Shame and Shushing

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A few months ago our family hung out with a new family for the day. About an hour into our time together, Ana called out to get my attention… “Mom!” The eight-year-old-ish son of the people we were with was startled and confused. “Wait,” he said, perplexed, “You’re her mom?” He paused. “Why is she… Indian?” His mother’s mouth dropped wide open. She looked HORRIFIED. She tried to shush him but not be obvious with her shushing.
Aside from him being oceans off on our daughter’s ethnicity, I was unfazed. “She was adopted,” I told him. His mother remained uncomfortable and continued her not-so-covert attempts at getting him to shut his cake-hole.

Our daughter just kinda watched it unfold. …… Last month we took our family to the homeless shelter to help serve dinner. Please note that I said HOMELESS shelter. More than the actual serving I was hoping our kids’ eyes would be open to different people, different ways of life, options for how to love well, etc.. Well our little chatter box @solanagilbertadventures made herself right at home there. She plopped down with a bowl of stew at a table with the men and started asking easy questions. “Why don’t you have a house?” was her intro.

I felt an unstoppable urge to shush her or chime in. “Well they might have houses,” I said to her. (Um, what?) I looked at the guys. They ignored me and carried on, telling our daughter how they hunker down in sleeping bags and then roll themselves up in tarps to stay warm during freezing nights. …….. I’ve seen situations like this unfold, and also been the shushing mom, anytime kids get near anyone with a disability. “Mom, why is that boy in a wheelchair?” “Mom, why is that man missing an arm?” “Shhhh.” As if the person with one arm is unaware of their situation. ………. I think it’s so curious how we assign shame to other people where shame does not, and need not, exist……….

Thoughts for the day. I love the girl in this picture something so fierce. There’s no shame in her game. Can we all stop the shushing?

Baby Boys and Silent Night

It’s Ziggy’s birthday!!! I wrote this earlier today when Zig’s was at school, but I didn’t have pictures to post so I waited. I just put the little… sweetheart…. to bed, wayyyy too late on a birthday school night, and the mini-gremlin’s kicks and flails and begs for “daddy” had me second guessing everything nice I’m about to say.
And then I watched him sound asleep for five minutes, and now I feel honest again. 🙂

This kid turned four today, and he is seriously, THE BEST.
Five years ago, when I found out we were having a boy, I had all these visions in my head of what he would be. He would be wild, rambunctious, impulsive, thrill-seeking… an adrenaline junkie. He would be a tad thoughtless, oblivious, and in general he would have dirty fingernails (after-all, @campsmashbox ). Ziggy is none of these things. He is everything I didn’t dream up. I could not have, in my wildest imagination, envisioned a little human boy with a heart as pure, as thoughtful, as other-focused, and as aware of all that is good and beautiful, as this kid.

It is not uncommon for Ziggy to wake up as the sun is rising (while he has many strengths, sleep is not one), pause at the window, and say in his yet toddleresque and awestruck voice, “Mommmmmmaaa. Isn’t the world beaut-i-ful?” He says this about the stars when the moon’s not out, and the moon when the stars aren’t out. He says this when the sun is shining and when the snow is falling. He notices his sister’s new dress, my painted nails, and the new lights when they go up on the Woodbridge. . “Awe,” he’ll say to Ana often, without any prompting whatsoever, “you look soooo fancesome.” It’s a Ziggy word… fancy + handsome… and I will love it forever.

For his birthday, Ziggy asked for “the present Ana wants, because she’s been asking and asking for it.” I kid you not. He wanted nothing for his birthday, just “the present for Ana.” Ziggy. You. are. GOLD.

I have a horrific memory. I don’t remember bringing Ziggy home from the hospital. What I do remember, is Christmas Eve, one week later. At that time we lived in our other #tinyhouse – the one that also happened to be a church.
I didn’t go to Christmas Eve service that year because, one-week-old. I was home alone with Ziggy and I remember looking down at our sleeping baby boy, the only light in the room from the choir of Christmas trees just outside our frosty window. I remember soaking in the peacefulness of Ziggy’s soft breath.

As the Christmas Eve church service (which I could vaguely distinguish through our wall) neared an end, the amplified crescendo of hundreds of peace-filled voices poured into our blessed home. They sang together. Silent Night. It was an offering to the heavens. It was like Zig and I were all alone, and yet surrounded by a thousand angels.
I remember thinking of Mary… how she must have felt cradling her Prince of Peace in that stable so many years ago.

That Christmas Eve was one of the more profound experiences of my life. Miscarriage after miscarriage had left me feeling hopeless time and time again. And here I was, with the ultimate Christmas gift of a newborn son on a Silent and Holy Night. This memory will forever shape who and what Ziggy means to me.

Little Zig-man, happy birthday. You are a true and precious light. You have the soul of a poet. You are a treasure beyond treasures. Keep shining, little buddy. The world needs more hearts like yours.

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Honey, I Want To Love You Like This

Him.

His gaze shifts as she rises from the table. He puts a hand on her chair. Steadies it as she scoots back. She makes her way across the room. He looks past his beef tenderloin and gnocchi dinner. Past the vodka on ice, three olives, in the martini glass. She’s just headed 20 feet to the restaurant restroom, but he doesn’t take his eyes off her.

“You still watch her like that?” my husband comments.

“62 years,” he replies. “Gotta make sure nothing happens to her.”

Her.

She wakes up early. Gets the coffee going. His with just a little cream. She likes it black. She brings him his mug and then layers up on the sweaters and jackets, hats and scarves, and gloves to ward off the fall mountain chill. They are headed outside to watch the hot air balloons take off. It is balloon festival weekend in Snowmass. They take their place on the berm, side by side. The sun has just risen. The same fire that fills the balloons to make them rise lights up her eyes. She waits with awestruck anticipation. Like a child. Like someone who has only seen a hot air balloon once in their life. Or twice. Or never. The balloons begin to ascend. Colors and patterns float up and speckle the morning sky.

“Oh look Vin,” she says. “Aren’t they beautiful!”

Him.

The cruise ship had lots of options to offer its senior citizens on port days. Historical tours. Boat rides. Bird watching. Bingo. There was the all you can eat buffet and the lounge chairs on the deck that were good for reading books about the war and retirement. Then there was also this… the option to participate in an oceanfront yoga class. The sun was hot that day and the sea water crystal clear. He’d never done yoga. Wasn’t very flexible. Was on the backside of 80 and had forgotten to pack his yoga pants. It was no matter. He knew something. He knew that life is a grand adventure and to really live it sometimes you just have to say yes. Even if that means a little down dog in the sand.

Her.

She stops to the side of the crowded brick walking street. Turtleneck peeking past the scoop of her sweater. It’s a warm summer day in Barcelona. She reaches into her purse and pulls something out. It’s a little green bottle. Jim Beam. She unscrews the top and puts the plastic to her mouth, the olive skin of her taut cheekbones shines in the sunlight. She doesn’t even take a sip. Just lets the liquid touch her lips. “For the cough,” she says, a twinkle in her winking eye. There are people bustling all around us. Street performers. Tourists. Locals in a hurry. Vendors hawking their wares. Most don’t notice grandma and her airplane sized bottle. Those who do, smile. This same bottle has been in her purse for two weeks. Grandpa let’s out a breath and his lips curl up when he looks in her direction. I could tell what he was thinking. “That’s my girl.”

Them.

After 62 years of marriage there is no him and no her anymore. Not in the “I’ve lost my own identity” kind of way, but in the, “I am nothing without my teammate,” kind of way. They are what love can look like when you say yes. On repeat.

After 80 plus years of life there is still no “we’re too old,” with them. There’s just, “what do you need?” and “how can we help?” and “what fun can we have?” They are what life can look like when you say yes. On repeat.

Need a last-minute Santa for the Christmas Eve church service? “You bet,” he said, “but not unless Mrs. Claus is by my side. 62 years. Not going to change that now.” Want hundreds of homemade cookies made for your wedding? “Sure thing,” she says. “With his help we’ll get it done.” Could use some new shelves for your kitchen cabinets? “I’ve never used an electric saw before,” he said, “but I will figure it out. ” (Okay that one actually reeeeaaaalllllly scared me, and took a slice out of our patio table).

You probably think these stories of love and adventure are sweet?

You probably hope some day this is you?

Please hear this.

It can be.

Someday you can be them.

Because once upon a time they were you.

There were nights when he worked late. Times he just needed a beer with the boys. There were days when she got tired of the kids and the laundry and doing the same damn things all the time. They stressed about money and paying the bills. They needed a vacation. They worried about things, like whether or not to take that new job, trade in that old car, and where to send the kids to school. They made new friends and lost touch with old. They got short with each other. They fought. They made up. There were days when they went to bed mad and woke up mad and there were nights when one of them slept on the couch.

They got from where we are to where they are and here’s how they did it.

They said yes.

Yes to God. Yes to each other. Yes to adventure.

Husbands, can you be like this? Wives, can we be like this? Will you join me in the yes parade?

Let’s drink coffee and watch balloons fly and hold hands in the sunrise when our hair is gray and our skin has wrinkles and I wear turtlenecks and your belly sticks out. Let’s make people smile at the beach, and at weddings, and on the cobblestone streets of Barcelona, and in the jam-packed pews of the church on Christmas Eve. Let’s go big or go home. And when we get to their age, let’s go big and then go home. Because for goodness sake, when we’re 80 and we’ve gone all chaturanga in the sun, we’re going to need a nap.

XO,

Kara

 

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