Grow: My One Little Word for 2016

IMG_5246Words come to us in funny ways. I think this is the furthest in advance I have ever come upon one, sometime around the summer of 2015. I so distinctly remember the moment. I was strolling down a shady sidewalk with Micah, enjoying a quiet moment and thinking about my life. Thinking about where I was, what I was hoping for, what was coming next. I felt so happy. I am so happy. And so grateful for that! And what I most wanted and hoped for was to just keep growing, as a person, as a mom, as a wife. I wanted to keep learning and experiencing new things. I wanted to keep traveling to new places. I wanted to become kinder, more generous, more compassionate, more patient, more good.

One of the ideas I got from doing Ali Edwards’ One Little Word class a few years ago was to look up the synonyms and definitions of your word. I love the ones for grow so much. Advance. Become. (Ohhh, I love that one!) Build, cultivate, develop, flourish, mature, rise, thrive. I want all of those things for myself. And for all of you! This is my favorite definition of grow: “to increase by natural development, as any living organism or part by assimilation of nutriment; increase in size or substance.” I love that connection with the natural world. I want to turn my face to the sun and soak up every good thing like roots draw water. I want to work at growing every day, even and especially in infinitesimal, undetectable increments that somehow add up to a sturdy green stem and a riotously colorful bloom.

It doesn’t surprise me at all that learning new things is a big happiness booster. It expands our conception of our selves. It makes the world seem full of possibility. It gives us new tools, whether they are languages or skills or insights. And it doesn’t require much from us–not necessarily any money at all, just a bit of time and maybe a library card (and, okay, maybe a bit of planning). I have always been the kind of person who thinks nothing sounds more fun than learning a new language, and lately I am endeavoring to learn more of the names of the birds and trees and flowers and succulents that make up the moving wallpaper of my daily walks with Micah. The world is truly so full of splendors.

Of course, not all of this growing is going to be joyful. There’s also the growth that comes from pruning, which will definitely be painful. I don’t know yet what sort of pruning will come my way this year, but I hope that I can meet it with grace. And humor. And the memory of all the basil I lost a few summers ago when it went to seed due to…lack of pruning. It is my great hope that at the end of this year, I will look back and think, “Yes, I grew, and I learned, and I gave, and it was good.”

(Words from previous years, just for fun: grateful, open, nurture, savor.)

Mommy’s Holiday

IMG_5171I can’t even count the number of flights we’ve taken Micah on in his sweet eighteen months (partly because there is no longer a direct flight to Memphis, boooooo!), but somewhere in that time it has begun to feel routine to roll through the airport wearing a baby, pulling a suitcase, and pushing a stroller piled high with a carseat and diaper bag. I am not sure I ever imagined myself being a baby/toddler jet setter (hahahaha!), but I feel very grateful that we haven’t had any real problems, and that everyone has been so kind and helpful to us. However! I can hardly remember what I used to do on planes. Sleep? Watch movies? Read books? Listen to Jeremy Irons read Lolita for the 87th time? (Um, yes, it was the latter.) My rusty solo flight game got a little chance to shine this past weekend, though, when I flew up to the Bay Area to see my brother’s family. My mom was already going to be there, and, as has been amply documented previously, I am very good at inviting myself on other people’s vacations. Although I have flown by myself with Micah here and there, usually we travel as a family. It just didn’t work out that way this time, though, so off I went into the great unknown of solo mommy travel.

How did it go? Really well! It was very sad driving away from my precious baby, but I have never ever been through security that fast. (TSA Pre-Check plus Burbank airport = approximately 10 seconds).  At the gate, a headache kept me from tearing into my book, but the flight was smooth and peaceful. And I had to laugh at a group of people who were angling for the best seats on a one-hour flight. It was impossible not to think, “Hey, you’re flying without a wiggling toddler, you’re doing great!” Perspective, I haz it. Perspective, I did not used to haz it.

IMG_5142I landed at 10pm, and my awesome friend Steve picked me up. I thought he was just going to circle the exit and wait for me to come out, but he actually parked his car and came in to meet me. And he had my last name displayed on my phone (not seen here for reasons of camera focus or something). So sweet! We went to get a drink and catch up, and I stayed up way past my bedtime, and it was otherworldly and fun.

IMG_5143In the morning I got to hang out with my mom and my brother, who introduced me to Philz Coffee. Mind blown. Let me explain: I like my coffee black and strong. My brother has described it as a steel rod. I have never met a coffee in the wild that is so strong it actually NEEDS cream. Until that day. I had forgotten how luxurious creamed coffee is because most coffee is too muted by the cream to have any flavor, and thus it never meets my lips. However, this was a revelation. I asked if we could come back the next day, and my brother kindly obliged. They are opening one in Pasadena, but not until this summer. Fly, fly, time!

IMG_5169My 48 hours with family was spent walking and talking and eating good food, with a little bonus of the chance to get my nails done with my mom (last manicure: August 2014). And that’s when the trouble hit.

I was in town Thursday night through Saturday night, and it was Saturday afternoon. Eric called. My phone was in my coat pocket, far from my wet nails, so I didn’t hear it. Eric texted my mom. But he didn’t want me to worry my way through my manicure, so he told her not to tell me until I was finished. He is deserving of husband epaulets, no?

When I reached him, he told me that our sweet baby was sick. He had thrown up. Several times. Of course, I was devastated not to be there, but relieved that my flight was in a few short hours. I was sorry not to be there to help, but I knew Eric had things well in hand. As the hours stretched on, he kept throwing up. A total of seven times.

IMG_5175I present to you, ladies and gentlemen, the saddest picture ever taken. Thankfully, the last episode passed, and he was asleep by the time I got home. But I have never been happier to rock my child in the middle of the night, singing, “Mommy’s Here” to the tune of Brahms’ Lullaby. He is all better now, thank goodness, but mommy is so happy to be home.

How did Eric do? Oh, fantastically. I had no doubt or worries about him taking the helm for a few days. But I do have to brag a little. What did he do while I was gone? Got up at 4:30am with the baby (I mean for the day), took him to the park for the afternoon, went to the grocery store and pharmacy, and secretly cooked surprise pulled pork in the slow cooker. All of that was before Micah got sick. Then he soothed and comforted him, followed him around with a metal bowl, changed and soaked his clothes several times, and scrubbed the carpet (seven times, I remind you). When I got home, he had disinfected the whole kitchen, washed all the bottles, and was getting ready to steamvac the carpet. Swoon. It’s not that I thought him incapable of any of this. It’s just that I was so touched by the reminder that we are equal partners, in life and in love. I had just asked him to pick up some milk, but it turns out that he had actually done most of the week’s shopping before I got home. I totally teared up when I opened the cabinet and found my favorite croutons in there (the ones he doesn’t even like). He seemed a bit baffled when I came crying to him with a bag of Texas Toast croutons (mysteriously manufactured by a company called New York), and I didn’t know how to explain it except that I was just so touched. Touched that he’d encouraged me so much to go, touched that he’d done so much more than I’d expected, touched that he’d done so many little surprise kindnesses for me. On top of taking care of our sweet sick baby. I’m not sure how to end this post except to say that I am grateful: grateful to have gone, grateful to be home, grateful to have seen, once again, how amazing my husband is, grateful to have had another chance to fall wholeheartedly in love with him.

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