what we did.

someday,
when this year is more a weird piece of the past & less of the raw right now,
Nixon’s going to ask us what it was like.

he’s going to ask us what we did.

I’m going to tell him
about how we took it one day at a time,
because any more than that felt like the stomach-drop of getting too close to a steep drop-off;

that, for a good long while, it felt like everything was poised right at the end of that drop, actually.

I’ll tell him that we tried so hard to find the balance between knowing enough,
and reading so much that it all started to sound like angry, anxious noise;

that, in the midst of all that felt scary and uncertain,
we found love & light & blissful normalcy in the simplicity of each other.

we chased sunshine & colored;
slow-danced beside bedroom bookshelves;
breathed deep and went barefoot,
and checked in & loved up on our people as often as we could.

we went on a lot of walks and took nearly as many drives to nowhere,
creating our own soundtrack as we took turns picking songs along the way.

we had car picnics,
and couch book parties,
and, most nights, were all in pajamas by 7 p.m.

in a year that tried to take so much,
I want to remember that we held on so tightly & fought so relentlessly to keep hope
optimism
love
patience
& a strong grip on our ability to find magic wherever we could.

and, because of that—

—we did.

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dear nixon: vol. 21

the sum of our ordinary days is made up of sunrise cereal & mason jars of iced coffee;
countertop car races, mornings not-quite-light yet, and wood floors worn in by a thousand stories.

I’d swear you came away from autumn a full foot taller,
more sunshine scattered through your hair.

Every day, you weave us a new adventure.

Tonight, it was repurposing the paper from inside an Amazon box to play “presents“, a game dedicated to taking turns wrapping up various treasures from around the room
and proudly presenting them to one another;
yesterday, the bed was our boat, purposefully loaded with a two-piece semi truck, your fishing pole, and no less than five Hot Wheels cars.

I watch you pull these worlds from thin air and spin them to life, and I marvel at what a brilliant magician you are;
the beautiful ways your mind sees the world, and the stories you create from it.

  • I have FUR! I have always wanted to have FUR!” – joyous exclamation from the back seat upon noticing your own leg hair
  • Mama: “What do you want to do when it’s your birthday?”
    Nixon: “Well, I think I’d like to celebrate at the grocery store.”
  • What color is YOUR imagination, mama? Mine is pink and blue.” – asked with eyes squeezed shut
  • HEY DADA! BOYS HAVE A PENIS, girls have A VAGINA! Did you forget?!?” – exclaimed brightly, and very loudly, as a couple walked past us in the very echo-y mall food court

Tucked in together in the cozy bedtime dark,
your little hand reaches over and gently rests on my wrist.

It’s so I remember you are here,” you whisper, snuggling in.

To “here” in all its forms, my love, in the very best ways I know how.


mama

summer, so far.

at three-and-just-past-half,
you are such a big soul that, every so often,
it’s easy to forget you’re still small.

 

you are pockets full of rocks and the smell of sunshine;
leaps and climbs and practice fishing casts from the middle of the kitchen table;
a thousand stories prefaced by, “Can I tell you some’fing?!“,
a million, “Hey, mama?“-s,
Spider-Man jams and scraped-up knees.

I love that, on the weekends, still half-draped in sleep weight,
you’ll tumble out of the bedroom and come straight to where I am.

Sleepily, slowly,
you tuck yourself in against me;
arm stretching out like an anchor across my chest,
cheek cuddled against me,
your breath still the even, steady measure of midafternoon dreams.

It’s a song we’ve written together without even realizing;
words we’ve memorized through years of post-nap slow dances.

You have your part and I have mine,
seamlessly woven together across a living room brilliant in winterlight,
tinted with the sunwash of spring,
warmed by midsummer sunshine,
painted with the subtle hush of fall.

  • (while pooping) “Can we read ‘da colors book? Then it will make my poop surprised, and it will come out!
  • Now, when I dance, my sleeves won’t fall off!” – your thoughts on wearing a tank top
  • Nixon: “Someday, I want to go to South Dakota.
    Mama: “Cool, man, what do you wanna do there?
    Nixon (shrugging): “I just want to see if there’s some furniture to sit on.
  • I have tried this before. It worked out.” – on why you need a clothespin
  • (with a refreshing sigh, upon returning to the water after the mandatory break at the pool) “I feel like myself again!
  • If I pooped in here, the water would taste like cucumbers and quesadilla.” – very cheerfully mid-swim, also at said pool
  • (bailing mid-conversation, upon noticing a new kid has arrived at the park) “THERE IS A FRIEND THAT NEEDS MET

Your sense of excitement, much like your mama’s, knows no bounds.

When you find, see, hear, or read something you love, it’s of the utmost importance that THIS SPECIFIC NEW EXCITEMENT IS SHARED WITH OTHERS—
including, but not limited to:
bites of food
lines from movies
ants
rocks
water, particularly if there is a chance it can be fished
the way the sky looks
and, most recently: an ultra-gigantic koi in the pond at the park.

Like.
You legitimately chased down a grown-ass man (shouting, “HEY, MAN! HEY, LITTLE FELLA!”) to ensure he was aware of this fish’s existence.

Fish are a thousand percent your jam right now anyway, but the fact this one was gigantic, orange, AND nearby?

You were in awe
and so thrilled by its presence, you wanted to make sure everyone in the vicinity shared this joy with you.

Whether it was big kids, babies, families, random old people, awkward teenagers… you would cheerily wave them over to your self-appointed spot of honor on the dock, inviting them to join you with a, “HEY! Hey, fwend! Wanna see some’fing? It is a FISH! A BIG FISH!”

Sometimes, they’d ride that joy wave right alongside you;
other times, they’d deliver the cursory nod of acknowledgement and nothing more.

Regardless, you owned that happiness as surely as if there was no other way;
whether they were sharing in it with you, or leaving it there for you to keep all to yourself.

It’s a weird gift to bring with you, this love of life that sparks itself brighter and higher than most—
but it’s honest, and genuine, and true.

As your mama, it’s my job to stoke whatever little fires light up your soul and make you, you;
and its my greatest hope that you hold on to this particular spark (and all that follow) ever so strongly,
and with as much conviction and honor as you did that brilliant summer day.

This night?

The one where it rained in tiny bursts,
and we shared a corn dog almost as tall as you,
and you stood back, every inch the tiny gentleman, to ensure other friends in line made it safely through the gate to get on the rides?

This night was more than just a milestone for you, sweetest boy.

That night, for the first time, I got to be the mama on the other side of the carnival ride;
waving back at her boy every time he passed by,
and getting to be the wide-open arms he ran into after.

Know that,
always and no matter what—
regardless of what ride you’re on—

you can look out and find me in the crowd, okay?

Wide-open arms and all,
 mama.