Dear Asher

I started this trend a year ago (borrowed the letter format from my friend, Katie).

Dear Ash (as you are beginning to call yourself),

So you just turned six. And the ways in which I am seeing how much you have changed in recent months are astounding. Since kindergarten ended two weeks ago, I have had the privilege of spending seven days a week by your side. In the past 17 short days, I have seen you push an adult-size cart through Home Depot without crashing into anything (sort of). In that same outing, you suggested I shouldn’t buy dish gloves because dad had just bought a 10-pack. And then a few minutes later, you reminded me to buy containers for our Halloween costumes (I had forgotten to put them on my list.)

Six. Apparently, six is now old enough to keep mom straight, yo.

We also just had to buy another new pair of shoes since the Star Wars pair was already rubbing your pinky toes raw. This was unexpected because despite the rest of your little body sprouting, your feet have often stayed the same size for months on end. Until now, that is.

You’re becoming so much more outgoing and expressive. Your humor is infectious, and you make all of your friends and family laugh. You’re starting to know this, too, and are not shy to perform – break into dance, go into a stand-up knock-knock routine, or tell a mind-bending fantasy story that you are creating on the spot.

You make me smile every day.

And probably because you have picked up certain negative qualities of mine, you also drive me bonkers more than you would if you weren’t so incredibly like me – or my unbelievably strong-willed brother. We can even just say you are flat out “stubborn,” son. Let’s be honest. And this stubborn nature is a frequent topic of conversation between your dad and me. But, dear boy, we are so proud and encouraged by this aspect of you. You make us beam. Even if we scratch our heads often about how to manage your fire and strength without stifling your self-expression and natural ability to persuade.

Then, there’s the ever-present sensitive and fragile side of you, too. The part that wants to be held and still wants mama and dada in a very deep way. You want to play “baby Lucas” with me often and still cannot sleep without blanky. (Sorry I wrote all this. Don’t read this – ever.)  How lovely these things are. I am holding onto whatever sweet little boy-ness is still in you because I know it will dissipate quickly. First grade is on the horizon. And your interest in sports, friends, and school will only deepen in the coming years, as they should.

I am ready to watch you shine even more, though, Lumpy. You have asked me countless times not to call you Lumpy, Lou, Sugar Bear, Pumpkin, etc., particularly in public, but I have a really hard time with this. I mean, you are just six. Right? Figuring out the balance between big and small is challenging sometimes, but you are so good-spirited about mommy kisses, which usually come in downpours, and this is another thing I love about you.

Happy birthday, bright, beautiful angel (a few weeks late).

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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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