Last month was technically the month for being Thankful, but those weeks were taken up with meditations on the glory of my kids. And my husband is really deserving of a Thankful post of his very own. This is it. I am thankful for Justin. Amen.
For whatever reason, Justin is sitting at the very back of the van. Every seat is filled except the passenger seat, so I'm alone in the cockpit, conveying my cargo across town. It's only noon, but the sun seems to be falling toward the southwest already. Pulled by a wintertime schedule. The light is hot on my face, though, bright in my eyes. I find my sunglasses in the cupholder and in putting them on, guard myself against the piercedness of the day.
If I don't have a headache yet, it's not for lack of trying. Holiday shopping with three kids in-tow makes me twitchy and sharp. They are not silent robots, following in my wake as I'd dreamed; they are darting mice, easily lost in crowds. They are chattering chickadees, interrupting my thoughts.
Oh, and I need my thoughts while shopping. The thick crawl of people and lights and motion overwhelms me. Can you imagine me somewhere like Disney World? I would just freeze up and die from a purity of over stimulation. If I can't think straight, a coil of tension wraps itself around my spine and reaches up to my neck and then the day just has to be done. I quit. Here is my white flag of surrender, wadded up in my clenched fist.
That's a pretty fair representation of my physical and mental state while driving through traffic with Justin in the back row. One girl is probably singing, one girl is probably complaining (I suspect her coil of tension follows the same path as my own), and the baby boy is probably yelling at the top of his lungs about the indecency of rear-facing carseats.
But Justin, he's leaning forward into the wildness. He's drumming a rhythm to match one girl's tune, and tickling another girl into gigglehood. He's offering funny faces and toe-rubs to the baby. He's the ringmaster, and his performers are also his audience: rapt and adoring.
I catch his eye in the rearview mirror, and he's bobbing his head to a song that I haven't bothered to hear. The music is on, but it's just one more noise I'm trying to tune out. His lips move with the lyrics, though, and I'm curious. I turn up the volume. I've never heard the song before -- not even once -- and right there, in holiday traffic, in piercing sunlight, in a full minivan, in the wilds of mid-parenting, tears gather in the corners of my eyes.
Justin is singing now, full force, holding my gaze in the mirror, strumming his air guitar. He grins at me like he wrote the song, or at the very least, goaded the radio station to play it at this very moment.
I take what I can get. And what I get is to belong to him. I get to be his sweetheart.
A cloud overtakes the sun and just like that --
the day is no longer piercing.
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