“Moooommmy, I need to show you sumfin,” Parker whispered into my ear. I opened my eyes to see him resting his elbows against the bed as he watched me intently. “Follow me, Mommy!”
Slowly, I rolled out of bed and plodded behind him as he walked urgently downstairs. I suspected that our final destination was the kitchen where my homemade birthday cake was resting on the counter. It had been baked and frosted by my amazing Dad (thanks, Popeteo!) the night before, and I was fairly certain that Parker had already feasted on handfuls of icing just as the early morning light snuck in through the window.
But I was wrong. Instead, he bypassed the kitchen and walked into the play room calling, “See, Mommy! Look, der’s poop,” as he pointed at the rug. Sure enough, there was poop right in the middle of the floor. We have no indoor pets so there were only two suspects, and we all know that usually it’s the perpetrator that comes back to the scene of the crime.
“What happened?” I asked.
“I had a go potty and da poop dust went plop,” Parker explained.
There you have it, folks. Sometimes the poop just goes plop. You don’t stand a chance of escaping the mess you are walking into.
This sums up the previous year quite well for me. Yes, there was some poop, but there was also some amazing cake. I suspect the last year will be one I come back to for the rest of my life. It has changed me, challenged me, and in truth, I am still reckoning with much that has happened.
As I turn 34, I’m learning to embrace simplicity, to breathe, to notice. I’m learning that clean houses are overrated, that the people in our lives matter most, that your kids will make you look like an idiot every single day. I’m learning to listen to that small voice within, to reach out when I need help, that there is no one way to live a life, and that love always trumps fear. I’m learning that beers taste better in good company, that laughter is underrated, that the simplest acts are often the most profound. I’m learning to find quiet time, to be more intentional, to enjoy this ride. I’m learning about who I am and about who I am becoming.
One of the greatest gifts of the past year was that I found my way back to writing. It has been the boat that carried me along in so many ways. It has captured a year’s passing in thousands of words, dozens of stories, millions of moments. Each written piece feels like a song from my heart.
And it all started because of the fateful day my dentist found a lump on my thyroid. I’m not sure I would have ever taken this leap without that storm. Like I said, there was some poop, but there’s also been some cake.
I keep coming back to the poem below. And this year, as I turn thirty-four, I am especially thankful to be able to contribute my very own verse.
O Me! O Life!
By Walt Whitman
Oh me! Oh life! of the questions of these recurring.
Of endless trains of the faithless, of cities fill’d with the foolish,
Of myself forever reproaching myself, (for who more foolish than I, and who more faithless?)
Of eyes that vainly crave the light, of the objects mean, of the struggle ever renew’d,
Of the poor results of all, of the plodding and sordid crowds I see around me,
Of the empty and useless years of the rest, with the rest me intertwined,
The question, O me! so sad, recurring – What good amid these? O me, O life?
That you are here – that life exists and identity,
That the powerful play goes on, and you may contribute a verse.