We sink into the couch.
He leans against me, our arms and legs tangled beneath the fuzziest of blankets.
Even though his warmth, this moment, our silliness are so very vivid, it’s the colors that strike me.
The yellow couch smudged in memories, the cornflower blanket stretched with moments, his eyes a blended version of Jason’s almond and my hazel.
Upstairs, the girls are having a sleepover. Music and dancing and giggles and movies and snacks and nail polish color their evening perfection.
They’ve shut the door, closing all of that goodness inside. I understand that instinct, that want, that need, to take something beautiful and try to hold onto it exactly the way it is.
And “way downstairs” Jason is working on the basement. The paint and the shelves and the toys and the books and the mess scream Change is happening here.
We’re slimming down the “Play Room” and fattening up the “Family Space.”
I like this change. I initiated it, in fact.
But like my girls upstairs, a part of me wants to close the door on the goodness that was.
The baby dolls and the blocks and the puzzles made of thick wooden pieces carefully maneuvered and manipulated and placed by each of my children’s (no longer) pudgy fingers.
Instead, I sit in this middle spot with Brody.
We’re watching E.T. and eating reese’s pieces. As we near the end, he leans a sleepy head against my shoulder.
My boy, cut from the same cloth as I am, isn’t a fan of any endings, especially not this one.
Elliot and E.T. are soul connected, but have to part ways.
The first time our family watched this classic, Jason and I weren’t sure if he’d understand the movie, sit through it, enjoy it.
When the credits closed, the girls gathered their blankets and pillows and popcorn cups. Our chatter wove with the music.
And Brody, sitting perfectly (and uncharacteristically) still, legs crossed beneath him, fingers laced in his lap like I imagine he sits at school, cried.
Oh how I understood those tears. The ones made for someone else’s hurt.
They come from that HeartTug, the one that’s somewhat inconvenient and not really ours to own and not exactly our story to tell.
But that tug, that empathy, is at the core of goodness, and not meant to be muted.
(It’s also why I love stories. And why Jason used to ban Lifetime movies.)
I met an old friend for coffee one morning.
She flew into the seat across from me, breathing a freshness into the large, quiet room I’d been sitting right in the middle of. I was one pause in her busy day.
Her voice rose and fell in quick vignettes about her really big kids that I can’t quite gasp yet, but I tried my best to wrap my fingers around our time together and the pictures she painted.
Two steps ahead of me in parenting, I look to her for what’s to come; small slices of her story that I want to weave into mine.
And that day, this is what I heard the loudest. “I always tell my kids, if you notice it, it’s yours.”
Yes, this. Exactly this.
Brody’s tears for Elliot and E.T.
His teacher’s hand pressed flat to her heart for the student that suddenly had to move.
The cashier at Target who paid for a confused, toothless woman’s groceries -tomato soup, bread, cheese, one apple- out of her own pocket.
If you notice it, it’s yours.
Step into that tug, follow that call, and do something, anything, to help.
The world is sweeter in this way, and I hope that my children (and I) are always soft enough to free fall into that tug.
We took our kids sledding early the next morning.
They went up to the biggest hill, and we stood down low watching them. Waiting for them to free fall toward us in a way that I believe is the most fun for snow-born children.
The hill seemed so big and the snow so vast and they, seemed so far and so small. I couldn’t reach them.
So I did the only thing there was to do.
I stood with my booted feet planted in the snow and waited for them to free fall, trusted them to make their own paths.
And they did.
They bounced and flew and fell and turned just at the right moment and when they skidded to a stop just inches away from me and my planted boots, spraying my toes and my scarf and even my hood with perfectly white snow, they laughed, we all did.
Because even though we’re all quite small, our tugs are big and there and when we let ourselves free fall into them, we sweeten our own lives and that of those who kiss it.