I love Saturday mornings when the kids are due for their hair cuts. Every four weeks, I drive Nathan and Liam to Cookie Cutters, and every eight weeks, Kara joins us. I love the 20-minute drive to the strip mall, nursing a thermos of coffee, listening to happy chatter from the backseat and catching random lyrics from She and Him, Laurie Berkner or the Lumineers, depending on how well I've planned ahead. At the end of our route, we have to pass through the tunnel of a train bridge, and even while it's just a tiny dot in front of us, Kara and Nathan go out of their minds trying to find an engine on the tracks.
For 15 minutes, they sit on tractors, race cars and swivel chairs watching Nick Jr. while gold and brown strands fall from their heads to the floor. Scissor cuts, because Nathan has the perfect boy mop and Liam please don't give me a heart attack he's the only baybee I have left. But we do pull out "the buzzers" for the boys, to clean up around their ears and neck. Liam takes it like a champ, but since the age of two, Nathan has struggled. The combination of sound and sensation is just too much for him, and he turns into a puddle of giggly nervousness the minute the switch is turned on. Oftentimes I have to hold his head so the hair stylist doesn't nick his skin. I used to be supremely embarrassed about this, until suddenly I wasn't. I learn valuable lessons every day as a mother, but by far the most precious is patience.
Once the grooming is done, everyone is free to zip down slides and ask for balloons and it isn't long before we're back in the car, looking for trains. Such a simple outing - it rarely lasts longer than an hour - but when I reflect on the pace of a happy life, these mornings are examples of perfection.
On November 2, Luke achieved a bucket-list accomplishment: completing a marathon before he turned 40. My father-in-law graciously watched the kids so I could gallivant around town unencumbered, catching Luke at various milestones along the route. We froze together outside the corral, waiting for the race to begin, and when the time came for him to join the other runners, I cried like a baby. The emotions I felt for him that morning rivaled those of our wedding day.
Once Luke was off, I was, too. In addition to cheering him on at the start, I caught him between miles 2 and 3 at the Soldiers and Sailors Monument downtown, mile 18 at the Indianapolis Museum of Art and the finish line near the state capitol.
What a time it was - a mixture of awe in my husband, pride in our city and thankfulness to be part of such a big moment in so many people's lives. Luke started training for this race in July, and because of my work schedule, 95% of his weekday runs happened at five in the morning. He ran when he didn't want to, took breaks to treat injuries, and worried more than once that he just wasn't ready. This entry from Zoot about the power of a goal race explains it better than I can at this late hour, but this quote nails it:
Crossing a finish line is about so much more than the race itself, it’s about battling the demons that tried to keep you from starting in the first place.
Still battling lots of demons in my quest for simplicity, and it feels like I fail more times than I win. But I think of those quiet Cookie Cutter mornings where drudgery and joy intersect, and I keep trying. I'm not sure when I decided that children's haircuts were synonymous with the meaning of life, but I promise not to wait another three months to tell you more.