost ten-month-old baby, Littler J. He loves me and his daddy, but it’s his older brother, Li’l D, who really gets him going. He howls with laughter whenever he catches sight of five-year-old Li’l D, as if to say in his pre-word way, “I don’t know what shenanigans you’re about to pull, but I know there will be shenanigans, and I endorse them!”
My husband told Li’l D for months that everything would change once his baby brother got more mobile. “He won’t need this much of our attention forever!” he’d say. “He’ll want to follow you everywhere and won’t want as much to do with us!” This is coming true now, as Littler J hurtles after his brother as fast as four limbs will carry him. Li’l D is less grumpy about this second-child business now he sees his little brother is truly his number one fan.
I snap at Li’l D so much more than I did when he was my only child and practically my world. And yet, as he climbs into my lap with books he remembers from our earliest days reading together, I know he sees me for more than my less than stellar parenting moments. “He knows how much you love him,” says my husband often, prompting me each time to think how I still feel my mom’s love many years after I lost her first to mental illness and later to death. I don’t need to be perfect, remembering her reminds me. I do need to show my love, say sorry, and continue taking small steps toward the patience that came naturally to me one year ago.
I thought my husband worked long and hard as a Production Assistant, but he’s been working twice as hard as an Assistant Director. We’re barely awake in each other’s presence these days. When we are, it’s to wonder groggily when we might next spend quality time together.
Seeing these things and so many more as I stood with P this afternoon, I was elated. But how? Why?
Day to day, I see every little bit of grime and mistake it for all there is.
Today, I saw–through P’s eyes–my day to day now through a lens of then.
And I saw how beautiful it is. How the hard work and the toothy baby smiles and the long drives and the don’tyoudaredothatagains and the bedtime snuggles and morning cups of coffee courtesy Li’l D and the cursing at my Portuguese CDs (wondering how I’m supposed to repeat words I can’t seem to even hear right) and the amazing sunsets to my left as I crawl toward my sons’ school in molasses traffic and the exhaustion and the hope and the pondering what’s to come and the savoring these moments we have together is life. How it’s breathtaking when seen for everything it is instead of only its smallest, weariest parts.
Through P’s eyes, I saw it all. I held my baby close and felt an exultant thank you in everything.
As if to affirm my just-typed thank you, Li’l D flew through the front door. “I went to the arcade with Daddy. Look how many cards I got!” he shouted. “I got so many cards!”
His daddy is now tucking him into bed. And me? I’m smiling, oh how I’m smiling, as I think of P and marvel at all the cards I failed to see right in front of me.