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My hope for 2017

January 1, 2017
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It’s New Year’s Eve 2016. I’m freshly showered, about to get ready to go out.

I’m sitting in my bathrobe when my son, Everest, notices a cut on my leg. First, he crouches down to examine it. Then he kisses it, because that’s how health and wellness works for 2-year-olds. Find the hurt, press lips to it, make it better.

A minute later he carries a pillow over, carefully places it on my leg and says, “Right here. Hold it right here.”

“Why?”

“So you won’t get hurt again,” he says.

It is a fragile thing, this love. Sometimes I don’t want to move for fear of crushing it.

I hold the pillow to my leg for a long time, afraid to let the moment go.  When I finally do, I tell my son that I’m all better, and it’s true. The cut is minimal, unremarkable. It will not leave a scar. But I want my child to know that what he did matters. I want him to know that tenderness has the capacity to heal. That his love is momentous even in its smallness.

Too often it feels like the world is whooshing past, like I’ve been plunged into a loud and rushing river, and this — this tangle of love — is the knotted rope that gives me something to hold on to. It’s pure and precious and good.

We are just a few hours into the new year now, and the future is too far away for any of us to see. It will certainly bring battles and wounds. Some of us will carry scars. Some will never heal.

My hope for 2017 is that as we move forward, we find ways to protect rather than inflict. That in the face of fear, confusion, blind panic, and downright evil, we move from arguments into action. That we find a pillow and apply it liberally.

 

To Everest: Now you are two

August 13, 2016
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I’ve seen you so often, but every day I catch myself marveling at the sight of you. You are part-boy, part-pony. Every morning you burst out of the room, spring-loaded with the energy of a horse emerging from a corral.

I remember two years ago at the hospital, holding you during one of our first days together. We didn’t know each other then. Not really. I stared at you that day, and I wondered who you were – who you would become.

Well, every day you reveal a little more, and I am delighted with each discovery.

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You are curious. You want to know every color, every feeling, every animal. You try to read all the books, and sometimes you surround yourself with big stacks of cookbooks and Baby Lit books and travel guides and picture books, and you want to devour them all. It makes me so happy.

You are hilarious. You play jokes, like surprising me by hopping out from behind a door or forcing me to sniff your stinky feet. If I don’t laugh, you laugh anyway and insist, “Funny.” You always ask for a sip of my coffee, wait a beat, then collapse in giggles. That joke slays you.

You have an endless capacity for singing “The Itsy-Bitsy Spider.” When I sing about the wheels on the bus, you joyfully chime in with “All through the town!”

Your mind is a sponge right now, and I am charmed by the incorrect words you’ve acquired for everyday objects. Telephones are hellos, a bridge is an uppy-downy, and mountains are “the big.”

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You scale the furniture and leap up the stairs and somersault across the floor and hop hop hop all over the place and run circles around the dinner table. We gave up baby gates months ago, because it’s useless to try to contain you. When we go outside, you shoot me a sideways look and say, “I run?” – then you’re off, sprinting down the road. I’m exhausted and awed by it in equal measure. I love your energy for life and your sheer physicality, and I hope I can keep up with you in the years to come.

You have no fear, so I hold it all for the both of us.

You love airplanes and elephants, monkeys and watermelon. You are on a desperate mission to hug all cats. And I can say from personal experience, your hugs are the greatest. My favorite thing is when you hold my face to carefully kiss my forehead, my nose, my chin, and both cheeks.

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Most of all, you are kind. I’m overwhelmed by your generosity, patience, and compassion. You are gentle with animals. You wait your turn with toys. When you’re playing with a ball and another kid swipes it, you shrug and move on to something else. If you have two crackers, you always try to feed me first. You talk to everyone, including the homeless people at the library – especially the homeless people at the library – and it does my heart good to see all the smiles you leave in your wake.

You are just two, but you have already made my life richer, fuller, better. I still don’t know exactly who you’ll be yet, only that I’m so happy you’re mine.

If my baby made a mixtape

November 20, 2015
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My 15-month-old son is really into music. But despite my best efforts to indoctrinate him with Ramones and the Clash, New Order and the Cure, R.E.M. and Sonic Youth, he insists on being his own person with his own particular preferences. The nerve!

His musical palate right now is situated somewhere between Burning Man and an episode of “Scandal.” I don’t know how that’s going to shake out as he grows up, but in this very moment, his taste rocks.

Here are some of his favorite jams:

Don’t You Worry Bout a Thing • Stevie Wonder

 

Tell Me Something Good • Chaka Khan and Rufus

 

Take It As It Comes • J. Roddy Walston & the Business

 

i • Kendrick Lamar

 

Alright Alright Alright • Mungo Jerry

 

Lovely Day • Bill Withers

 

Janglin • Edward Sharpe & the Magnetic Zeros

 

Friend of the Devil • Grateful Dead

 

I Love You and Buddha Too • Mason Jennings

 

6AM • Fitz and the Tantrums

That last one is no surprise, as E is up at 6 a.m. EVERY DAMN DAY.

My son’s name is the title of an action movie

September 15, 2015
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My son, Everest, shares a name with a movie, Everest, that will be released this Friday.

So it’s funny when I hear TV commercials boom, “The ultimate challenge is about to begin: EVEREST.” Sometimes I find myself looking at my own wild Everest, nodding along, like, “Yes! This voiceover guy is talking about my life.”

That’s why I took some of the movie marketing and mashed it up with my child. The results make me wish every baby came with movie taglines.

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Little Man: The One-Year-Old Update

July 21, 2015
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How are you a 1-year-old already?

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It wasn’t so long ago when I would place you on your tummy and coax you to roll over. And now you’re running.

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It’s so bittersweet. I love how quick you move, how much you learn every day, your fierce and wild independence. Yet the faster you walk, the more I feel you pulling away from me. You’re becoming a little man already, and it stretches my heart out like salt water taffy.

Most everybody tried to warn me. “Enjoy it!” they said. “It goes by so quick!” Even perfect strangers said, “You’ll miss this when it’s gone!” I hated those people. But I was delirious from a lack of sleep, my body was sticky with spit up, and I often felt like I was stuck at the bottom of a long well with a purple eggplant. A purple eggplant that screams.

If I’d realized that someday you’d stop falling asleep on my chest, I’d have relished those long, lazy afternoon naps. If I’d known how you’d leap from infant to pre-toddler, I might have appreciated those early newborn days a little more. I still wouldn’t have enjoyed the colic, but overall I might have cried a little less.

Anyway, now you are one. But it won’t be long before you are two. And then 22. And then I will die, because ACK! Too soon. I can’t handle it.

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Likes:

Frankie the Fox. Oh my god, do you love Frankie the Fox. In fact, one evening as I put you in your crib, your eyes searched the mattress, your breath quickened and you started to panic, right up until you saw Frankie in the corner. I thought, “This is foreshadowing,” and that very night your dad bought a backup Frankie for us to keep in reserves.

You also love playing outside. Your family. Lemon and Kung Pao Kitten. Duplos. Swings. Bruno Mars and Daniel Tiger. And books — it makes me proud to see how much you enjoy turning the pages to see what happens next.

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Favorite foods:

Watermelon. Kiwi. Mango. Banana pancakes. Homemade oatmeal “cookies.” Peanut butter. Sweet corn on the cob.

 

Dislikes:

Bubble bath. Swim class. Diaper changes, which are like trying to pull the skin back on a snake after he’s already shed it.

You also weren’t crazy about your birthday cake, which made me happy. That’s your last taste of sugar until you turn 18. I hope you enjoyed it.

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