For long stretches, the boys turned from bodies-in-motion to bodies-in-wonder as they stood out in the waves and watched the ocean water crashing in upon their legs. I’m sure they squealed at the wonder of it all, but their noises did not reach me as I sat on the sand. I marveled at the scene. The waves were powerful forces that represented equal parts wonder and danger. But the boys did not waver before the waves for they held their father’s hand.
Holding my father’s hand, I have learned that strength is both fought for (feet pounding upon pavement for miles) and received (hands open in humility). Not sought for its own sake, strength is nurtured for the process of creating something true, something beautiful, and something enduring for the world to enjoy. My father has been my gardener who cultivates within me curiosity for life’s mysteries, appreciation for humanity’s story, and the practice of sowing kindness lavishly over all soil. I am who I am because I have held my father’s hand.
Holding my husband’s hand, I have learned that life is better lived in collaboration. Alone, I can ensure the survival of our sons. Together, we can ensure the flourishing of them. He is my partner with whom we are crazy enough to believe that we can raise these boys no matter what the day brings. He is steadfast and content in a way that tempers my intensity. He nurtures the boys’ courage to take risks and exemplifies fidelity to his commitments. Our boys are becoming who they are because they hold their father’s hands.
The waves are full of wonder and full of danger, but hand-in-hand we persist and are transformed.
For all the fathers who hold hands, I pause and give thanks.
Hey brother. Hey brother. Hey brother.
Wherever our two brothers roam, these words show up. Spoken from the mouth of the oldest, they are words meant to unite them upon observation of an interesting thing or participation in a daring act. They are the words meant to allow the oldest the joy of inviting another to take part in shared delight. They are the words our youngest have heard from day one as the main words of orientation around this new and foreign world before him.
They usually come in repetitions of five or more because the youngest either hears white noise due to their regularity or simply to attest to the power of the youngest’s focus on what is before him. But eventually they catch his attention (spoken right into his ear with oldest waving arms before his face) and upon registering the invitation, the two brothers become one being. Continue reading
Amidst my two weeks of travel, a bird has set up its nest right outside our back door. Perched atop the lamp post, with bits of mulch and sticks and even a little recycling, Momma Bird sits atop her eggs waiting for their lives to come to be.
I can’t help but wonder if Momma Bird regrets her choice of nest location. For at least five times a day, the door opens right by those fragile little ones in order to send our beagle out back to use the bathroom dig holes.
It’s not only vulnerable. It’s risky. It’s dangerous. It’s almost painful to know how much life’s security and future hangs in the balance every time.
Where once he lay quietly while staring at me and discovering this world, he wiggles and lurches and almost tumbles off. I wrangle clothes on him and stand him up on the changing table to pull his pants up. Before I am even ready, he lunges into me, wrapping arms around my neck. Squeezing me, he exclaims joy in his indecipherable words straight into ear with his wet kiss staining my cheek.
I set him down on the ground and he bounds towards the toys. He plays with abandon. As I move rooms to continue the morning routine, he follows me. He brings me objects of interest – balls, trucks, airplanes, and markers left on the floor by brother who is furiously composing his next book (Mater Tales, part 4). Desperately trying to speak, he waits for me to confirm the objects’ name and respond with his ritualistic, “right.” A verification that he’s on the right track. Or perhaps a quiz to make sure mommy still has it to together.
My two boys,
A spring Saturday with Daddy on call on Louisville’s most accident-prone days, I knew it was a day for the three of us. I indulged myself with a 6:45 am alarm. You slept in enough for coffee to be made, eggs to be scrambled, and my eyes to open enough to greet the day happy at its arrival. I vowed that this Saturday, I would try to truly honor a Sabbath. I would not attempt to accomplish anything other than be with the two of you.
This is not to say being your mother is a restful task. You failed at sharing within moments of playing together and you squealed when things didn’t go your way. As I make my way through this journey with you as your mother, I give of myself, my personhood and my body, my daily tasks and my daily worries as means to grant you life, sustain that life within you, and nourish its growth.
I fill my days rushing around, worshiping the gods of efficiency and productivity. I thrive off of checking the boxes on my to-do list and I plan my day down the hour. I value a clean house and an empty counter.
So when the morning comes with the child hot with fever, my whole day feels ruined and I spend the next hours attempting to work and watch kids, aware that any attempt to juggle kids, my computer, and all the germs spreading is impossible.
Every Christmas, we pack up our lives and pile up the gifts. We drive south on I-65 and we begin our Christmas circuit that takes us all over the state. From house to house, we drag all our items out of the car (an obscene amount no matter the length of stay thanks to the little ones). Drew distributes and unpacks while I begin the vigilant watch of our 4 year old and 20 month old in new territory. Suddenly everything seems breakable or a choking hazard.
Christmas with two young ones is exhausting. Chasing them around leaves me so tired that 9:00 p.m. sounds like a perfectly acceptable bedtime. Watching them in new environments is a game of risk, a test of multi-tasking abilities while maintaining conversation, and a sport of trying to communicate with Drew through mere hand signals or looks that clearly say, “It’s your turn! I need a break!” Mitigating negotiation-deals with the four-year-old at every Christmas meal is always humbling while we sit in front of those who prepared the meal. He contorts his face and says in the whiniest, most pitiful voice he can muster, “I don’t like this. How many bites do I have to eat?” We unwrap presents and I practice my telepathy as I send eye-signals to the oldest to not immediately blurt out “we already have that” or “I don’t like that” or the most obnoxious, “Where are more presents?”
And yet, Christmas with two young ones warms the jaded adult heart like nothing else. Christmas morning in striped matching PJs, the boys jump up and down with un-matched glee as they see the stockings. From house to house, we get to watch our grandparents be great-grandparents to our boys. Our youngest’s shyness dissipates and he begins cackling and playing games with everyone. He plays peek-a-book, freezes, and shows his mean face. To watch my boys be known and loved by family – it is the greatest gift. Continue reading