On Life, Love, and Joy

We went to the grocery store as a family. My husband had the older 2 kids in his cart, and I had the 2 year old in mine and the baby in the sling. It always fun wandering through the store. We split up to go grab different items, and meet up in the middle of aisles to re-group and check items off the list. We each end up adding a special treat of some kind of our cart, and we usually forget to pick up something we needed. We often stop by at the crab tank, not because we eat crab, just to hear the delighted shrieks of our kids as they watch the “cwab bugs” skitter around the tank.

We always run through the bakery and pick up a free cookie before we head to the check-out line. Since I am obsessive about the order of the items on the conveyor belt, I usually spend some time putting all the heavy items into one cart, and all the produce, chips and bread into the other. Then we put everything on the counter, pay, and spend time bagging the groceries (something I am equally obsessive about).

While waiting in line, Ms Action looked up at the vaulted ceiling and said “How did a strawberry get up there?” Ms Drama looked up and bounced excitedly “A strawberry! Look mom, a strawberry!” she pointed up. The check out girl looked puzzled, and we both looked up and saw that they were pointing at a lone helium balloon, trapped against the ceiling. It was shaped like a strawberry. The older girls interest moved on, but my 2 year old stayed focused.

She stared at the ceiling in awe, pointing at the balloon and whispering “stwawbewwy” to herself. “Mom! Mom! Wook at the stwawbewwy!” She yelled delightedly again and again. Everyone around us was smiling by now. Clearly Ms Pooky’s entire day was being made by this special balloon. A smile nearly split her face open as she hung her head back as far as it would go, staring at the strawberry with gleaming eyes.

We finished bagging the groceries, and it was time to go. As we pushed the carts towards the door, Ms Pooky leaned out of the cart, waving and saying goodbye to her beloved strawberry. Then she blew a kiss and said “See you later!”.

And my heart ached.

She was gorgeous, and so completely happy beyond her wildest dreams because of a simple balloon.
How much longer will her life be this simple?
How fast she will grow and change into a child, a teen and then an adult.
How many times will she get hurt?
How many times will her heart be broken?
How much longer can I keep her just like this?

As we drove home, I was somewhat melancholy. I continued to think about how fast life goes. How fast we lose that childhood wonder to the serious worries and problems of the adult world.

We waited at a stop light and suddenly a huge bright red motorcycle pulled alongside us, music blaring. I looked over and had to smile. There was a little middle aged man perched on the motorcycle, black helmet, white moustache, leather jacket. And he was dancing. J. Lo blared from his motorcycle stereo, and the little man bounced up and down singing along with the music “If you’re an animal then tear up the floor, break a sweat on the floor, on the floor.” He patted his handle bars and moved his double chin up and down “Don’t stop keep it movin’ put your drinks up!” The light changed, and just as the radio blasted “Dance the night away” he vroomed off, speeding quickly ahead of the near bye cars.

And he was adorable.

He was made as happy by his red motorcycle as my baby had been by a red balloon. Do we ever really grow out of that ability to be in awe of the goodness of life? I hope to hang onto that happiness, and pass it on to my toddlers, as they grow into children, and then teenagers. Until they are adorable middle aged people who dance to J Lo, and on into old age. I know I’ll be in awe of them and in love with them through all the stages. And I hope that they will be able to live in awe of life, and in love with living.

Because we’re never too old for joy.

Children of an Atheist talk about God
Motherhood: Same and Different
Rather Dead Than Queer
What I Understand
  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/10562805251128821984 Libby Anne

    Sally is fascinated by the moon. Every night when we're outside, she looks for it, and then jumps up and down yelling "moon! moon!" I, too, love that joy.

    And then, I sometimes dance to loud music myself, totally letting myself go and just enjoying it and the movement – though, in the solitude of my house, and in the presence of no one but my two-year-old. :-)

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/04738076740941616678 Rebecca


  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/01659200420621854710 Maggie

    This is so beautiful I had tears streaming down my cheeks! You and I are so alike, Melissa, because I too would be melancholy if Joe ever did that. Ahhh… this is such a great post!

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/05598890631695015818 Pippi

    This weekend the boys were talking to "Moony" on the way to fireworks. Libby's comment reminded me. I love those moments when they get ridiculously happy over silly things.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17871256362646081536 Amber

    Ahhhhh! You silly head! Stop making me think and cry. I'm too tired to do either. ; )

    Anyway, I do know what you mean. I've found myself often in a melancholy mood as my kids grow because it is one day closer to when they will reach school-age, then tweens, then teens, and off to adulthood. But taking a step back and really remembering that each day is a gift and they are growing up in a loving home comforts me. Sometimes. : )

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/16232186225573312896 Incongruous Circumspection

    Wickedly delightful.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/11557037093560947882 Anne

    I'm soo looking forward to all the cute and funny things my daughter will say and do! It's one of my favorite parts of having a little one (besides the soft little arms around your neck and the wet kisses!).

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/03702441292981376229 Darcy

    Thank you so much for this! Sometimes I get caught up in how hard being a mom to so many littles is and I need to be reminded what joy they can show me if I only remember to look for it. Sometimes I think that's why God gave them to me…me, of all people…because He knew I needed their perspective of joy in the little things.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/09882774610725490491 Jo

    Our hearts should always remain young, sadly people get old and serious and they loose the ability to have a good laugh and enjoy the little things in life. I want to be like that man you saw when I get older :).

    PS I am a little like you when it comes to putting your groceries on the convertor beltin the store!! It helps with packing.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/17046924507335607146 Amy

    I so so yearn for the simplicity of those moments too.
    Beautiful sweetness in the awe of a child. Such wonder and such awe.. we lost it when we define it and catagorize it don't you think?
    We learn that it isn't a strawberry, but it is a balloon and then we shove it forever to the side.

    Beautiful reminder for me this morning. Thankyou.

  • http://www.blogger.com/profile/12557248434888642114 Melanie B

    Thank God for the little ones who help us remember our joy! You are right, we're never too old, though sometimes we forget and think we are.


    I'm not sure that defining and categorizing necessarily mean an end to joy. There is another joy in definition and categorization, the delight in understanding and seeing how everything fits together, in discovering patterns. It's the delight in the big picture, the grand scheme. I think scientists especially often retain that sense of wonder and joy even as they strive to understand the complexity of the world. I think it's when defining and categorizing are made into drudge work by bad schooling is when wonder is destroyed.