Friday, January 13, 2012

The Most Beautiful Morning of My Life

It began with--of all things--sleeping in. Tucking my head deeper into the pillow after checking my cell phone and its mocking numbers, "4:42" didn't apply to me this morning.

See: tag-teaming. It's the approach Jennifer and I finally realized would lead to an exponential increase in sanity with the early wake-ups. So we've been going back and forth for a couple of months now. One morning I rise at five and do stories about the Gruffalo and the mouse and the cow and the panda bear with Tyler; next morning, Jen assumes Gruffalo-central.

But the most beautiful morning of my life occurred a few weeks ago, when I got out of bed around eight to the sound of swishy-swashy, swishy-swashy, swishy-swashy. After realizing that I had not been transplanted into Michael Rosen and Helen Oxenbury's beautiful We're Going on a Bear Hunt, I snuck out of bed and walked down the stairs.

Slowly. Ears perked.

Again, the sounds came: swishy-swashy, swishy-swashy. And then this: "Ah! You be a monkey and I will be a lion Mommy!"

Then, super fast swishy-swashy-swishy-swashy-swishy-swashy.


I entered the kitchen to find Jennifer and Tyler running, roaring, laughing through what must have been a galaxy of plastic grocery store bags. A universe of them. Every grocery bag we had ever used and save in our last sixteen months in York.

Jennifer's face was drawn wide, her mouth letting the giggles fly with reckless abandon. Tyler's face mirrored Mommy's. Together, the two of them--indeed--had ceased to be Mommy and Tyler. Instead, they were inhabiting a jungle of wild grocery bags--a jungle kitchen where anything was possible.

I stood in the doorway watching the two of them, and it was one of the moments that I wanting to continue endlessly. I wanted to freeze it and yet draw it out at the same time.

Billy Collins has a beautiful poem entitled, "This Much I Do Remember." In it, he describes a simple moment in which he looks across, over the fruit bowl, at the woman he loves, and he realizes that as she is talking, it's a moment he wishes he could mint and carry around as a coin in his pocket.

My poetic prowess doesn't hold a candle to Collins, but watching Jennifer and Tyler, I could say with the poet, "Word up, Billy. I know exactly what you mean."

And I carry that morning in the pocket of my soul--I reach in and listen to it jingle. The most beautiful coin I keep.