Our morning routines have become more scheduled than they every have in the past. We wake up at exactly 7am and with the dogs clicking on the floor behind me, I open Hayes’s door and say “good morning buddy”. Within seconds he gives the cutest squeak of joy, which I pretend is for me, but I really know is his excitement to see the dogs. After he giggles and reaches for the dogs, I change his diaper and bringing him into our bedroom to feed with Megan. After some more giggles and cuddles in bed, we all walk downstairs to let the dogs out, turn on the radio, and start the water boil for coffee.
Most mornings we just let NPR play in the background and switch off keeping Hayes from grabbing the trash can, the dogs, or the countless other messes he could get into. Or if I am taking the morning shift and Megan is working, he gets in his Spoon walker and slams into everything in the house. Either, way his entire morning is just filled with joy and discovery.
One morning last week, I had a moment that just hit me. The morning news was going on about the previous night’s presidential debate. It was mostly a summary of who said what and just an open conversation about how low the bar for politics had dropped. It was in that moment, standing in the kitchen making coffee, that I realized just how much all of this political negativity was adding up in me. I began to think back to all of the recent family dinners with relatives and friends and how the conversations were unavoidable consumed by Trump and Clinton. The daily news pop-ups about the latest group Trump had offended or the email uncovered from Hillary. Without much forethought, the day before, I had just deleted the facebook app off my phone so I didn’t have to see the feed of angry posts. Just as I was thinking about all of that, Hayes ran his spoon cart right into the back of my heels and sent a shock of pain right up my legs. I instantly wanted to react and yell at him. I obviously couldn’t and wouldn’t yell at him, but as I looked down to try and calmly ask him not to destroy my legs he looked up at me with the most pride-filled look in his eyes and his arms stretching up to me. In that moment, I realized he was living in a completely different world than the rest of us. He was living in a world of beauty, joy, golden retrievers, and no sense of real pain. As I picked him up and we swung around the kitchen, I was transported out of the news cycle and was brought into the world of beauty and peace he lives in. It was one of the most meaningful moments I have had as a dad. But that moment was immediately followed by the sadness of the realization that someday he will grow older and he will know what racism, hate, and anger feels like. I want to shield him from all of it and with everything in me protect this precious world he currently lives in, but I know this is a moment in life that every parent must go through. I am only passing through this point in life as my parents and grandparents had done before me. But before I put him down, I spent one more moment hugging him before he squirmed out of my arms and crawled after one of the dogs. Even though I knew his world would change and there was nothing I could do about it, I was left feeling the sense of joy and humanity that only a toddler can bring you into.
So on this middle day of the week, if you are feeling the weight of this season, I hope you find some way to see a view of the world with that kind of innocence. Make a point to look for it. It may just help lift your spirits and help you find joy in the every day. Happy Wednesday, November 8th is almost here… so go vote.