Monday, March 10, 2014


Last year, I would tell people winters in Minneapolis are not that bad.  I would say at least we can play in the snow, ice skate at the park, go sledding, be out in it.  In Cincinnati, it's just wet.  You can't play outside when it's wet, but you can play outside when there's snow.  I would rather have snow than puddles any day.

But today it is so, so wet, and I've never been happier to meet a puddle.  To slosh through puddle after puddle, to feel the drip of melting ice on my head as we pass under doorways, to hear the gentle spray on the wheels as the car glides through a puddle that was only days ago a sheet of ice.

This winter there was little play in the snow.  This year, like a nasty guard dog, the wind would bite and yowl if you tried.  It snowed and snowed and piled and piled.  By the time the temperature got warm enough to challenge the wind, it was almost too deep for sledding, but just right for disappearing.  Snow angels and snow men were buried alive.  Today we finally saw the top of our snowman's hat again.  Maybe tomorrow we'll see the top of his bikini.

Today for the first time in months we delight in the splash we feel beneath our feet.  Our boots are off, our shoes are on, our toes feel light and wiggly.  Coats are on, but hats, scarves and mittens are sitting in their boxes at home on the shelf.  And the sun is so full, so bright, so hopeful, I want a giant straw to slurp it up.

This year, I would tell people winter in Minneapolis isn't just bad; it's brutal.  It bites you when you step outside.  Bites you hardest on the little parts, the fingers and toes.  When it's that cold, -45, -55, the blood just freezes, stiffens, stops flowing, stops creating movement.  Everything wet, hardens.  Boogers, moisture in the skin.  A chap sets in, a thirsty chap.  Everything is hard, crunchy.  Beautiful, but painful.  Sparkly, but lonely.  No one leaves, no one visits.  I hesitate to even put the garbage out, get the mail, return a library book, knowing it will take a while to recover from even a short blast.

And Minnesota was not alone.  The Polar Vortex dipped deep and North and South both got a taste for the sting of the arctic.  We tried not to be crabby, but we were crabby.  Five degrees or -10 degrees--at a certain point, when the wind chews your face off, cold is just cold.

And yet, Minnesotans were still out in it.  Still Polar Dashing, Polar Plunging, Polar picnicking, the beer frozen solid in their cups.  Trying to keep living despite the fact that everything around us was dead.

But today the payoff is here.  The world is covered in dark, dirty, sloshy snow.  Pick up your pants and don't drop anything.  It's gross out there, a pool of dark water all around, piles of black snow lurking in the periphery, still no real place to play.

And yet, if you look down to save your shoes, to step over and around, you'll notice your own reflection, something that can only occur when there is light.

You'll notice the ice speckled with holes filling with water, something that can only happen when there is heat.

You'll notice a gradual filling up as you reach for your sunglasses and turn up toward the sky, something that can only occur when there is...gratitude.

Gratitude for sunshine, birds, and puddles that stain your pants.

Gratitude for green beneath white.

Gratitude for thaw, for movement, for breathing deep, and walking without footprints.

Gratitude not just for living in the light...but for rising from the dead.

Saturday, March 1, 2014

That's Incredible

"That's incredible!"

It started with that.  Impossible to believe, extraordinary, spectacular, magnificent, astounding, awe-inspiring.  Incredible was the perfect word.

There was jumping up and down and because he was really excited, he declared, "I'm gonna punch myself in the penis!"  And then he did and said, "Aggghh!"  It's super weird, but he's five and I guess his penis is the bee's knees, and pretend punching it is about as funny as it gets.  It's actually a high compliment.  I've come to understand this.

Then, it was puzzlement.

"Ok, but how will it get out of there?  Will you rip?  Show me where it will come from?"  And he gestured to my body like it was a map.  He needed a location.

"I don't want Mommy to rip," Charlie frowned, not understanding a whole lot of what was going on, but apparently horrified by this idea.

"No, I won't rip," I lied, "It will come from around here."  I gestured vaguely wanting to move on from this part of the conversation before it got anymore involved.

Then, he threw his head back and sobbed.  Big rolling tears came pouring down his cheeks.  Worry, concern, fear, sadness filled him up all at once.

"But now I won't be able to love Charlie anymore!  I won't be able to take care of Charlie because I'll have to take care of the baby!"

David answered through his own cloud of tears, "Oh, Finny.  Your love will just grow."

"But, I like our family.  I don't want it to change."

And immediately I began spewing examples of cousins, friends, family, everyone I could think of who welcomed a third baby into their family and how wonderful it was and how excited they were and how much they loved it.

He smiled.  Excited again.  And it went on like this.  Up and down between excitement and fear.  Wanting a picture of the tiny white bean in the black sac of the ultrasound picture. Not wanting it.  Loving it.  Fearing it.  All at once.

Now that he's processed it a bit, he's been nothing but excited.  He kisses my belly whenever the mood strikes and randomly announces to anyone who will listen, "There's a baby in my mommy's belly."  Proud.

I had to pick him up a few days ago to reach a tall public bathroom sink in order to wash his hands, and he knit his brow.

"Ok, but Mommy, I think this is one of the last times you should pick me up because I'm getting bigger and the baby is getting bigger and I don't want to hurt you."

Protective.  Loving.  My knight.

People ask me if they should think pink.  They ask me if we're hoping for a girl.  Maybe you'll be lucky and have a girl.  And wouldn't it be lovely to have one of each.

And wouldn't it be lovely to have another one of these?  A sweet boy, a prince.  A rough and tumble and soft and sensitive little boy.  Another one.  I have three boys in my life who wrestle and tackle each other, who pull each other's fingers and sword fight over the toilet, who shoot each other with fart guns and who think poopy and penis and butthead are some of the funniest words on the planet.

And I have three boys who cry when they watch Up, when Sulley says goodbye to Boo, when Mufasa gets trampled by the wildebeest.  Three boys who tell me I look like a princess whenever I put on a dress.  Three boys who love nothing more than a good snuggle on the couch and a good back scratch.

I have two boys, yes, and a girl would be something different.  But, so would another boy.  I have a Finny who is thoughtful and contemplative, wise beyond his years, spirited and emotional, sensitive and energetic, imaginative and artistic.  I have a Charlie who talks tough and makes mean faces, but who cries at the slightest reprimand, "Daddy, you yelled at me!"  A Charlie who can tell you when he's listening to Florence and the Machine or Michael Jackson or Mumford and Sons.  A Charlie who loves hats and costumes and wants me to call him Batgirl, Spidergirl, R T Do 2.

They wear me out.  But not because they're boys.  Because they're children.  So think pink or blue or whatever you want.  At the end of the summer, I'm gonna be somebody else's mommy and that, some might say, is nothing short of...incredible.