Today is our Winnie’s second birthday and we are going to blow it up big—toddler-style—for her. Balloons and cupcakes and singing. A trip to her favorite place in the world: the grocery store down the street. Where she can turn the steering wheel in the green car cart and find the choo-choo train near the deli meats. We’ll even time our visit to the top of the hour so we can be there when the rooster crows in the produce department. Oh Wegmans, I hope you know how much simple pleasure you bring.
That’s the magic of this age, its simplicity. Yeah, not when she’s throwing herself on the floor in four-alarm meltdown mode because we gave her water when she wanted apple cider. No, I’m talking about the way she observes the world, breathes it in, processes it in her mind, and exhales sheer wonder and awe over it.
She has given us, her daddy and me, an invitation to notice.
An invitation to notice is a gift to two people who spent our younger parenting years questioning our competency as caregivers with our firstborn then managing chaos with twin toddlers. During our twelve year journey of parenthood, every social media company and tech gadget has been invented and then publicly traded. We’ve been pulled by those things into distraction and comparison just like everybody else. Somewhere along the way we decided that more power is better, that wealth equals happiness, that intellectual impressiveness trumps simple knowledge and practical application.
But then our Winnie came along two years ago today and flipped it all on its head. She’s given us an invitation to notice and it is one of the biggest blessings of our lifetimes.
I have slowed down more in the last 24 months than I had in the decade and a half prior. What I expected my life would look like, what success would look like, has been remolded and fashioned into something wholly different. Morning meetings have been replaced by morning walks in the woods, pointing out squirrels and birds. A “working lunch” is over ham and cheese in the booster next to me while I halve more grapes. Evening routines are for reading books, not answering all the emails I didn’t get to during the day.
These last two years have provided a new rhythm for our family. This slow movement, an invitation to notice the beauty around us. An invisible antennae enabling us to recognize when those we love are hurting, and tend to their needs. Not because our family is the model of empathy, but because we have the space to listen.
In a world that elevates the hustlers, the loudest talkers, the multitaskers, the early learners, the big deal makers, Winnie gives us an invitation to notice that the small, unhurried life is often the more rewarding. That the joy of the ordinary is most extraordinary. That those who take their time will find the time.
In the early morning hours of my last baby’s second birthday, I am labeling this day not as perfect because there will be moments of trial. She is two after all, you guys. I’m calling it more than enough. Because that is what Winnie has been for our family. More than enough love. More than enough joy. More than enough laughter. More than enough of everything. She’s changed our course. We’re charting a new one now.
Pictures by Carrie Coleman Photography