The Grinch

Grinch_growing_heartMy wife likes to compare me to the Grinch. Not because I hate Christmas, but because, according to her, my heart grew three sizes when my son was born.

I have never been a very affectionate person.  I don’t say I love you enough to the people I care about.  I am not much of a hugger, an arm-around-the-shoulder or cheek-kisser. It’s just not in my nature.  Maybe I just assume everyone around me knows exactly how I feel about them so there is no need to express it physically or vocally.  The word “love” slips out of my mouth less frequently than so many other four-letter words that when it does I almost feel the need to apologize. 

I was worried my son would be like me, a heart noticeably small.  Certainly, there are traits I own that I would gladly see reflected in my son.  My undersized heart is not one of them.   Not only did I never want him to wonder whether or not I loved him, but I also didn’t want his future wife or children feel distant from him.

This past Sunday, my fears were assuaged.

sean-do-782269-unsplash.jpgThe headset crackled with my son’s loud laughter.  He was only a few rooms away but he always insists we use the headsets when we play video games together.  It’s our favorite way to spend lazy, rainy Sundays together.  

“Okay Dad, I am gonna switch teams now so you won’t be able to hear me anymore.  I love you.” With those words, the mic goes quiet for a split second before gunfire erupts in my ear as he begins to mercilessly kick my butt once again.

At that moment though, I was no longer concerned with winning the game.  I was too busy beaming with fatherly pride.  My son, who is often more teenager than first grader, just told me he loved me without any prompting.

It may seem like a small moment, but it was important.  It was confirmation that my efforts to be more vocal about my feelings were working.  It was some sense that, in spite of the million mistakes I make daily as a parent, I was at least getting something right.

I don’t know if my heart grew three sizes when my oldest son was born or not, but I do know, hearing him say “I love you” makes my smile three times wider.

“Love, and you shall be loved. All love is mathematically just, as much as the two sides of an algebraic equation. ” Ralph Waldo Emerson

 

 

Baggage Claim

I’m at the airport.  I’m only waiting for someone to arrive I’m not
actually going anywhere.  It’s a unique perspective, waiting. Typically at the airport, you’re hurried and anxious.  You have security screening and
baggage checking, you have to locate your gate and pray the screaming
baby you pass is on another flight.  Today, however, I am onlairport-architecture-dawn-227690y a spectator.  I’m an outside observer and what I see is beautiful.

Cars pull up to the curb and families step out.  Travelers with their
baggage smile broadly and hug their loved ones.  They lean down and kiss the
small children and caress the infants.  An elderly father extends his hand to his grown son for a handshake only to be pulled in for a hug as both men laugh.

Ahead of me, people are arriving.

They walk out of the baggage claim all
smiles to world outside filled with outstretched arms.  At the end of the roadway, a
young girl holds a small bouquet of flowers for her grandmother.  She
is patient at first as her grandmother slowly makes her way
toward them. Soon her excitement overcomes her and she rushes
towards her grandmother.  Tiny legs eliminate the distance between them in seconds and
she wraps her arms around her grandmother.  They too embrace.

I wonder how many times I’ve passed right through this same display without
blinking.  I sit and think how amazing these moments are and how
wonderful that I’ve caught a glimpse.  A window into a world filled with love and care, excitement and hope for the future,  well-wishes and hearty greetings.

In the moment, I smile. I recognize my wife pulling her too-large suitcase and
smiling through her exhaustion.  And so I too join the cast in this familiar expression of humanity.  I smile and embrace my wife.  As I release her I hope to myself that someone else is waiting for a loved one and notices our embrace, sees the beauty in this
unconventional place and smiles.

Solitus Sum

Solitus Sum: I have been accustomed.

It’s 10:45 am on a Tuesday.  I’m standing at yet another park watching my rambunctious toddlers race through a maze of colorful plastic playground.  My oldest son flies down the slide with a scream and wood chips scatter as his feet hit the ground.  He looks over at me for approval.  I smile and then look back down at the screen in my hands.  A small brown and yellow bird lands next to my youngest son who exclaims, “Buud!” as he shuffles towards it with arms outstretched.  I smile at him as the bird lifts into the sky and then I once again look down at the glowing light in my palm.abandoned-grass-light-571249

I have become accustomed to my life. I assume these moments are ubiquitous, when in reality they are unique.  I am not intentionally ignoring life as it blows by me in a flash of color, it’s just that I have become accustomed to it.  It happened over time.  Little by little amazing moments became routine.

One of my favorite excerpts is from Ralph Waldo Emerson’s essay on Nature.  “If the stars should appear one night in a thousand years, how would men believe and adore; and preserve for many generations the remembrance of the city of God which had been shown!”

It’s easy to become accustomed to seeing the stars every night and miss their beauty.  This blog is my attempt to force myself to notice the beauty in every day moments.