Once, when my older son was about 3, not long after his brother was born, he started a list of all the things he loved. He was inspired by the large roll of paper we were drawing on and the urgent need to capture the incredible greatness of everything. He dictated; I wrote. He had a LOT to share, and I had trouble keeping up. At one point he stopped to take a breath, looked over at me and commanded: “Mommy, you do it, too.” Good idea: next to his list, I wrote the heading “Things Mommy loves” and underlined it. I wrote 1. Then I hesitated.
“Love” is such a big word. There are many things I like, but things I love? I wanted his expansive, all-encompassing list, but I could only think “my children, my husband” in the most common and inane way. I wanted to feel his urgency, but instead I was mired in uncertainty, unwilling to commit, unable to generate even one thing. I rejected everything: yoga? I mean, I really enjoy it, but love it? Maybe ice cream? How silly is it to start with ice cream? Teaching? I love teaching, but what does it say that my list of things I love starts with my job? I got tangled in my own head and couldn’t get myself unstuck. My toddler loved THE WHOLE WORLD and I couldn’t write anything. I was exhausted and I was nearly in tears. My child had no interest in my existential crisis.
“Mommy!” His little voice was imperious. “Do you like fudge?”
“Well, yes,” I hesitated.
“Then write that down.”
And my love blew the world open again.
This memory returned to me when I saw Elisabeth Ellington’s 12 things I love slice. I was inspired. (She, in turn, was inspired by Margaret Simon who was inspired by two others.) With a nod to those who came before me, and special gratitude to my son, who continues to teach me to love, here are 12 things I love.
12 Things I Love
- I love fudge. (Because even though if I stopped to think about it, I would probably list it under “likes”, it counts. Everything counts.)
- I love chai tea, creamy with milk, in the morning
- I love the way my 7-year-old hums and sings as he goes about his day.
- I love reading a book that’s so good I stay up past my bedtime or sneak paragraphs in the car before picking up the children.
- I love breakfast. I love that we eat breakfast together as a family. I love that we make big elaborate breakfasts on weekdays and then laze around and eat dry cereal on the weekends.
- I love when the phone rings and the caller ID tells me it’s one of my sisters or one of my best friends. I love that sliver of time before I press “talk” when I’m already smiling.
- I love ice cream. I especially love Breyer’s vanilla ice cream with real vanilla beans. Because that is the best.
- I love starry nights at the beach.
- I love teaching. I love being in the classroom, getting to know the kids, trying to figure them out, trying to show them why I love literature, helping them find their own voice and their own love.
- I love yoga. I love feeling my body stretch out and my mind pull in to focus on body and breath, breath and body.
- I love baths. Long, hot baths are one definition of luxury.
- I love.
Day 13 of the Slice of Life Challenge