Wednesday, February 20, 2013

So Small You Just Might Miss It

There are moments in life that are so incredible, so special, and so momentous that you just might miss them.  Not all of life's greatest moments come with fireworks; sometimes they come with a whisper and if you're not paying attention you just might miss them.

Two of our very best friends welcomed their first child into the world on Monday.  Little Charlie has joined a large extended family of "aunts" and "uncles" who will adore him and teach him how to be a first class geek, artist, and friend.  We went to visit the new little family late in the afternoon on Tuesday.  It was a blustery day, wind and snow whipping all around, but in the glow of that little hospital room all I felt was warm.  The room was only a couple of doors down from where I spent my first couple of nights with Jack and Trevor.  The view of the snowy parking ramp outside brought back memories of a snowy, blustery day two years ago.

"Go see Aunt Nancy", my amazing friend, the new mama, said as she handed over a little bundle of strawberry blonde hair and deep blue eyes to me.  My heart burst into a thousand happy pieces at this first introduction to my new nephew.  Holding a newborn baby is quite possibly one of the greatest joys any of us can experience.   Any problem you faced that day, any obstacle or hurdle instantly vanishes when you touch that brand new skin.  Somehow all of that hope and promise that a new baby brings is transferred to you and for a few brief moments you feel like anything is possible.

Trevor took his turn with Charlie and remarked to me today how he noticed that he automatically fell into the baby sway with him, gently rocking him to and fro setting into a pose long abandoned in favor of lugging a toddler around on his hip.  It's been a long time since I saw Trevor sway with a baby and once again I was taken back to our own room, two years ago and seeing the guy who was once merely my crush cradle our child for the first time.  

On the way home we talked about our own baby who continues to grow inside of me.  How easy it is to forget that babies start out so small when your world becomes occupied by a 33 lb. ball of energy and noise.  That ball of crazy-happy-fun-times started out as a 5 lb 14 oz peanut (a nickname he retains to this day).  I wonder now as I type this if I allowed myself to enjoy those fleeting weeks of his babyhood to their fullest extent.  I like to think I did and although I have a thousand pictures of those days, it's just so easy to forget new baby smell and silky skin until you're pleasantly reminded of it when holding a newborn again.  

After the hospital, we picked up Jack from daycare.  I rang the doorbell and when he saw me through the glass door his face burst into a Cheshire Cat grin and he took off in a full sprint toward me.  By the time I got in he had jumped up into my arms, his arms and legs wrapped around me like a Velcro monkey.  We kissed and hugged and my heart burst all over again.  Picking up Jack and having our little family reunited again each night is the best part of every day.

Later that night, the 3 of us climbed up the stairs for Jack's bedtime ritual.  Trevor laid on the futon buried in books, I awkwardly laid down next to him, my growing belly making it awkward to do most things these days.  Instead of laying down next to us, Jack climbed up on me and as I propped myself up with throw pillows, Jack lied down across my belly.  I held him there twisting his damp post-bath hair in my fingers while Trevor read us stories.  His head rested on my chest so I know he could hear the thumping of my heart.  All of a sudden, Jack's brother starting squirming and kicking.  Unbeknownst to Jack his brother was kicking right there underneath him, both of them listening to my heart, both of them occupying a very large portion of it.  A year from now they'll both be listening to their dad's bedtime stories laying side by side, which is exactly what they did last night for the very first time.

The world is filled with so many tiny moments of pure joy that I fear sometimes I'm missing them.  Brand new strawberry blonde hair, the sight of your husband holding the beloved firstborn son of his best friend, the look of a new dad- exhausted but overcome with admiration and love for his wife and their new baby, the sound of Spider-Man sneakers running across a hardwood floor toward your waiting arms, and the feel of your two children holding space together even when neither is aware of the other's presence.  

So many small and sacred moments can make up a day.  I am so grateful that on February 19, 2013, I was able to hold them all and be present for them.  Somehow all of these whispers exploded like fireworks on my heart.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Love in All Its Many Forms

I went back to re-read a blog I posted last year on Valentine's Day.  I was instantly taken back to that pharmacy waiting room where I held Jack on my lap waiting for his prescription to be filled, grateful for this blog because I might not have ever remembered that moment were it not for it being documented here.  As a funny side note, last year Jack celebrated Valentine's Day by sporting pink eyes.  This year he nearly celebrated Valentine's Day by having to take pink amoxicillin due to a little bout of scarlet fever.  This child is nothing if he's not festive.

Valentine's Day is my favorite holiday.  I want my children to love Valentine's Day although I know it's a long shot.  I am in the minority of people who love and treasure this day.  My hope is that both of my children find love in all aspects of their lives- a loving partner, faithful friends, adoring children someday.  So in honor of love in all its many forms and the love Jack has for watching movies with his mom and dad, I thought I would present here:

The Top 5 Most Loving Movie Couples

5.  Wall-E & EVE- A tribute to my sweet little Jack.  Wall-E is currently one of  his favorite movies.  When EVE shuts down Jack looks at the screen and says "Uh-oh Wall-E".  Somehow he knows that the loss of a love like that is reason to feel sad.  And my little guy smiles ecstatically when they are reunited.  When Wall-E and EVE go sailing across the sky behind a stream of fire extinguisher spray I feel as if I'm sailing with them buzzing with the glow of new found love.

4.  Andy & Red- The Shawshank Redemption is one of the most beloved movies of all time.  Interestingly enough, it lost the Best Picture Oscar in 1995 to Forrest Gump.  If this movie came out this year I think it would shut out the competition.  Times have changed in the past 18 years and things are a bit rougher than they were in the mid-90s.  People need hope and they long for the type of friendship that Andy and Red share.  What this movie couple shows me is that the greatest friendships are the ones that keep your hope alive- hope in the world, hope in humanity, hope in yourself.  These are the friendships (minus the jail time) that I hope for my boys.  I find I'm so excited that I can barely sit still or hold a thought in my head. I think it's the excitement only a free man can feel. A free man at a start of a long journey whose conclusion is uncertain. I hope I can make it across the border. I hope to see my friend and shake his hand. I hope the pacific is as blue as it has been in my dreams. I hope. 

3.  Luke Skywalker & Yoda- This entry is clearly in honor of my darling geek husband and while I'm sure he'd have put Han and Leia on this list, I have to give props to Luke and Yoda even if theirs is a very non-traditional love story.  You see, both Trevor and I are teachers.  He works in a public school and I work in a corporate setting, but both of us take great pride in what we do.  Teachers are often called heroes and so much of what a teacher does is heroic.  But we are all the heroes of our own lives, our own stories.  What if the teacher wasn't the hero?  What if the student was the hero, the Luke Skywalker and the teacher was the Yoda, the guide who provides a tool or a way to remove an obstacle in order for the hero to achieve success?  Luke: "I do not believe it."  Yoda: "That is why you fail."  Yoda sticks by Luke in the face of Luke's most adamant resistance in the same way teachers walk back into the classroom every single day in an act of love.  Not necessarily for love of their students, but love of their communities and the promise that these students hold to shape them.

2.  Carl & Ellie Frederick- Yes, another Pixar couple, but as Pixar makes up a large portion of my world these days, I have grown excessively fond of these characters.  And it's true what they say- Pixar made a better love story in the first 15 minutes of Up than Twilight did in 5 full movies.  What Carl and Ellie teach me is that life will throw us obstacles that will break our hearts in pieces.  We can let life break us or we can find a new adventure. Carl learns this all over again after the loss of his wife plummets his world into a pretty dark place.  It's through the love of Russell, a little Wilderness Explorer that he finds his way again.  When he pins the Ellie badge on Russell's Wilderness Explorer sash I am helpless to hold back the tears.

1.  Dumbo & Mama Jumbo- Mama Jumbo in her pink bonnet and blue shawl is the picture of maternal kindness and serenity.  But when those boys bully her baby she is willing to take down an entire circus crew, ropes, whips and all to protect her boy.  There is something so real and honest about that scene that speaks to the heart of every mother who knows that she won't always be there to protect her babies which only heightens her need to protect them while she can.  And Dumbo speaks to every mother who sees her child as perfect despite flaws that only the rest of the world can see.  When I sing "Baby Mine" to Jack at night, I notice that with each passing day it's harder to cradle him in my arms.  His growing limbs dangle off the rocking chair and yet somehow we still manage to fit together.  I marvel at the fact that he was once small enough to fit snugly inside of me, in the same place his brother now occupies.  Time keeps moving forward, his limbs will keep growing longer and his desire to be rocked to sleep will someday wane.  So I enjoy these moments while I have them.

When Valentine's Day comes each year, resist the urge to hate it, resent it, loathe it, or dismiss it.  Because if we really look for it, love is all around us, in many forms, in many places, in many people and it's worth celebrating.