How Pretty the World Is

“Show me how pretty the world is.. Cause I want something a little bit louder.. “

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The words come in loud through the speakers of my minivan. Four kids sit in the rear seats. Ten years ago, the same words bleared through speakers of a crowded bar. I was in my boyfriend’s arms jumping to the beat in a hip spot, The Troubador, listening to Matt Nathanson sing his heart out. “Show me how pretty the world is.. tonight.” The words play on, tugging at my heart like the strings on a violin.

“I never thought that I could be who I am
I never thought that I could see where I was
I never thought that all this was wasn’t me
I always thought all this was could never be..”

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I never thought this would be me. I never thought that I could be who I am, this girl, this mother of three wild and beautiful children. I laugh as I type “girl,” still 31 and I call myself girl. My husband corrects me saying, “You are 31 years old, you are not a girl. You are a lady or a woman or ‘Mam or surely something other than a girl.” Not in this moment, though. In this moment I am 19 again, carefree and in love. I blink and in this moment I am 31, happy and in love but of a different degree.

I have learned that love is more than that feeling of your boyfriend’s arms holding you tightly in a loud bar, more than the music touching you and feeling a connection, more than saying “I do” and seeing sparks fly.

Love is watching him rock your baby to sleep, hearing him whisper secrets in her ear and watching the ensuing smile spread across her precious face. Love is lullabies sung late at night to calm her five year old fears, arms wrapped around each other in bed, holding each other tight before dawn, before the alarm sounds and it is all over or it is all about to begin. Sometimes it is hard to tell which one is happening. Life and love, they are always ending and beginning and circling and weaving us throughout this life.

Love is bigger now, stronger, more. The sparks don’t fly as freely. There are kids and arguments, parenting disagreements and issues and he hasn’t slept through the night in days and neither has he and our house is dirty, I am dirty. I run too much, he works too much. There is not enough “me time” or “us time” or time. It all flies by with such rapidity while the hands barely move. Time ticks on. Ten years and three kids later, I hear these words in a different light.

Three layers of sweat from three multiple runs and one good hike today coat my body in a sticky mess where bugs come to die. The sink is full of dirty dishes hovering in cold water, begging to be cleansed. Wet sopping clothes await my arrival downstairs in the washer. They have surely turned mildewy hours earlier after patiently and silently giving up on me. I can smell them from the floor above. Wait, maybe that is me. Either way, life is dirty. It is hard, it is messy but then the sparks fly, a song brings you back and just like that you remember to see how pretty the world is.. because it really is freaking pretty.

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Today we ran, we played hard at the park with friends and neighbors and dogs and about 50 tennis balls. We took a trip to the Discovery Cube, raced cars, learned about friction and wind and storms and weathering it out. Then afternoon came and I ran again but this time in a hard, punishing way just to feel something a little bit louder.

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We hiked, late into the night, saw the sunset, watched children climb on steep cliffs and jagged rocks, cringed and held our breath as they joyously rushed back down to earth, back to their Mamas.

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“Show me how pretty the world is, ’cause you’re brilliant when you try.” Kids show us in every movement, with every natural sway of their body on a mountain trail. They show us the beauty, remind us to live, to really live, to quit acting like we are adults and grown-ups rather than girls and boys just trying to see the beauty, trying to feel the sparks, the warm embrace of our first crush.

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