“Thank you,” Lu said over her shoulder as she left the dinner table, carrying her plate to the kitchen. “Thank you for dinner, Daddy.”
Danny grinned, paused a moment to right his voice, and said, “You’re welcome, sweet pea.”
For years now, it seems, we have been reminding Lucy to say thank you. We hand her a peeled satsuma, but before we put it in her outstretched hand, we say, “What do you say when someone gives you something, Lu?” Thank you. For a solid year, we had to remind her every hour. It became a mantra, the most familiar chant in the house, along with please. (We’re still working on that one.) Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.
I want my daughter to grow up in gratitude. I don’t want to her to walk through the world and not notice the gift of it. The splash of her brown boots from Alaska in the puddle by the car. The way the lights on the Christmas tree are cool to the touch when we first turn them on. The sound of the sizzle as onion hits skillet. It’s all such a gift, if we listen.
Lately, her language has been exploding. And that has meant an accompanying lack of sleep in our house, as her brain churns and spins, wishing to tell stories and understand her day more fully at 2 am. Yesterday morning, she said to me, “Mama, could you please push aside your coffee cup before I climb on your lap, because I’m worried it might burn my leg.” Um, okay. It’s an honor to hear her stories. When I’m tired, I look down at my yes tattoo and remember this is what I wanted. This is the life we created. This is now. And the gift of this language explosion is that thank you pours out of her without our goading now. Thank you, Mama.
Thank you for the incredible outpouring of love and comments on Twitter and Facebook, emails and kindness, about the post I wrote yesterday. If you read the post, you’ll know I didn’t write it for that. I sat in the cold office, clear light pouring in, and I typed. I wrote. I just wrote.
You see, this is what I do. I write. I do many other things too. I adore cooking. I’m fuelled by the challenge of a new baking project. (Lately, Lu has been saying, “When I grow up, I’m going to be a baker.” And I’m a little teary when I hear it.) I love picking up the camera and noticing the light more fully. But at the heart of me, when I really am quiet and know what I need, I write.
Somewhere along the way on this site, I lost the writing. Oh, I’ve written words. Lots of words. But in a flurry of making money for our family, and listening to the voices that said I should do more, and why can’t you give me more baked goods, and Thanksgiving is freaking me out, and I need your recipe to be in cups or be dairy free or perfectly suited for me without my having to adapt it, I lost the writing. I haven’t been telling stories. And something inside me has been withering.
That’s why I wrote what I did yesterday. But it’s also why that post signifies some big changes here.
Some of you misunderstood and thought we were going to stop creating this site. Nothing close to it. In fact, this feels a little like rebirth. I’m giddy to write again. As soon as Lucy went to preschool, I pulled out the laptop and started typing these words. We might be updating more often for awhile than we have.
(But let me tell you, when the preschools close for the winter break, between December 18th and January 2nd, we’re going to be quiet here. We want our time with our daughter. We’ve always tried to work when she’s not here. And we’re keeping to that.)
Instead, the gratitude and the new energy come from a simple choice: we’re not trying to please anyone anymore. We just want to create, both of us. No more schedules. No more expectations. We’re just going to wake up every morning and decide what we want to cook. We’re going to wait for the light to tug at us until one of us picks up the camera. I’ll watch Danny cooking and start making a video because the rhythm of his knife chopping against the board moves me so. And there will be some days we’ll be silent. Maybe many days.
Quiet is so under-rated.
I have no idea what all this means. It might mean that a few months from now, we might be broke. (We do have new sponsors coming on soon, and we’ll be happy to share them with you.) We could certainly make more money by running a site that’s geared toward commercial success, not filled with long, rambling posts about gratitude.
But this is what we want to give. I want to write. Danny wants to cook. We want to stick in the place of not knowing, of creating every day, and of gratitude.
And as I wrote this, Danny came home from taking Lu to preschool, with a big bouquet of kale, collards, and chard in his hands. “This is my version of flowers,” he said, handing them to me. We’re always going to be sharing our food here.
But for now, taking my reminder from Lucy, I just want to say —— thank you.