There are days when success is counted by the most laundry completed and the fewest tantrums thrown. Today is one of those days. Sometimes I despise these days, drained by the monotony. But today, the joy and connection of the weekend lingers into the more mundane moments of today. And, as I reflect on the weekend, I recognize that it was filled with the true gifts of “doing what we do.”
I should probably start with Friday since it sets the mindset stage going into the weekend. This looks like a perfect outing, especially if you know me well. In many ways it was.
But it was perfect only by the grace to see the humor in the irony of the day. Perhaps, rather than ironic, the entire day was an answer to a little prayer, whispered from the most well intended part of my soul that morning. Tantrum after tantrum, raising my voice, apologizing, forgetting the lunch I packed, toddler screaming to match infant crying, refereeing a game of walk vs ride in the stroller, hungry baby and his vocal reminder, arched back toddler, set-your-clock-by-them trains stopped on the tracks…and then, I remembered my prayer. My prayer for the opportunity to practice patience. A dangerous one, I knew even when I uttered it, but one which I truly did want answered. And so, I smiled. That helped. The day was exactly as I had asked. And as is so often the case, there was a little calm within the turbulence. It was a gift to spend an unexpected few moments sipping a smiling coffee, nursing my baby, and watching my toddler play. A perfect afternoon by all appearances.
By that evening, no matter how well I had laughed it off or played a little Alanis ‘Ironic’ in my head, I was grateful for the expectation of knowing that the next three days would be spent as a team. That the patience required for the arched back and hungry screams would be shared. So grateful for my partner in this adventure called family.
Then, Saturday. Falafel. That was the plan. Pack up the family, head to Tokyo, find falafel. Quick perusal of a few reviews, and we found our place, Pita the Great in Akasaka. To make a day of it, we scouted out the area for other Japan-touring adventure spots. Hie Shrine with its iconic Tori gates. Perfect. A friend is thinking about starting a business to film foreign families touring japan. Sounds like us, right? So, he came along to shoot the day as well.
We floundered a bit as our new family stretched and bumped to get out the door. Poor communication, bad planning, new challenge. The walk to the train station was tense as we hashed out the “what went wrong” and “why are you reacting so strongly.” Then, grace swept in again. Resolution, breath, restart.
The rest was fantastic. Wearing our babies, exploring a new area of a city we have come to know, in a country we have come to love. Falafel, it turns out, was not to be had. Closed Saturdays. But the shrine, one of the best.
And close second to Falafel, we popped into a little joint called Frijoles which is as close a knock off to Chipotle as any place you could imagine. Good guacamole and tortillas, a true find.
Sunday marked two years of parenthood. Little T turned 2.
Instead of a party or even an outing, we chose to celebrate at home. Birthday pancakes, much anticipated ‘pesants’, a walk around the neighborhood, and many renditions of Happy Birthday sung throughout the day. It was a Tamar-way to celebrate and remember.
‘How old are you?’ we asked her throughout the day. ‘Too-oo’ she would reply, and hold both index fingers right up next to her smiling face, ‘I too-oo daddy.’ Heart warming moments. We capped the evening off in our home with delicious dinner and connection with new friends. A delightful Sunday.
Monday was a bonus day. A day off work to remember the passion and sacrifice of one of our nation’s heroes. We wanted to savor the day, spend it with family and friends. Yet, something about it struck a dissonant chord. Too much internal focus, not enough external perspective. So, as a part of our outing that day, we made and dropped off a meal to some friends. Such small sacrifice, really, yet it began our day with the exhilaration of giving and filled us with the sense of expectancy for yet another fabulous day. And, fabulous it was. A gorgeous, crisp winter day. A Starbucks-sipping stroll along the bay in Yokohama.
Then, a visit to a new place with friends. A place that records and recounts the history of one of Japan’s most significant contributions to the world. A place that inspires creativity and invention. A place that feeds the bellies of the world. A place called Cup Noodles Museum.
It was fantastic. We saw the evolution of instant ramen in all its splendor. We met its inventor through his story. We sampled noodles from around the world. We even created our own, customized cups of noodles.
After saying goodbye to our fellow noodle-experiencers, we strolled again. Through our favorite part of Yokohama and then a long, casual walk home. And we reflected. Ordinary outings and experiences, that might go exactly as planned or get caught up in a few hitches along the way, can be inspiring and so so satisfying.
And that is what lingers into today. The satisfaction. The satisfaction of family. The satisfaction of answered prayers. The satisfaction of resolution. The satisfaction of exploration. The satisfaction of good food. The satisfaction of celebration. The satisfaction of an active lifestyle. The satisfaction of figuring it out. The satisfaction of discovery. The satisfaction of connection. The satisfaction of giving.