outside

Sometimes there are moments when you can suddenly see your family from outside of itself. You might be sitting at home all snuggled up on the couch together watching Despicable Me and suddenly you can snap a mental snapshot of this happy little moment. Click. Save As: "Snuggle Bugs." More often, you suddenly realize the world is watching and taking your little family in. You HOPE it is for something positive and not for an epic tantrum, but that happens too. It happened while we were skating New Year's Day. I was skating as fast as I could to keep up with Caroline and I could see the world watching us, other families smiling at our game of cat and mouse that she was clearly winning, taking us in, observing us.

This weekend we ended up at a local restaurant known for excruciatingly long waits. Steve dropped Connor and I off in front to go begin the waiting process, while he and Caroline hunted for a parking spot. It was nearly twenty minutes before he and Caroline walked in the door. By then, Connor was done with standing and had found himself to my shoulders. I told him his job from up there in the crow's nest was to locate his sister and Daddy. He kept his eyes fixed on the door and when he saw him, he began celebrating and kicking his legs and announcing to me, "there they are, I see them, I see them!!" I couldn't see him because he was on my head, but I watched a young couple across the very crowded entryway look up at him. He looked up at the commotion, smiled, tapped her shoulder and pointed up to him and together they smiled and watched the whole thing unfold. They watched the happy greeting of son to father and brother to sister and smiled again for a moment before going back to their conversation about the weather or their plans later or who knows what. It was a moment, but they saw it and I saw it through them. I was watching from outside of us, a simple happiness in an otherwise ordinary situation waiting for cheesecake. Swift and over, falling to pieces moments later in an argument over the glow paint on the iPad.

Sometimes it is the simplest of things that catch you. It is often the most ordinary that are the most compelling. Even when it isn't for such a cute family moment, but maybe instead is a child screaming "NO" after he drops the last bite of a granola bar in the parking lot and refusing to move another inch (true story). Even then I have noticed that it isn't disapproving glances, but knowing looks and sympathy that I often see around us. You can be outside of yourself, for a moment, watching by watching someone else. 


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