Our theme for the month of February is “color.”
Being goal-oriented is a blessing and a curse.
It’s a great quality to have when you’re fourteen and need the drive to pass your lifeguarding certification exam after failing the first time around. It’s fantastic when you need a cool way to trick your brain into believing doing dishes and making coffee are checklist worthy tasks. It gets tricky, though, when you become a parent and begin to realize you simply do not have the time to crush your goals when you’re spending twelve hours a day spooning puree into your baby’s mouth while she makes goofy noises.
This truth crystallizes today as I open my “2020 Goals” Google doc, where I’m attempting to capture progress on new recipes, books I’ve read, and songs I’m learning on my acoustic guitar. I take a second to characteristically beat myself up for not learning any new guitar songs yet, one month into the year. On the top of my list is Ed Sheeran’s “Tenerife Sea.”
You look so beautiful in this light
Your silhouette over me
The way it brings out the blue in your eyes
Is the Tenerife sea
The way this busy day is unfolding, it’s looking quite likely we’ll miss out on another goal, the daily task of getting our daughter at least one nap.
“She’s too tired to even crawl,” my wife Kendahl says, “but she’s not ready for sleep quite yet. Let’s try putting her down again in a half hour.”
Works for me. So we fulfill the Sunday afternoon dream and grab a glass of wine, head out to the front porch, and hang with our daughter. Earlier in the day, I was asking a friend to pray that I would have opportunities to be more emotionally and mentally present at home. There’s something about the spotless sky and sixty-degree temperature that makes me wonder if God is personally sending an answer to our house like a speedy Prime delivery.
We sit on our flimsy porch chairs and sip wine. I’m holding Chloe in my lap, shielding her eyes from the sun. I prop her up on her feet, turning her so she faces me. She puts her mouth on my ear and grunts. Her mouth is wide open, her too-long nails recklessly pressed on my face, covering my eyes. She appears to be loving the moment. She giggles, then grunts again as she attempts to eat my ear. It makes me laugh out loud. I hold her up in the air, still facing me, and can’t help but notice her eyes, just a shade darker than the perfect sky behind her, sapphire against the sky. I sit her back down on my lap and her dark denim jeans match mine perfectly. Almost as if she’s a part of me.
A few minutes later, it’s time to try again to put Chloe down. I put her in her sleep sack one arm after the other, lay her down, and quietly walk out of the room.
Sometimes this is the end of it, but not today.
Our current life stage is scientifically known as the “annoyingly adorable pulling up phase,” because she is big enough to pull herself up to a standing position when you’re trying to put her down for a nap. The second you lay her down, if she has even the slightest amount of energy, she’s rocking herself up into a sitting motion, then on to a blindingly quick process of standing all the way up in her crib.
When I come back to check on her moments later, I know what I’m going to see because I’m well accustomed to the annoyingly adorable pulling up phase, but it still strikes me as if it were the first time. There she is, standing up in her crib, sapphire eyes lit up by a wide, full-face smile, pacifier in her mouth. We’re not supposed to encourage this behavior by playing with her, so I channel my best acting skills and pretend, with convincing agility, that I don’t find it adorable. Somehow, at this moment in the middle of a mundane day, all the goals I set for myself don’t seem to matter quite so much.
Matt Cambridge (’12) is a new dad to Chloe, husband to the beautiful Kendahl, and a human resources professional at Boeing. He lives in St. Louis and enjoys eating Hershey’s kisses, riding roller coasters, and watching the latest stand-up specials on Netflix. You can read more of his work at laughcrythink.com.