Happy New Year! I don’t have a profound declaration or meaningful mantra for this new year as I didn’t get to collect my thoughts during the last week of 2017. So for now, I will settle for a measly rhyme: “Year One Eight, You Will Be Great!” And I’m still looking for a theme verse with vivid imagery for 2018.
The last week of 2017 was filled with quality family and friend time, a whole lot of togetherness in both NYC and CT. I will spare you our December calendar. Instead, I just wanted to capture one magical-in-the-mundane moment that took my breath away. Magic in the mundane is a theme I keep getting drawn to, my favorite kind of treasure hunt because it’s so easy.
The boys had finally completed their last day of school on December 22nd, so close to Christmas Eve. It felt comically late as CA friends seem to have been on break for a while. To kick off our one week of holiday break, I announced that we should go for a family swim after dinner, though it was dark and cold out.
“Family swim” meant the boys would go with Daddy to the local pool while I stayed home with Olive. Once they got back, I would get tagged for my turn in this relay-parenting we’ve grown accustomed to. It was tempting to skip my swim as it was already their bedtimes and so much warmer in our apartment with our glowy, fake Christmas tree.
But I started getting excited to finally go for my solitary swim at the end of the year, when I couldn’t make homework or dinner an excuse for not going. My body ached to move beyond school pick-ups and baby lifting.
And what a great way to kick off winter break. The swim would be cleansing, like a baptism into well-being.
Olive was babbling up a storm and I kissed her all over as she was bouncing up and down on my lap after she had nursed. I noticed she was due for a toenail clipping as her little toenails scraped my thighs. I grabbed her little feet and almost gasped when I spotted her pinky toenail.
It was extra small, curved funkily and growing up into the ceiling instead of straight across. JUST LIKE MINE except 40 years younger, cuter and juicier.
Kevin always teases me about why I bother to have a pinky toenail when it’s that small. The few times I’ve had a pedicure, the person doing my nails has had to basically paint my skin since there is only a dot of upturned nail.
With the Christmas music playing and with the apartment aglow with Christmas lights, I teared up once again, not just about this little girl being gifted to our family in 2017, but struck by how I’ve already handed things down to her, like this baby toenail.
What else would I pass down? Both good and bad. Perhaps she will be curious and compassionate like me? Expressive and emotional? But will she also feel things too much like me? Prematurely grey? Freakishly skinny wrists and ankles with nothing else thin? Unforgiving of entitled, spoiled people? And so much more.
I’m going to be one of her strongest influences. Lord help me raise her up right.
I also thought about one of Kevin’s favorite songs, “Things We Handed Down” by Marc Cohn:
“Don’t know much about you
Don’t know who you are
We’ve been doing fine without you
But, we could only go so far
Don’t know why you chose us
Were you watching from above
Is there someone there that knows us
Said we’d give you all our love
Will you laugh just like your mother
Will you sigh like your old man
Will some things skip a generation
Like I’ve heard they often can
Are you a poet or a dancer
A devil or a clown
Or a strange new combination of
The things we’ve handed down …”
I wanted to text Kevin the picture of MistleToe Jr. and also ask when he might be coming home so that I wouldn’t back out of my swim. Just as I was about to text him, I happened to look out of our big living room window to see and hear the joyful commotion of my three, bundled up guys walking home, Kevin holding on tightly to their cold, little hands.
Though they are growing up so fast, I thanked God that they were still little as I watched them cross the street. I thanked God for them literally looking up to their dad at the crosswalk, still innocent enough for a night swim with their dad visibly delighting them. I could feel their smiles from across the street.
And Olive, you just might inherit other funky traits from your mama, other than your funky pinky toe. Please forgive me and know that you amaze me just by existing. You got nothing to prove, girl. And you can tell me anything though I know I have big reactions. Will work on that.
Hope y’all had a merry holiday season. Here’s to 2018! May we have our arms stretched out to receive God’s mercy and grace that He hands down to us each moment.