the one with the parade

I have a to do list a mile long but I want to share a story. I need to remember it. So I pour a cup of coffee and here I am this early Friday morning. I don’t know where you will be in your day or what will be on your mind. Sometimes it’s easy to get lost in myself. The dialogue of should-haves-would-haves-could-haves become acceptable clutter because it’s easier to step over these nuisances than it is to deal. But now I am keenly aware that when I do this, I am making a trade that isn’t worth it. All that head noise, it keeps me trapped on a merry-go-round and I miss out on what’s most important. It can feel overwhelming but I am building muscle in the habit of taking one thing at a time. Essentially, good housekeeping of the mind.

For example, I always try to clean the kitchen before we go to bed. It’s a small space and even at it’s worst twenty minutes is a game changer. We start the day with coffee and the simple flow of getting out mugs and having the counter space to set them on is a very small thing. Yet, even if I remind myself of this, it can easily be a trigger to frustration if I haven’t prepped the night before. “The kitchen is a disaster = life is a disaster = let’s go back to bed.” Not very logical, but is there logic before coffee?

All that to say, last week was nuts but it was also the week before Mardi Gras and we had parade fever. One night we scarfed down dinner and headed out for our first one. I wasn’t entirely sure what to expect and a little apprehensive we might not catch very many beads. (Oh, I was cute, silly girl.) First of all, let me just brag on my city. I had plenty of people catch items over my head and then share. Let me also add that while sure it’s festive and can definitely be intense, you also get to choose where you want to be and how you want to be. It’s as true for Mardi Gras as it is for life.

We found a good spot near the font of the crowd and settled in. Joy is intoxicating and spirits were high. A beautiful night filled and with lights, music, floats and colorful beads flying in every direction. It felt like a scene in a movie. We were at a family friendly corner and suddenly I was hit with a brick load of feelings. I’ll sum it but saying it was one of those moments where I miss the kids we haven’t had yet. The excitement was thick and I wanted to share the moment with him or her so badly I couldn’t breathe for a few heartbeats. What happened next was a bit unexpected. By letting myself feel it and not trying to shove it down, I had the space to recognize what was happening. “Oh, hey there, I have seen you before sadness.” And then I remembered. I used to feel that way sometimes before I met Garrett. Life would be happening and suddenly the space without him beside me would feel so empty I could feel it all the way to my toes. “The waiting is hard but it’s worth it.”

I took a deep a breath. One day… It was then I felt a pair of eyes zeroing in on me. I looked down to find her brown eyes locked on my face and her arms reaching toward me. She wanted me to pick her up. I looked around to make sure I wasn’t making the whole thing up. Her parents and sister were inches from me and I figured she would gravitate back toward them. There was no way I was touching someone else’s kid without permission. Little one’s face became impatient and she started insisting loud enough to catch the attention of her mama. Mama looked over at me as if saying, “What do you want to do?” Little one had begun waving her arms up at me. “Is it okay for me to pick her up?” I asked. The answer felt obvious. Mama smiled at me and said if I wanted. She looked to be almost nine months pregnant. “I can’t hold her long,” she gave me a smile toward her belly. Enough said. I scooped up brown eyes and felt my heart burst into a thousand tiny happy pieces. If I had been a cartoon you would have seen me become instant confetti and float along down the street with the parade. I flashed Garrett a million dollar smile and he gave me one back. We both burst out laughing. What a life we get to live. And that’s how I found myself dancing on the street with the cutest little toddler. Let me tell you, it felt so good to have her in one arm and catch her a glow necklace with the other. We gushed over the sights and sounds until she was ready to get back down and play with her big sister. That’s when it hit me. We get to love right where we are. It doesn’t have to look a certain way. And chances are that sometimes what you really need is already right in front of you.

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