Saturday we celebrated “a day of summer.” I came home from yoga and spent the next four hours in the kitchen, while Leila thoroughly enjoyed sampling my efforts and taking her turn at the rolling pin. In the late afternoon we went outside. We filled our inflatable pool almost to capacity (well beyond the usual two our three inches) to make a “big pool,” which Leila and I went swimming in while Ben grilled hot dogs. Ben and I drank icy cold beer, and we all munched on salty chips and creamy guacamole.
We ate dinner outside and went back into the pool with our bellies full and the sun slowly moving closer to the horizon. When Leila said she was done, we headed inside. Ben and Leila readied the living room, spreading the green blanket and pulling down the pillows. Meanwhile, I layered the homemade graham crackers, salted almond dark chocolate and toasted the homemade marshmallows over the stovetop to top the classic concoction. Then we all gathered for a movie and s’mores.
I am not sure exactly when or where or why it started, but I’ve had this feeling. This thought, “Why not enjoy summer?” growing in me. Why not go to the beach? Why not play in the park? Why wait for the perfect day, the time when I am not tired or the moment I will try a new recipe without making a mess (or taking half a day to make it)? Why wait for what will never happen? Why not enjoy life like a three-year-old?
Here’s to summer – here’s to heat and humidity and mosquitoes and having fun in the midst of it all. Here’s to the joy of embracing summer, of trying something new and finding fun.
The last two and a half months of the year were hard. Hard like the way people describe the first of couple months with a newborn – sleep-deprived, self-doubting, I-just-want-a-break hard. It started when Leila caught a virus, exactly in the middle of October, and it ended shortly after I realized what was even happening, on the eve of a new year. In the middle of it all was some teething and a stomach bug and a cold and not much sleep at all and tantrums that would start shortly after a too early wake-up and just did not end until bedtime. It was nothing catastrophic, just enough accumulation of the more difficult combined with not enough of the stuff that makes it easier.
Maybe it was because it was so unassuming, the hard snuck up on me. But one morning in Costa Rica, as I looked down at Leila playing sweetly knowing this is exactly when I would reconnect with that deep-seeded joy and gratitude at any other moment, I just felt tired. I wanted a beach vacation with lots of sleep and yoga and juice and SOLITUDE.
One of the most succinct, helpful comments we got before Leila was born was from our pediatrician. He told us that we would have good days and we would have hard days. And though the latter rarely happened for me then, it felt as if they were every other day more recently. He told us something else. He told us that the first two months were about survival. More than anything I love this advice because it is nice to have permission to not love every second.
I remember being in the first couple months of Leila’s life and chatting with a mother that had just crossed the two-month threshold and feeling the most intense empathy from her and her leaving me with the encouragement that it gets better. I appreciated it, but the truth was I felt life could not get any better. I loved it. I got a lucky break.
…but I needed to hear something like it again. I needed permission to not love every second.
Thankfully I have really smart, empathetic friends. And when we met at the start of the year, and I shared how hard it had been, they completely got it. And they told me to get sleep. And they told me to take breaks. And they told me to set boundaries. And they told me it would get better.
And it did.
I have a new guru in my life. Her stature is not impressive. She is not even three feet tall and hardly 25 pounds soaking wet. What she lacks in size she makes up in expertise. She is highly skilled in slowing down.
Before her, I would walk briskly, absorbed in my own thought until I reached my predetermined end. Now we stop. She hugs trees. Sometimes she hugs every single branch, then kisses every single branch, then gently rests her cheek upon the branch for a moment of silence. She picks up sticks and bangs them on the ground like a primal drum. She waves the sticks on the ground, drawing intricate script beyond my comprehension. She smells flowers so small I have to bend down to see them. She picks up rocks and leaves and acorns and lifts them up to me with a smile on her face. She stops and sits…on steps, on logs, on grass. Sometimes I think we are going somewhere in particular, but she is comfortable walking without a destination.
I am quite certain one day the patience will come naturally. Until then she continues our lessons in learning walking slowly.