Friday, September 27, 2013

An Anniversary Story (A Few Days Early)

One night when I was 24, I heard my roommate come home after a night out with co-workers. I was already in bed but wanted to hear about her night. She mentioned everyone who was there, including this one “weird” guy who didn't talk much and kept to himself. Sweet but a bit gawky, he was more apt to pine over someone than to date them. He was tall and skinny with a face that said “character actor” instead of leading man.

“I love him,” I thought, rolling over and nestling into my pillow. The thought came instantly and involuntarily—about a guy I had never met, about a guy who was “no one’s” type. My roommate continued to tell her story, but I just heard white noise and saw her lips move. My heart felt like it was expanding to fill every corner of my body. It was completely irrational; completely unlike me and my usual level-headed self. I laughed it off and went to sleep, but some time later I discovered this gut reaction was true. I guess you could say my soul knew waaaaay before my head knew that I loved JAR.

Truth be told, this kind of “involuntary” love can be a very challenging love. While there are things you like and admire about this person—like their kindness, their wit—you don’t necessarily love them for their personality or their values or their ambitions. It’s not about common ground or money or great abs. Simply put, you are deeply and undeniably drawn to this person and can’t imagine your world without them. You don’t discuss kids, goals, or long-term plans (though it's probably not a bad idea). You just take a deep breath, close your eyes, and let it unfold.

There are fights and disillusionment and cultural differences and communication breakdowns. But there are also moments of magic when you realize that this is the exact person you needed in order to grow in a specific area; to shine a light on the dark spots and reveal the real you. This is the person you were built for.

And so, you say THANK YOU—laying in bed, riding the bus, shopping for groceries—you say it multiple times in a row, before slipping back into everyday concerns. “Thank you,” you repeat, pushing it out from your core, into the ether.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Three and a Half

Lately you’ve been asking if you’re 4 yet, and now I can tide you over by saying you’re halfway there! Tomorrow’s 3 ½ birthday plans include going to the beach if the weather holds out, and giving you your first “big girl” bike after daddy puts it together. You rode it so proudly when we tested it out at Toys R Us the other day, sitting tall and rounding the aisles on the store model’s wobbly training wheels. “Look, mommy…look, daddy…I’m doing it!” you said.

You are growing into such a poised and assured little girl, understanding the world a little more each day. Recently I took you for your first pedicure and you sat in the chair with your back perfectly straight, body perfectly still, as you took everything in. You didn’t say a word the whole time but you kept glancing back and forth between my feet and yours as they were being pampered, big brown eyes glowing with wonder, a subtle smile on your lips.

You are understated for the most part, but sometimes you have moments of pure theatricality that come out of nowhere and make us do a double take. Picture yourself standing in front of your musical princess castle in your room, belting out a soulful rendition of Princess Tiana’s “Almost There,” with a hip jutted out and a hand towards the heavens like a mini gospel singer. 

You love to sing, and I know I’m biased as your mommy, but I think you’re a natural. Sometimes you switch up the melody of popular songs to create pleasing variations, and when I ask you where that came from you say, “I’m just doing it in my own voice.” Your favorites are Disney princess songs, but you also like to sit at your small piano and work on “originals,” closing your eyes and feeling the music.

While you’re looking and acting more like a big girl every day, certain little moments remind me that you still possess shades of “baby”—like when you refuse to sleep in your own bed or give up your nightly milk. Or when you cling to my leg at parties and turn mute in front of strangers. Or when we enrolled you in soccer and you preferred to sit on my lap sipping juice instead of kicking the ball down the field, drill style. (Let’s never speak of it again and just stick with swimming and gymnastics, shall we?)

My favorite moments with you are the little ones. “Get in your spot, mommy,” you say, “and I’ll get in my spot.” We sit side by side on my bed, and look for games and YouTube videos on my laptop. You put your head on my shoulder and I notice that your hair feels kind of like YOU – half smooth and polished, half rough and wild. “I love you, mommy,” you say. “I love you, too, best friend,” I say. And I mean it.