A few weeks ago, we were en route to the local shopping mall as a way to beat the summer heat. My aunt was visiting from Pennsylvania and we were frantically trying to think of something indoors to do and, that particular morning, the mall won. One of our local malls is a place known for being the stomping grounds of the Boca elite, right on down to the fluffy dogs being pushed through Saks in bedazzled strollers. If nothing else, it's always been a clean place to stroll mindlessly in an air conditioned space, something that I did every morning before the mall officially opened when Ethan was still a tiny infant. Regardless, on this particular morning, we were about to turn into the mall when we saw a homeless man holding a sign asking for food. "Hungry" the sign had read in black, hurried writing. The tall, frail man stood there, all skin and bones and tattered jeans and a faded shirt, holding all of his belongings in a torn plastic grocery store bag around his bony wrist. My mother rolled down the window to give him the few dollar bills we collectively had and as he thanked us, we heard the sound of honking. The woman next to us, stopped at the light in her luxury sedan, felt that she owed it to the world, to this man, to let us all know how much his existence repulsed her. She stuck her hand out the window cautiously to scurry him away from our car, back up onto the median, despite the fact the light was red. Through honks, nasty faces and shouted expletives, she made it clear to this man that she thought nothing of him -- just because. Just because she felt like it, felt like both insulting him and turning it into some form of public humiliation.
This game of who has what is old and tired. No one is immune to hard times and no one should be above offering comfort and compassion to a stranger in need. I am starting to feel a little withdrawn from the world, at least our little corner of it, the more I downsize and simplify and the more everyone else around here thinks I've finally lost my mind. I'm finding it increasingly difficult to both shelter and teach Ethan, right from wrong, needs from wants, enough from excess and love from hate. It is as if, sometimes, the entire world is hellbent on teaching him a lesson other than the one I'm desperately trying to instill in him. My own little family has seen better times, times when there was more money and more, well, time, but I sleep with complacency at night that we have one another. That I fall asleep next to the love of my life every evening and that, each morning, we are woken up by our groggy little boy toting his baby doll under one arm and stuffed puppy dog under the other. These are the gifts in life that I am most grateful for. These are the moments that get me through the tough ones, the long ones, the hard ones, the tired ones.
The world has humbled me and slowed me down again with a slew of random car troubles that have found Ethan and I curled up at home, trying to figure out what we'd like to do when it feels like it should be six in the evening and yet it's not even noon. The answer has come in the form of a blow-up plastic pool from the clearance aisle at Target and an afternoon spent in it with his aunt Megan. This is all Ethan has wanted to do lately, spend time in the backyard with his blow-up pool, and I've obliged -- half out of being trapped inside without a car, and half because it's just felt nice. Nice, in a weird way, to be distanced from the world outside our little home that just seems to be moving all too quickly, and confusingly.
Lately I've felt the desire to write again in a way I haven't in so long while also questioning if this little blog of mine is the place. Before I was a wife, before I was a mommy, I was a writer and the words, they just come sometimes. It's what I do, up there with over-analyzing and staying up until far past my bedtime planning next week's tot school curriculum. I am trying to find the goodness in this world as an active part of it, the crazy mom who says no to toys and television because making gardens for the ants to play in is more fun anyway. Sometimes I see the size of Ethan's heart and all the love and kindness he stores in it and I want to cry because I feel like the world doesn't care about that -- but then he looks back from where he's been running and shouts "mommy!" and I know nothing else matters, because I care about that. I care about the beauty in his heart. I care about the fact that it's my sweet boy playing with all of the children at the park, regardless of what language they speak or what neighborhood they came from and that, maybe, just maybe, beyond all the crazy, I might be doing something right.