Yep. This. This is spot on.
To all the rad women out there being awesome moms to their biological kids, adopted kids, foster kids, step kids, their kids’ friends, and the young people in their lives who just need a strong role model to look up to–I see you. This is the most worthwhile investment, even if it feels like you might be losing your mind at times. Keep being amazing.
One of the things I appreciate the most about my parents is they never said no to a book. Mom started reading to Lindy and I way back when we were babies. And when I started reading on my own, my thirst for stories was insatiable. I was that kid who always had a book with me (and another book or two tucked in a pocket or a backpack, just in case I finished the first one and needed a spare).
When we lived in Bird City, my summers were split evenly between the library and the city swimming pool. And every time took a road trip to visit grandparents and made a pit stop at the Walmart in McCook along the way, I would tell Mom and Dad that they could find me by the books, and then I’d take off before they could think to say no. By the time they finished their shopping and came to collect me, I’d usually have at least a half-dozen books cradled in my arms and I’d ask if I could get them. Mom and Dad always agreed to let me have one, (sometimes more than one if I chose a few that weren’t too expensive), and I’d leave the store clutching my prize and itching to settle into the back seat of the car and lose myself in a new story.
If there is anything in this life that I’m irrationally attached to, it’s books. And you know what? I’m okay with that.
Cadence had a school assignment over Christmas break this year–count the number of books you have in your house. I apologized to her before giving her a pad of Post-It notes and a little advice–go room by room and shelf by shelf. When you finish one shelf, jot the number on a sticky note, stick the note to the shelf, and repeat.
Final count = 1,308.
I’m fairly certain there are a few more books squirreled away in boxes in the basement, but we weren’t going to make her take on that excavation. And in the four months since she finished the assignment, I’ve probably added at least fifteen or twenty more to the count.
If it was anything other than books, I might have to admit I have a problem.
But here’s the thing–books are magic. And I truly believe they are the only way we humans ever get a chance to see what goes on inside the mind of another human being. They’re the only way we ever get an opportunity to step outside of ourselves and our own private world and get a glimpse of another. Only words wield that sort of power.
So yes, I hold onto them and return to them, and I enjoy walking into my house and seeing them sitting there on the shelves waiting for me to dive back in. And I love passing them onto others, sometimes mid-conversation saying, “Oh, have you read _____?” and then plucking a copy off the shelf and pressing it into their hands telling them to take it and read it and enjoy it and pass it along to someone else when they’re done because I can buy another copy if I want to replace it. There’s no better gift than the gift of a story.
Pass it on.
There are a few things in life I’m fairly certain I cannot live without, things like air and water and music. Yeah, music is right up there at the top of the list. It’s the only universal language. It’s the only thing that every human has in common (besides the fact that we’re all, well, human). We all have a favorite song. We all get caught up in a rhythm. We all find, at one point or another, that certain songs or notes or lyrics just have a way of plugging right into our souls.
Music played a big part in my life and Stevie’s life. We both took music lessons and played drums, and I sang in the school choir for a few years. And it was Stevie’s epic drum solo during my freshman Orientation Entertainment that made me fall head over heels for the guy I would marry nine years later.
When the kiddos came along, it was clear pretty early that they were tapped in too. Cadence was singing along to songs before she could even speak full sentences (and we’re not talking Twinkle Twinkle Little Star here, this girl was belting out songs like “Hold On” by Alabama Shakes and “Rapture” by Blondie and “Please Read the Letter” by Robert Plant and Allison Krauss by the time she was 3). And she started begging to play guitar shortly after. We made a deal with her–start with piano lessons and if you do well and stick with it (and don’t give us too much grief about practicing every day), we’ll sign you up for guitar too.
We’re going on almost three years of piano, and now in our first year of guitar lessons, and Cadence is killing it! Today was her guitar debut at her recital and we were so proud!
And Henry, our little shy guy, is finally starting to come out of his shell for the public performances at preschool. Two years ago, he just clung to his teachers and tried not to cry. Last year, he stood tall on the risers, but just stared at us with a little smirk on his face refusing to sing (even though 10 minutes later he gave us a perfect performance of “The Wheels on the Bus” in the privacy of our own car on the drive home). This year, there was singing, dancing, and even some rhythm sticks involved in the performance and H-man was absolutely flawless.
Now he’s even talking about learning guitar. You know, if we play this right, we just might end up with a Romano family band.