Pot Roasts and Fire Trucks

I look down for a moment at Joseph  who is playing on the floor with his wooden truck puzzle. He picks up the chunky, red fire truck which consumes the entirety of his right hand, and then proceeds to wave his arms wildly up and down with squeals of excitement. A simple puzzle piece has enough power to elicit pure joy. There is so much this little boy can teach me, just so long as I take the time to observe him at play.

It’s a chilly October morning, and I’m standing at the kitchen counter chopping vegetables for a pot roast. My feet are bare and I’m still in my pajamas. It’s nearly ten o’clock. Mister J is working from home, and so the soft strokes of his keyboard rattle off at a steady pace from the kitchen table.

Most of the time I find fulfillment in being a stay-at-home mom…

most of the time.

It was a little over a year ago when that eerie quiet settled in after that magnificent twelve year storm blew through the house, a storm which saw us through the babyhood and early childhood years of our three stair-step daughters. The silence took some getting used to. For once, in as long as I could remember, I was able to take a bath every day, apply a little bit of make up, and get dressed. It was a welcomed change after years spent in jeans, Gap t-shirts, and a pair of Keens.

Over time my belly began to swell once more with new life blooming inside, and so my baths slowly got longer as my breath grew shorter until I could no longer see my toes at the opposite end of the tub.

“Well, baby,” I would say, rubbing the top of my hard, round belly, “any day now.”

Yet again, I find myself back in the eye of one of those magnificent storms; although, this time it is a little different in its own subtle ways.

Perhaps it’s me who carries the most pronounced change; although, Mister J might say the same about himself.

The blessing of this little boy doesn’t escape me, nor does it escape Mister J. Less focused on the perils of work and more focused on the glorious, intoxicating love found in a balanced life, he takes the time to run and meditate every day. He says he wants to start taking yoga, and he has picked up his drumsticks again, which reminds me of that boy I fell in love with back in our college days. He loved me back then as that creative mess of a girl who was never really sure about what she wanted in life, even though she knew she wanted to raise a family.

And he loves me even now–all of these years later–as creative mess of a woman. I’m certain about who I am, what I want in life, and I know, despite everything around me that is constantly changing, that I have a dire need to explore myself in honor of these bare feet, whether they be standing up chopping vegetables, or propped up on a chair as I write with my back turned to a sink of overflowing dishes.

In our seventeenth year of marriage, we are learning to embrace ourselves and each other along our very own zig-zagging paths, both holding on tightly as we navigate our way through the brilliant storm of raising teenagers and learning about life through the lens of our little boy.

My hair has grayed, and the wrinkles on my face have found new space to become a little more pronounced than the year prior. I notice myself getting older physically, but also in spirit. I find myself a little less full of the wonder I knew I would happen upon one day, and a little more fully aware of the fact that it is now upon me for the taking. While the prime time is now to get things done, it is dually the prime time to slow down to a crawl long enough to notice the finer details in life worth living and writing for.

The wholesome aroma of a hearty meal for my family begins to fill the kitchen. The baby’s fire truck lay on the kitchen floor in the exact spot where he was last playing with it. In the time it took for me to finish writing this, two hours have passed, I’m still barefooted and in my pajamas, and my little boy rests quietly in my lap. The keyboard strums away in the distance.