&! dear nixon: vol. 20

my dearest little dude-man—

At some point in the not-so-very-distant past, we referred to you as “the baby” for the last time.

Somewhere—

in between the sounds of your Hot Wheels doing laps around the inner perimeter of the bathtub, and the minutes spent carefully choosing your books to read at bedtime;
between the fifth and 500th time we listened to “Thunder” in the car;
in between slow-sunshine mornings and adventure-walk afternoons—
somewhere along the way, you went full dude on us.

And in that moment, whenever it happened, we didn’t feel a cataclysmic shift;
no invisible marker added itself to the timeline of you;
nothing gave us any reason to pause and remember that time as the last time, because we had no idea it would be.

Don’t get me wrong; this isn’t a mourning thing, like, WHERE DID MY BABY GOOOO, because I know exactly where he is:

He’s making up songs about tooting, and asking important questions like where do yogurt raisins come from, and every night, he makes sweet, satisfied little lip-smacking noises after he falls asleep, the same way he’s done since he was less than 24 hours old.

He giggles up against my chest in the kitchen while I sing, “I love you, a bushel and a peck” into his ear, and he asks me which car is my favorite of the two he brings to bed every night, so he can be sure to sleep with that one.

See, when it comes to last ANYthings, I like to see them as a marker;
for celebration,
for reflection,
for a chance to pause and process what was, and what’s to come.

And I guess that‘s what this particular “last” is about, really;
that moment of pause and peace.

That marker.

You’re it for us, my dude;
our first, last, and only, and every single wonderful thing we could’ve hoped for.

Here’s to loving all the “every times” as wholly and purposefully as if they’re the last times—
because sometimes, they really are.

– (walking past the entrance to the gym at the mall): “It’s the lifting store! Moms and daddies go in there, and they get some’fing, and then, they lift it!”

Mama, whispering: What do you want to dream about tonight, buddy?
Nixon, also whispering: ‘dat chicken we had earlier.

– (11PM, while sitting in the tub, post-puke): “Oh, cwap cwap.”

– (immediately after farting): “There is a horn in my butt.”

Waitress, to Nixon: “And for you, sir?”
Nixon: “I hafta’ poop.”

– (in a public bathroom): “Are the other friends in here to go pee and poop, too? Should we ask ‘dem?”

– (also in public bathroom): “Think dada can hear us next to him? …. DADA. DADA! WHAT DO PLANES SOUND LIKE”

– (while passing me the butter knife): “You hafta’ be nimble and skilled. Knifes is DANGEROUS. So miss Jeri says you hafta’ be nimble and skilled.”

As a parent, nothing is quite as startling as the realization that your child knows your first name.

The other night, we were sitting at dinner, and you casually informed us that my name was Ashley, and daddy’s name was Gus, and we both just looked at each other like WTF OMG WHO TOLD YOU

Like… it’s not as though we have kept our identities a secret from you these past three years; people have obviously referred to us by our actual names in your company… but the solid fact that you were just like, oh hey, here is this fact that I know, totally threw us off.

As of lately, you’re solidly in the center of that little kid thing where you ask “why” about pretty much everything, and/or you’ll take any answer we give you in response, and rephrase it back into a question.

It’s sort of like dark toddler magic.

In typical Nixon form, most of your questions wrap around concepts so much larger than anything I ever imagined your little brain could grasp.

For example, the other day, you simply asked, “Why fire?
Not “where does it come from“, not “why is it in this particular location“… just simply “why” in relation to its entire existence.

…. needless to say, I’m going to learn so freaking much being your mama.

Sitting at a friend’s baby shower last month, three years’ worth of little dude in my lap, I thought back to our baby shower;
when it was me and my little basketball-sized bump in the chair at the front of the room, buried in a color-crinkled forest of tissue paper.

It was the weirdest, most surreal feeling, opening gifts and not having half a damn clue what some of them were even FOR;
opening gifts for a person who wasn’t even here yet, but who owned more pants than I did.

I remember the solid undercurrent of fear that ran immediately beneath the joy—
what if I sucked? what if I wasn’t ready?
those prickles of “holy crap this is really happening” that settle in just before the biggest parts of your life.

Back then, inching week by week toward the greatest unknown, we had no idea what we were in for.

No clue I’d be so excited you were here that I wouldn’t sleep for the first solid 24 hours of your life.

No idea of what was coming at all.

And you know what, my love?

I’m so very glad it was you.

mama

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to you, at three.

From the earliest parts of the beginning of you,
I remember seeing “13” in my head, and knowing that day was destined to be yours—
so when I woke up on that sunny winter Sunday, December 13th, there was no doubt in my mind I was going to have my baby that day.

My you.

I never knew how proud I could be of anything I’d ever done until I saw you into this world on a rush of adrenaline and measured breaths;
until the moment I felt your energy burst into that winter-lit room with us;
until you were in my arms and I got to kiss your sweet, dimple-dappled nose for the first time.

We loved you immensely,
instantly,
in a way we never saw coming but knew all along.

Your presence in our lives, even in those early seconds, has always felt so deliberate and magical—
as though your existence is a song to which we’ve always known the lyrics by heart.

At three, you take pictures that give us the most delightful glimpses into life at three feet high.

There’s a shot of your bedroom—
glossy “good vibes only” vinyl above the crib-turned-toddler-bed you’ve slept in for maybe six hours, total, in your entire existence;
aerial views of your Little People fire truck, and the digger with the built-in music you dance to with enthusiastic air-fists;
half-blurred captures of your daddy and me at various stages in the day, pouring 7-a.m.-cold-brew in one, making faces at you from across the lamp-lit living room in another.

Your camera roll tells the sweetest little stories about what what you seek out to snap as you travel around the house;
what stands out to you as a piece of the day you need to capture and carry with you.

At three, you are equal parts sunshine and lightning bolts.

Just like when you were small, you still poke out your “thinking tongue” any time you get immersed in what you’re doing;
you rarely leave the house without at least one, but usually two, Hot Wheels in hand;
you say “barf” in the cutest, sweetest way I’ve ever heard.

You live for Chobani Flip yogurts, chocolate milk, crunchy cereals, steamed broccoli, rice, and “Chick-Fuh-Flay“;
you inform us, “I have all of my energies!” when you’re done eating, then demonstrate by making a dramatic exit from the table and launching yourself across the room.

Snacks are your life.

This year, when we went to wave at Santa during Christmas, you projectile-hurled (for reasons entirely NOT related to Santa) by the mall-bound Santa house so hard that, as we turned to bail, Santa shot us all a very encouraging and enthusiastic thumbs-up.

At three, you refer to sledding as “goin’ sleigh-ing“;
you whisper-wake me at middle-of-the-night-o’clock to sleepily request, “mama, I ‘nuggle you,” before burrowing into the snugglespace on the right side of my chest;
you ball up your fists and shake with joy when you feel really, really extra-excited.

Every night at bedtime, we ask you, “What’s one thing that made you happy today?
and the answers run the gamut from “I no WANT to tell you,” to “playin’ wiff my fwends,” to oddly specific heart-melters from our day that neither daddy or I even realize you held on to.

You are surprise high fives at the table;
forever disheveled towhead;
eternally enchanted by spaces that echo (including, and especially, public bathrooms).

Three is our era of 5:50 a.m. wake-ups, marked by a joyous announcement of, “Woo-hoo! We can talk now!”;
of barefoot kitchen-table breakfasts featuring crunchy cereal and a cup of milk “WIFF a ‘traw in it, pease“;
of sleepily dancing to the morning soundtrack songs that strike us.

If I’ve learned anything so far as your mama, my light, it’s that all of these moments—
in as much as they feel like they’re going to last for the rest of our lives—
these moments are never here as long as they feel they are.

Three years in forever and a blink.

It’s all the more reason to make these moments beautiful;
to make a point to be present for them;
to do what we can to make them matter.

And so, at three, we’re up before the sun—
with the Hot Wheels,
the crunchy cereal,
the leftover minutes from last night still darkening the sky.

We’re here for Play-Doh and Hot Wheels,
the endless snacks and the sweetest snugs,
meltdowns and memories and fluffy little jams with dinosaur prints…

because this era,
and these moments,
are our greatest work.

And so, my love, are you.

I love you so much, little dude.

 mama.

mama magic.

It’s 15 minutes to midnight and I’m awake—
WE’RE awake—
from a combination of spooky dreams and a stuffy nose.

It’s been years—2 of them, in fact—
since I’ve been awake for this feeling;
that sense of late-night calm that comes from feeling like you’re the only one awake in the world;
the only one present for the sensation of walking the tightrope between night and day;
for the bleary quiet that doesn’t quite belong to either side.

A swaying snuggle, a rolled-up towel tucked in under your pillow,
a few forehead kisses wrapped up with a murmured “I love you, sweet boy“—
that was the magic trick that helped you find sleep this time.

Your heavy lashes casting dreamshadows over your cheeks;
your flannel-ruffled hair from rolling away from bad dreams for the early half of your night.

It’s a startling honor, the moment you fully realize your own Mama Magic;
that unique and astounding superpower to infuse tuck-ins with good dreams,
be the keeper of their special song about being a towel burrito;
rock away a bad dream and seal it with a forehead kiss.

I love that I get to have this super power for him;
I love that I get to have this super power because of him.

 

&! dear nixon: vol. 19

this is you,
moments out of a mud puddle:

You, in our late-summer-lit yard,
punctuated by scattered flecks of mud and sprinkle-sparkles of puddle water.

You backed up your PowerWheel to the muddy banks, sinking in its plastic wheels just enough to stabilize it so you could leap off the back and land smack-dab in the puddle’s center.

By the time you finally emerged—
splash boots bogged down under the weight of half-a-puddle’s-worth of water,
mud-dots dashed to the very tips of your eyelashes—
there was barely a piece of your three-foot-tall existence that didn’t tell the story of where you’d just been.

The summer of two was bare feet on the concrete,
sitting on the sun-warmed porch steps,
watching you and the neighbor kiddos race down the sidewalk and across the yards between Miles’ house, Ya-Ya’s house, and Betty and Gary’s immaculate grass next door.

It was basement Nerf gun wars and front-porch bubble blowing.

It was the sound of roughed-up plastic Big Wheels racing around the parking lot up the street;
of your whispered, “Mama, can we get up now?” at 5:57 on the dot, when you pop up in bed like sunshine toast;
of your deep-belly giggles on the swings at the park.

It was the first season you dove in deep to make-believe and the power of conjuring up whole worlds in your tiny mind—
giving us a front-row seat to the daily specials of your restaurant (complete with a casual, one-elbow lean through the window of your play kitchen, inviting us in to play by asking, “Hi, what you want?”),
dashing through the house to employ your “SUPAH’ GECKO MUSCLES,”
or “shooping” elk in the bathtub.

We end-of-summer road-tripped, you and I,
reading our way through six hours of interstate while daddy was up hunting (or, as you told everyone, “hiking to shoop elk”) in the mountains.
After discovering the exceptional acoustic qualities of a McDonalds bathroom in North Platte, you serenaded the entire restaurant with your rendition of Imagine Dragons’ “Believer.”

With fall stretching out and settling in, I’m already excited for what this next season has in store—
the solid joy of stomping through a sidewalk’s worth of crunchy leaves;
the simple magic of catching snowflakes twirling down from the sky;
the moments of stopping to marvel at autumn-bedecked branches in shades of crimson and gold.

As my brilliant friend Kate put it recently:
Entire lifetimes are built around these moments and here we are, right in the middle of it all.

At two years, nine months old, you are a walking highlight reel.

  • The first day this summer you successfully rocked big-boy undies all day at toddler work, you could barely contain your joy. I’d barely crossed the threshold to pick you up before you ran over to tell me the news, and after I’d appropriately reacted with much gushing & high-pitched joy, you turned to Ms. Jeri and earnestly commented, “She SO excited.
  • Me, while snuggling you in for the night: “I am so happy to be your mama.”
    Nixon: “I am so happy to be your buddy.”
    And then, in the dark just above our faces, I see you raise a sleepy fist—which explodes with a whispered “pewwww” as soon as my knuckles meet yours.
  • Any time you toot loud enough for anyone else to hear, you’ll follow it up with a reassuring, “It not poop! Just fah-ts!
  • Me, whispering: “You’re my favorite boy.”
    Nixon, also whispering: “Can I fly my airplane inside your sleeve.”
  • Your current favorite jams: “‘Dat Feeling in My Pocket song” (Can’t Stop the Feeling – Justin Timberlake); “Pick me up, pick me up, bwee-ber” (Believer – Imagine Dragons); “Glitter and Gold” by Barns Courtney; and a rekindling of a longtime favorite, “Born on This Mountain” (the Benjamin Tod cover), which you request as, “Can we yiss-en to ‘da, ‘I was born on ‘dis mountain a ‘yong time ago, ‘fore ‘dey knock down ‘da timber and strip-mine ‘da hole’ song?”
  • Me, just after you’ve woken up from a nap: “Hi, baby! How was your nap? What’d you dream about?”
    Nixon: (shrugging) “Fruit snacks.”
  • Nixon: “I like your air.”
    Me: “Thanks, buddy! What does that mean?”
    Nixon: “You smell nice in here.”

When the doctor at urgent care asked how you got the popcorn kernel in your ear canal, you shrugged and replied, “With mine fingers.

40 minutes of search-and-rescue later—
including five unsuccessful attempts to flush it out with water,
three failed passes with an ear loop,
and one final try involving glue on the end of an otoscope—
the kernel you’d ever so carefully planted in your ear during nap time at toddler work dramatically popped loose.

Taking a big, deep breath, you happily exclaimed,
It feels SO good to be a brave boy!

That you are, my brave, sweet love.
That you are.

Here’s my promise to you,
from right this second until forever:

I will always leave room for mud puddles and explorations in “shallow wah-tah.”

There will always be time for adventure walks.

As often as it’s possible, I’ll choose to say “yes“—
whatever that looks like.

I will do all I can,
all the time,
to be part of creating magic with you.


 mama

that last piece.

It’s weird, right?
Having an emotional connection to a Command hook?

And yet here we are.

20180828_204811.jpg

First, it was the changing pad.

Rendered completely useless in the wake of a potty-trained, Paw-Patrol-undie’d little dude, and yet—
there was still something about letting it go that felt so much bigger.

Next, it was the cloth diapers.

Those little clouds of fluff represented hundreds, if not thousands, of hours—
of Googling the “right” way to wash and dry them,
of YouTubing how to put them on an actual tiny human,
of washing, drying, stuffing, folding,
of loading into the daycare bag each night like a puffy fabric rainbow,
of dunking and swishing every night and starting all over again.

Now, all that’s left now is that hook;

this simple, otherwise unremarkable detail tucked in between a bookshelf full of stories and a metal basket stacked with nighttime Pull-Ups.

Its existence is literally the least sentimental piece of Nixon’s entire room:
Its entire purpose was to hold wet bags, filled with dirty cloth diapers, in between wash days.

But there it is—
still in the same spot I picked out, somewhere in that hazy fog of early baby days, when I’d legitimately forgotten how to sleep.

Still in the same place it’s always been as we’ve made our way through two-point-eight years of tiny humanhood, falling ever-steadier in love with the greatest light of our lives.

Still in the same room where we’ve picked out bedtime stories and cooked pretend soup, raced tiny metal cars and stacked brilliant, if not doomed, towers from colorful wooden blocks.

… it’s ridiculous, right?

It’s a Command hook.

It’s a tiny, white piece of plastic.

And yet—
it’s the last piece.

Something about taking that hook down represents a transition between chapters that, no matter how closely you’ve been paying attention, kind of punches you right in the guts and creates a sharp, sudden intake of breath.

Life’s so brilliantly weird that way;
how it holds the capacity to channel such energy and sentiment into the tiniest, most insignificant elements.

How, every so often, something as small as a Command hook can remind you to pause;
to reflect;
to remember all the beautiful places you’ve been on your way to this one, and how many more you have yet to discover as you head out to explore from here.

dear nixon: vol. 18

my dearest ham and cheese—

Last week, you turned two-and-a-half.

In the smoky morning light of your half-birthday morning—
all of us snuggled together under the covers, your hair tousled a thousand directions from the adventures in your dreams—
I whispered,
Buddy, do you know what today is?

What IS it?” you asked.

It’s your HALF birthday! Today, you’re two-and-a-half years old.

In response, you grinned that sweet little grin, cheerily replied, “‘tanks! Can I have ‘quare crunchy cereals now?”, and then attempted to catapult yourself off the bed.

This is you at two-and-a-half:
a giant slice of “morning person,”
the very definition of “rise and shine.”

In the twilight of the day, we celebrated you with ice cream—
chocolate, at your request,
the scoop of which you ordered all by yourself, promptly knocked off the cone, then proceeded to use as paint all over the lower quadrant of your face.

This is us, two-and-a-half years into being a family:
messes and adventures,
early mornings and memories.

These days, your brain is up to the very greatest things.

  • You’ve casually renamed the “Little Blue Truck’s Springtime” to Little Blue Truck in Summer, and “Mighty, Mighty Construction Site” to Morning Struck-Shun Site, and will ask for both as such.
  • (in the bathtubNixon: “We need a brench.”
    Mama: “Can you tell me what a ‘brench’ is, buddy?”
    Nixon: “It is something you like. And something you sit on.”
  • This was your morning at toddler work the other day, because chalk is your life now:
  • Scene: Two Jehovah’s Witnesses come to the door. Clementine is losing her mind because OMG THERE ARE PEOPLE HERE MAYBE THEY’LL PET ME CAN I GO ASK THEM;
    you’re losing losing your tiny mind because the dog is; oh, and you’re also shouting, “Who ‘DOSE? Who ‘DOSE?” as loud as you can.
    … it’s at this point I open the door.
    Jehovah’s Witness, taken aback: “… is now a good time?”
    Mama: “UH NO, THANKS FOR COMING BY” (door closes)
    Nixon: “… who ‘dat?”
    Me: “They wanted to sell us Jesus.”
    Nixon: “We no have ‘dat.”
  • (on the way seasons work)
    Mama: “… then winter comes after fall!”
    Nixon: “‘dat no sound good.”
    Mama: “Why not?”
    Nixon: “I do not yike dirt.”
  • The other day, you asked to hear “the fcking song,” and I began to die a slow, quiet death, wondering WHERE THE EFF DID YOU EVEN HEAR THAT—
    only for you to follow up with, “The F
    CKING song, mama! Where is f*ckin’?” and I realized you were asking about the “Where is Thumbkin” song.
    … y’all ever want a moment of reckoning about the adjectives you use in your life, go get yourself a toddler.
  • (while getting your diaper changed and staring up at my messy bun) “Mama! Your hair looks like Trolls movie!”
  • At uncle Patrick’s graduation last weekend, we were settling into our seats at the end of a row. I leaned over and quietly told daddy, “If buddy gets bored and starts losing his mind, I’ll just take him out in the lobby to walk around.
    Like 30 seconds later, you calmly hopped off of my lap, held out your hand, and announced, “I losin’ my mind. We have to go.

It’s that perfect part of the day between 6PM and 7PM, and we’re at a BBQ with friends, soaking up those gorgeous, dusky rays of sun that feel like the very epitome of a summer night.

One of the kiddos in attendance announces, “I’m going to do somersaults!”

As she launches toward the grass, you take off toward one of the patio tables—
where you grab an object off the tabletop and triumphantly run with it toward the somersaulter.

I see her confused face as you approach, so I helpfully explain,
I think he’s bringing you… a salt shaker? Just go with it?

It’s then, in a glorious moment of realization, that your daddy grabs my arm and goes, “Babe. He heard her say she’s doing ‘somer-SALTS,’ and he went to get her some salt.

And there you are, beaming so proud because you helped your friend.

… oh, my dude.
I have never been more delighted about the inner workings of your brains.

We’ve been in our house for almost five years now—
the place where, after we’d walked through it with the then-owners for the first time, I ugly-cried in the dining room because I loved it so much.

It was like, somewhere deep in my bones, I already knew it’d be the place we’d bring you home.

I remember sitting in the backyard,
literally barefoot and pregnant,
dreaming about what it’d be like to play in our yard with you.

& now here you are,
constructing a little backyard universe made of sand and water-table splashes,
punctuated with tiny power-Jeep revs and the “plink” of a little metal watering can.

Two-and-a-half years we’ve been doing this thing, sweetness and light.

I’m going to tell you a secret:
I only kind of know what I’m doing.

But to be totally honest?
I think it’s more fun this way.

Where would the magic be if there was nothing new to figure out, right?

All things considered, we’re both still pretty new to this whole gig—
so I say, let’s just keep giving ourselves some grace, do it up big, and figure this all out as we go.

I’m in if you are, sweet boy.

mama

dear nixon: vol. 17

my brave & brilliant little sunshine-ball:

Remember how I thought I was a wreck when I took you to baby work for the first time?

LITTLE DID I KNOW I HAD SUCH UNTAPPED POTENTIAL TO BE FAR MUCH WRECK-IER.

All the way back in January, we found out that our beloved miss Lisa (your “Yeesa”) was going to retire from doing baby work this summer.

Being that she’s the only other person outside of family that’s ever kept you for us, the idea of leaping into a world full of strangers and being like, “Hey, want to hang out with my kid for many hours during the day?” was absolutely horrifying.

Knowing full well how great I am with sudden change (read: absolutely not at all), the Universe threw me a giant, glitter-laden high five. In the space of like, four days, we went from planning to call around and put you on waiting lists, to finding you a serendipitously open spot at miss Jeri’s and setting you up for your first day there.

Switching you to a new place was basically the Second Coming of when you went to baby work for the first time.

You’re my dude, you know?
I’m in charge of making sure you’re surrounded by adventure & awesome & love & good people.

It was one thing to hand you off as a squish when I went back to work;
it’s completely another to have you be a whole little human this time, complete with little manners & a love for reading books & the ability to realize that, oh hey, mama’s dropping me off with a whole bunch of people I don’t know and I’m just supposed to be cool with it.

As an adult, I would not be cool with it.

It effs me up to think too hard about the very basic mechanics of how having other people take care of you works, to be honest.

Like, yes—
I know all the benefits of you being around other tiny humans, and we’d never leave you in the care of anyone we didn’t wholly trust, you’re surrounded by fantastic things to do, all of that.

But.
At the end of the day, the very basic fact is that, at least until you found your tiny groove amongst your tiny tribe, I was basically being like, “Hey, so, have fun with a whole bunch of new people you don’t know; I’m going to bail and be gone for a lot of hours, but it’ll be cool.”

YEAH THAT’S SUPER RAD.

As it turned out, you are resilient and brave AF.

For all my anxiety and catatonic panic, we rolled in to miss Jeri’s for your first day & you were so totally freaking chill I didn’t know what to do with myself.

Before you fully bailed on me to go cook in the play kitchen, you casually turned around & asked, “You go work, mama?

… why are you the coolest human.

Very clearly, my love, YOU weren’t the one I needed to worry about at all.

This month, in “dude, where’d did you even get that“:

  • Mama: My windshield is so dirty! How should we clean it?
    Nixon: … I KNOW SOME’FING!
    Mama: What should we do?
    Nixon: Washing ‘sheen! (washing machine)
    (a few blocks later, when we pull up to the house)
    Nixon: … wait. No washing ‘sheen. It down’tares.
    Mama: That’s a good point, buddy. What should we try instead? Maybe the car wash?
    Nixon: Car washing ‘sheen! YES. YET’S DO IT!
  • “I need crunchy cereals. They feel me better.” (your version of “make me feel better”)
  • (Dada, wearing new shoes)
    Nixon: Ooh, ‘dose nice! Where you get ‘dem? In mail? I got mine at’s grocery shopping.
  • (singing, twirling the stars above your dresser) “Twink-uh, twink-uh, ‘ittuh stahhs…. (song abruptly ends) how you? You good?”
  • (reading, upon your insistence, the “book” attached to the cord for charging your baby monitor)
    Mama: … and the baby was safe because he didn’t play with the cord! OK, buddy, your turn. What happens next?
    Nixon (after a long, thoughtful pause): Brown.
  • Nixon: Mama, would you like some waffles?
    Me: Actually, can I have… three pizzas instead?
    (gently reaching out and cradling my chin in your hand)
    Nixon: No, mama. Only waffles. Only waffles today.
  • (while opening up your Easter eggs)
    Mama: Wow, dude, the Easter bunny sure got you some good treats!
    Nixon, walking to middle of living room and yelling toward front window: THANK YOU EASTER BUNNY I HOPE YOU GET SOME MORE GOOD TREATS

You’re in this weird phase of “almost” with holidays, where mostly you get what’s happening, but not 100%.

Since we’re not religious even a little bit at all, explaining Easter was weird.

Like, seriously—
when you’re old enough to start asking how and why there’s a giant bunny and his sole purpose in life is to hide eggs full of snacks around the yard, and it’s totally okay to eat them & not weird at all… I don’t even know.

This year, though?
This year, all you needed to hear was that an “Easter tie” would be involved, and you’d get to hunt for eggs full of snacks (“Like crunchy sear-uhls?” “Yeah, love, like crunchy cereals! And chocolate, probably,” “Oh! I LIKE ‘dose!“), and you were totally set.

Also, apparently you’ve been practicing hunting for eggs in secret, because you slayed the Easter egg hunt we went to with an astounding level of focus and speed.

Your face, man:

Oh, and ALSO THIS.
JUST SO MUCH THIS:

That delicious amount of melty cheese is 100% in honor of the fact you finally got to wear the “Easter tie” you’d seen perched on one of your bookshelves for weeks, and you were so immensely proud of its existence.

When grandpa found out you were wearing one, he made a last-minute trip to the store, ON THE DAY OF EASTER, just to purchase a bowtie so you could match.

When we walked in their front door, the glee on both of your faces was palpable.

These days, I’m trying to be better about saving space for myself.

I find that space where I can—
in 25-minute, middle-of-the-day slow-rolls through Hobby Lobby;
in nights where the house is quiet and dim and slow;
in post-bedtime Target trips, where it’s barely 8 o’clock but feels like the middle of the night, and I always find myself looking around incredulously like, oh my god, we’re all out so LATE.

I’m also working to get to a place where I can wholly remember that the dishes,
the laundry that needs to go from the washer to the dryer,
the sticky dinner table,
the rice all over the floor under your chair,
all of that—
they’re all just things.

Things won’t remember if I let them sit for a bit so I can focus on something else.
You will.

Even after all this time, I still get totally psyched to come pick you up at the end of the day.

I love that moment when I open the door and you come flying across the room, eyes bright and arms wide, rushing up to announce, “MY MAMA HERE!

If I stay standing, I get leg-hug;
a sloth-style throwdown with your little arms wrapped just above my knees.

But if I bend down?

When I bend down, I get your little arms wrapped around my neck, too.

I get to feel your sweet, smushy cheekies squished up against mine,
and I get to smell your rumpled-up boy-hairs,
and I get to feel the weight of your body happy-smushing into me like I’m the greatest punctuation mark in the entire sentence of your day.

The only difference between those two outcomes is my taking the time to bend down and meet you at your level.

It is so, so much better if only I give myself the room to bend down and meet you where you are, rather than stay rigid and inflexible.

And if that’s not one of the most powerful lessons I have learned so far in this mama life, I don’t know what is.

Always here for the snugs, my love.