I find myself thinking differently on this New Year’s Eve.

Rather than reflecting on the events of the previous year, I find myself dreaming about the milestones of the next.

2014, I believe we may become quite fond of one another.

Come on, January. I’m rooting for you.

Too Much for One

Robb and I were flying somewhere on our own, long before the days of traveling with strollers and carseats and board books and goldfish crackers and a smile that asks forgiveness from everyone around us.

Unbeknownst to me, he planned a surprise for our flight: he upgraded our tickets to first class.

It’s the one and only time I have ever flown first class, and I was so unaccustomed to it that I didn’t really know how to appreciate it.

“Oh, but the leg room,” boasted my broad, long husband. I couldn’t reach the footrest on the seat in front of me.

“And the food!” I had packed my own favorite snacks.

I do have to give it to him: the steaming warm cloth to refresh the pores of my weary traveling face? This was a nice luxury.

But here’s the thing: I’m a ‘nester.’ I love a space that’s just big enough for me. When I was a little girl, I loved to make a little cave under a desk or behind a bookshelf. Just enough space for me.

When we were on a family road trip, I loved to be in the ‘way back’ with luggage packed around me. Just enough space for me.

Roadtrips are similar for me, even now. I bring a blanket or hoodie or small pillow, something to fill the space with me, and I keep all my bags tucked around my feet.

I’ve been known to stack pillows around me if the comfy chair is too wide; I sleep on my side with pillows at my back, since there is currently nobody to occupy the space. I like to be in a space made for me, just big enough.

I’m a nester.

On that first class flight, I was downright unhappy. You can perhaps imagine the point of contention this caused between the gracious husband who had splurged to surprise, and the wife who chose airline seats with a pickiness similar to the Princess and the Pea.

But I think I get it now, all these years later.

One person can only do so much. There are limits to what one person can do alone, finish alone, plan for alone, and accomplish alone.

It’s just really hard for one person to fill a space made for two.

Okay, maybe not Never.

“Mommy!  I have been looking everywhere for you, and I thought you left me!”

He was on the verge of tears as he found me in the Target aisle.  I was not far, I had my eye on him, and he had been safe.  He just didn’t know those three things were true.

I got down on his level, the only way to truly make eye contact and a direct point.  “Buddy, listen to me.  I will never, ever, ever leave you.  When you go anywhere with me, you can know for sure that I will bring you back home with me.  I will never leave you.”

His brother tapped me on my shoulder.  He leaned in close, whispering in my ear, “Mommy, I do have to tell you: I’m planning to go to college.”

The Morning Mom Told The Truth

See, the thing is, the moment was perfect. I was poised and ready, perfectly positioned to blow Santa’s cover.

“Mommy, can you tell me why the box in your room said ‘To Tucker, from Santa,’ when it wasn’t even Christmas morning yet and Santa hadn’t been here yet?”

And here it is. My moment in time to kick the red punk in the shins and take the glory for myself. I gathered my cherubs around me for a moment we would all remember, the morning Mom Told The Truth.

I said, “Let’s talk about things that aren’t real. Like… Big Bird. Is he real?”

They laugh knowingly. “No, of course Big Bird isn’t real. And neither is Elmo.”

But we’ve never actually talked about how Elmo and Big Bird function and exist if they are not in fact real. And suddenly we were teetering a little too close to my own moral code of magic undefined.

I didn’t know where to take the conversation. Next in line would be Mickey and Minnie, and they are woven into our family fabric. Disney princesses… no, no. Cinderella is my own personal fantasy. And for that matter, so is Princess Anna. The tooth fairy? She may be forgetful, but she gives courage for all that wiggling and loosening and bleeding.

“But it’s fun for children to believe in them, Mommy.  If you ask, like, a two-year-old or a four-year-old, she would say, ‘Oh yes!  Elmo is real!'”

In that moment, I knew that if I showed them the wizard behind the curtain, I would alter their view of the entire world. They would question it all, all the fun of pretending and the joy of not knowing for sure.

Once you know, you know. You can’t give back the knowing.

So, I said, “Well, that tag was on that gift because… well, I was just helping Santa out.”

“That was nice of you, Mommy.”

“Yes. Well, you know. It’s what moms do.”

I bailed.  Santa lives to see another year.

Too Much Charm

We are ice skating.

Well, they are.

I’m just coming off a sledding injury, if you might recall.  So I’m on the sidelines today, tightening laces and calling out words of encouragement. This I can do with minimal risk to myself.

So many of these skaters remind me of Gumby; their arms and legs stretch impossibly far as they lunge toward or away from the handrails.  Half the parents are wearing shoes instead of skates. Equally as many are skating with iPhones in their hands.

There’s a startling number of little girls in Christmas dresses, all fluffy and perfect except for the soggy knees of their tights. I can’t really imagine the scenario from my childhood that might have prompted my parents to take me directly from a dress-worthy event to the skating rink.

There is a gaggle of girls all dressed alike, in Coumbia fleeces and black leggings, scarves and straight hair that I couldn’t maintain even in zero humidity. I want to whisper to them, “You all look exactly the same in your differences; you know that, right? It’s okay. It’s part of the life stage. You work so hard to look different that you look impeccably the same.”

It’s 57 degrees outside. My children are happy and warm, skating with no jackets.

The only thing that could make this any better is if someone could think of a reason to turn on those white lights overhead, even though it’s the middle of the day. But that give this whole scene just too much charm.

We better leave everything as it is.