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little boys laughing

I awaken at 3:30 each weekday morning, do an hour of work, and then spend one rushed hour getting ready with my kids. I’m then in traffic for an hour or so before beginning my full workday.

Yesterday, I had an early doctor appointment. Instead of rushing out the door, I spent two and a half hours hanging out with my kids. I helped my older son, Li’l D, scramble an egg before snuggling with him on the couch and reading Charlotte’s Web aloud. I walked him through homework corrections and then, after my three-year-old (Littler J) was really awake, laughed at the sounds of my little boys racing through the house while hollering their mirth.

I grinned the whole way to the doctor’s office. It was just such a perfect morning!

After my appointment, I called my husband to tell him how it’d gone. It turned out he was at the grocery store on the same block as the doctor’s office, so I met him in the store. I savored the weight of Littler’s hand in mine as my husband pushed the shopping cart. Littler made an adventure of even a shopping trip, so that I beamed the whole way through the trip. 

As we parted ways in the parking lot, I told my husband that the morning had been absolutely perfect. I said I’d have to make a point to do this more often on the weekday. Once a month, maybe?!

I grinned as I began my late drive to the office.

Nine years ago, before I had an inkling I was on the verge of parenthood, my perfect morning involved a couple of hours of World of Warcraft and then a six- or seven-shot latte en route to work. On the very best mornings, I’d spend a little time staring at the ceiling and daydreaming about the weekend, too. 

My perfect morning is so much different now than it was then. It’s busier and louder by far now, but, oh! It is ever so much more full of love, and–best of all–little boys’ peals of laughter.

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If Earth were heaven

My two-year-old, Littler J, really likes to dance.

If he hears more than a couple of notes of any tune, he turns to me and asks, “Wanna dance wif me?!”

He just now busted moves with his toy pig, which made me smile as I remembered a few minutes from last night.

“Final countdown!” shouted my seven-year-old, Li’l D, as he played with Baymax, a Captain America shield, and a motorcycle.

“Final countdown,” I sang back.

“What’s that?” he asked.

“It’s an … old … song. Here, let me play it for you.”

I played the song, which he found highly unimpressive.

Autoplay moved to “Eye of the Tiger” next. (Of course it did.) Strangely, Littler barely seemed to notice.

But then? Then “Living on a Prayer” came on. Littler’s face lit up and he called, “Wanna dance wif me?!”

We bounced around the living room hand in hand until the last minute of the song, when my husband took over as Littler’s dance partner.

I surveyed the two for a moment, smiling at the wonderful, silly scene before me.

Do I wanna dance wif my boys? Why, if Earth were heaven,
I’d spend every second doing just that.

happy run

Prescribing Joy: Letting the good times roll

Catherine (Ten Thousand Hour Mama) and I became blog friends after a mutual acquaintance shared one of her posts with me. We’ve only met once in person, but meet in heart/words as often as our demanding schedules enable.

She blogs about motherhood–the good, the bad, and the messy enough to require a garden hose. She lives in Oregon with her husband, two girls and dog. For craft ideas, parenting tips and the reassuring knowledge that you’re not the only one who swears in front of the littles, read along or follow on Facebook and Twitter.

prescribing joy

Letting the good times roll

The other day I met a friend and her kids at a park across town. The playground sat at the top of an enormous hill. Peeper, my almost-three-year-old, watched as my friend’s kids rolled down the hill, giggling.

“Do you want to give it a try, too?” I asked my daughter. She is sometimes shy around other kids, often preferring to talk with adults or older children.

“Yes,” she finally said.

Another little girl tried to explain the mechanics of rolling down the hill. Peeper watched and tried it herself, but she still had a hard time.

“Mama, will you show me?” she asked.

I’m not sure about you, but the last time I rolled down a hill was circa 1990. But I’d do just about anything for my munchkin, so I got down on the grass. I lay down on my side. And I started to roll.

As the world spun around me and I gained momentum, I began to laugh. Really laugh. Within a few revolutions I was laughing with complete abandon.

I came to a stop where the hill leveled out and I sat up. I looked to the top of the hill, still laughing. Peeper was watching me, a big smile on her face. My friend and her kids were grinning, too. Unsteadily, I got to my feet and walked up the hill to help her do the same.

Seeing an old hill-roller helped her figure out how to do it herself. She liked it, but she was content to stop after a few gos. She moved on to climbing the spider web-like ropes and zipping down the slide.

We didn’t stay much longer; we drove home for lunch, my almost-one-year-old’s naps and the more mundane parts of the day.

Later in the day, I squirmed as I felt something poke my back. I took off my sweatshirt and pulled out a sharp piece of grass—leftovers from my roll. I smiled, temporarily transported back to the sunny morning.

For just a few seconds, I had given in to the freedom of being a child. I had followed an impulse (it was my daughter’s, not mine, but still—it was spontaneous). I had let go of a grown-up’s inhibitions (What do you mean adults don’t roll down hills? Watch me!). And I had enjoyed something pure and joyful.

Here’s where a grown-up’s filters kick in. You rolled down a hill; you didn’t do anything spectacular, a voice in my head chides me. You’re reading too much into it. Get over yourself.

In some ways, its very un-spectacular-ness is why a 32-year-old rolling down a hill is so wonderful. Because there’s nothing remarkable about a kid letting go and doing something just for the fun of it.

We could all stand to be un-spectacular like that. My girls constantly experience the joy in the moment: Peeper paints her entire body with watercolors because she likes the patterns and the tickly feeling on her skin. Lately Kiwi pauses in her play to lay her head down on the ground, we think just to feel the sensation of whatever is below her: carpet, our dog’s back, the wet pavement at the splash pad.

That’s what I did on the park hill, if even for just a few seconds. I let go—of judgment, of ideas of what I “should” do, of the separation that keeps us parents on the ground instead of on the monkey bars. As gravity took over and pulled me down the hill, I gave up control.

I won’t spend every day rolling down hills—or pulling pokey sticks and grass out of my clothes. That’s ok. But every so often, even for just a few seconds, I’ll surrender to the joyous momentum of living and laughing like a child.

last : Joy Is | Joy : next

Proud to be you

June 6, 2016 Comments off
Catherine, Peeper, Littler J and me last summer

Catherine, Peeper, Littler and me 

Catherine and I met over ice cream when my younger son, now two, was only a few months old.

I’m sure the ice cream was great, but I don’t honestly remember it. What I do remember from our meeting is the feeling of being free to be exactly as I was, all the good, the bad, and the messy, without fear of judgment or admonition.

In fact, if Catherine were here, she’d tell me I’m not actually a terrible mother because I snapped at my older son for not giving me just-three-for-the-love-of-god-three-little minutes to write a teensy-eensy post without being harangued.

This isn’t supposition, either. Compassion for ourselves as mothers is something she and I have discussed across many blogs. (See, e.g., this related post she inspired.)

Please visit me over at Catherine’s place today, and stick around to see why the very thought of her makes me smile. Why this particular love letter could only have been inspired by and shared in a place of such compassion, wisdom, and love.

 

Beyond where stars twinkle

I held
my sister’s hand
on her sofa in Portland
(and also Metropolis)
as we finished watching
The Man of Steel

I thought how
wondrous it is how
we humans create
such marvelous
fictional problems,
and (often)
even
better
solutions

Where filmmakers
and authors fail,
others offer
alternatives,
numbering
dozens,
hundreds,
and even thousands

How hopeful!

We humans
are good at
creating problems
but we are also
innovative
about resolving them,
politics usually excluded Read more…

His own messes

Two years
and three hours ago,
I met my littlest boy
on the tenth anniversary
of my meeting his dad.

I thought,
“No problemo,
I already have one
great kid, so this will
be a piece of cake!”

(As if two souls
could be exactly alike,
and Littler was just
another Li’l … )

The last two years
(and three hours)
have involved a steep
learning curve,
for Littler is not just
a smaller Li’l, and
there is less of me
all around
to go around.

I have often
asked myself how
my own mom could
raise four kids by herself
when I could barely manage two,
with a partner.

But the premise is wrong,
the question is wrong,
and I have done
myself wrong
by not reframing
the question sooner.

For two years,
I have had the pleasure
of loving my chocolate-
and truck-adoring littlest one,
and cherished seeing
him playing with
his older brother.

I have (mostly)
enjoyed learning,
practically speaking,
that no two souls are the same,
and also that my capacities
for exhaustion and love alike
are far greater than I could
have imagined two years
and a day ago.

Today I celebrate
two years of my
too-early riser,
and wonder what all
I will learn–about
Littler, and life–
in the two years ahead.

But mostly, I rejoice
the little one who makes messes
wherever he goes, and laughs so
heartily while making them that
it’s impossible (mostly)
to be mad at him
for learning about
this messy world
by making his
own messes.

image

Happy birthday, sweet sweets-lover

The truth in wrinkles

I took a picture
of my godmother laughing
with my older son, and
told her how much
I loved it.

She was more critical,
seeing not her laughter,
nor her abundant love,
but the lines
on her
face.

“That reminds me,”
I told her, “of a time
I saw Mom gazing at
her reflection in her
bathroom mirror.”

My godmother
interrupted me.

“You’re about to do
that thing where
you make me cry,
aren’t you?” Read more…

Categories: Family, Love, Personal Tags: , , , , , ,
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