The Heart-Covered Napkin

The heart-covered napkin lays upon the island countertop, reminding me of school notes I will be writing my five-year old this week. In trying to keep up with Asher’s dad, I will undoubtedly attempt the usual witty Dr. Seuss-like rhyming notes – “something something something (insert rhyming word)” and then repeat. All too often, however, my brain converts to something-something mode as my increasing pulse pushes me to get out the door by 8:20 a.m. (one minute more and the whole day might implode, as you are well aware.)

In connection to my current read, Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott, there is a lot of territory to write about if one simply remembers the critical nature of the school lunch. And then, there’s the note. My mother never wrote me a note, that I can recall, but I vividly remember the one girlfriend in grade school whose mom dutifully and lovingly wrote notes on her colorful flower-printed napkins each day. ‘Man, that girl’s mom must really love her,’ I used to think; however, I doubt the word “man” was part of my fourth grade lingo.

And, of course, I never would have asked my mom if she’d write me a note, probably. I mean, it would have been embarrassing to let her know I wanted one. After all, I wasn’t “little,” and I didn’t “need” her when I was at school, for God’s sakes (again, probably not part of the lingo back then).

At five, my son was able to ask for such a thing, which is one of the trillion and one things I love both about him and about “five.” Noticing his friend’s lunch note, he simply came home and said, “Mommy, will you put a note in my lunch?” How easy was that?

What a concept. I see this sweet, simple thing that someone can receive and how great it would feel, and because I have asked for it, I am now going to get it every day (well, almost – pulsing heart rate and imploding day, remember).

It definitely would have been cooler if I had thought of it on my own, I admit. But my five-year old doesn’t “get” that part yet. Why would he care if I had thought of it first? There’s no spite at five, no keeping tabs. Man, I love “five.”

So, as it gets closer to the big V day, I am reminded of two things. One, it’s actually OK to ask for what you want. And doing so can even open up more communication about such things. And two, we should sweat the small things, like Chinese cookie fortunes and love messages scribbled on sticky notes.

Growing into more of an adult year after year doesn’t have to mean these things are no longer necessary. Paying attention only becomes more important, in fact. Take notice of your loved ones. Write yourself a love note. Take the time to do more and say more than “something-something.”

 

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It took me a long while to consider the title for this blog. I wanted something that defined me both as a person and a writer. A name that would also perhaps speak to a particular audience. Why “The Astronaut Wife?” Since my early days of blogging, I have leaned toward more of a confessional style of writing, to some degree. I write as much truth as I can muster at each phase of life. In addition, I also come from a conservative Southern family, and I have grown very far from those roots. You could say I have rocketed to the moon in terms of my upbringing. I have rocketed away from debilitating family dynamics, from worldviews that held me beneath a rock. In my thirties, and now my early to mid-forties, I have learned to live more comfortably with both sides of the moon and write just as much about the raw, dark places as the light ones. Don’t quote me on that, though. It’s quite likely I will lean more heavily toward one or the other depending on which way the wind is blowing. Then, we get to the wife part, and quite frankly, this is where the feminist in me bucked and brayed. Identifying myself as “wife” has felt simply stymieing, particularly since becoming a mother six and a half years ago. But if the truth is going to be told, being a wife to my particular husband has altered my entire shape and has given voice to much of the inner deep. So in fact, becoming a wife was the singular most life-changing moment for me in my journey to the moon and back. Fellow travelers, you can feel safe and comfortable here. What matters more than what you might “get” about me is what you might take for yourself.

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