When our family first moved to Seattle in the fall of 2009, Shauna was our concierge and showed us where we could find everything from grocery stores with the best produce to the quickest route to reach the highway. She and her family had already been in Washington for two years and were gracious to show us all the ropes. We had borrowed a friend’s Garmin navigation system for the drive from Colorado to Washington, but hadn’t yet owned a smart phone with a GPS. Having never lived long-term outside my own zip code, even finding the nearest Target in Seattle proved challenging.
One local tidbit that Shauna exposed us to was this fascinating megastore called IKEA. What was even more intriguing than a gigantic warehouse of inexpensive furniture was that IKEA offered free babysitting on site for an hour so that parents could leisurely drink their $1 lattes while perusing all that their wonderful business had to offer. And after your hour of sans kids shopping there was a café right next to the childcare to get everyone snacks after their romp in Smaland. Since neither Shauna nor myself had any family living nearby, an hour of free babysitting was no simple commodity. Hence, long after Shauna and her family moved back to Colorado, Karl and I have frequented IKEA less for their offerings (although rarely can we get out of there without buying several inexpensive things that we convince ourselves we need) and more for their childcare provisions.
However, recently Smaland has changed their policy from accepting children based on age, and instead accepts them based on height thereby excluding Lucy at age 8. Since she takes after her father and has consistently been in the 95th percentile for height, children years older than her and their parents can still receive the benefit of one hour of free babysitting, while sadly we cannot. So, our trips to IKEA are very different experiences now. Once, we could leisurely stroll through the entire warehouse at an inquisitive and curious pace examining book shelves that could also be mounted on walls, and boxes that folded into planks, and yards and yards of fabric that could create virtually anything. Our most favored purchase from IKEA is our current living room couch that has a chaise lounge and turns into a hide-a-bed. It is complete with storage for extra linens and is very easy to pop up and put away (for more on the awesomeness that this couch provides, see my first Happy Hour post). Now our trips through the store are often harried coupled with kids complaining that their feet hurt and asking us repeatedly to just hurry up.
On one such recent visit, we had stopped off mid-way to use the restrooms. Lucy and Peter had had enough of Karl and I’s stubborn attempts at maintaining a leisurely pace and their attitudes had turned grumpy and sour. I asked Lucy if she needed to use the restroom, and with her hands crossed over her chest she adamantly refused. So, Karl waited with her and Peter while I went. When I was finished, Karl and Peter went to use the restroom and I grabbed the back of the cart, while Lucy was at the front resting her chin in her hands with her elbows on the handlebar.
I did as I often do in those moments which was to reflect with my words what Lucy might be feeling on the inside. Putting words to emotions is very therapeutic for children who often have neither the language nor the recognition of what feelings are going on inside of them. It takes some guesswork, but if you can just imagine what a child might be feeling and say it out loud, more often than not, you’re accurately describing their experience. Naming feelings out loud is a way to order their inside world and ultimately give them the language to do it for themselves later on. I said things like, “I bet you’re really tired of all this shopping…” or “It must not be any fun to have to look around for things that Mommy and Daddy need, but not things for you and Peter to get.” Rather indignantly Lucy said, “Yeah! I’m bored. This isn’t any fun for us.” I retorted back, “Well, we could make it fun! How about we dance? I love this song!”
I proceeded with my best entertainer face to lip sync what was playing over the speakers, something like Tainted Love. [Now, let’s be honest. I wouldn’t dare lip sync when I can actually sing, right? So, I proceeded to belt out the words “Some-tiiiimes, I-I-I feel I’ve got to (bump-bump) run away, I’ve got to (bump bump) get away from the pain you driii-iiive into the heart of me…”]. Moving my hips to the bump bumps, I really got into the song and was thoroughly having a good time. And while my daughter had moved from having her chin in her hands to standing erect with her hands on her hips not at all appreciating my efforts, I continued singing and dancing.
“Once I ran to you (doing the running man, of course), now I’ll run from you (doing the reverse running man, naturally), this tainted love you’ve give, I give you all a boy could give you, take my tears and that’s not nearly aaaaaaaalllllll!!! Tainted loooovee…”
At that point, Karl and Peter came out to witness what was my spectacle in front of the bathrooms and Lucy said, “Daaaa-aaaad! Mom’s dancing in the middle of IKEA!” While drying his wet hands on the pant legs of his jeans, without skipping so much as a moment, Karl replied, “And that’s why I married her.”
His words stopped my dramatic dance fest. I relinquished my performance not to shame or embarrassment, but rather to gratitude and awe. Karl has not historically been so verbally liberal with his admiration. I have seen his sideways smile at my antics, but rarely has he delivered his love so precisely and clearly. His appreciation for who I am, and who I have always been was handed to me spontaneously, graciously and lavishly in a short six-word sentence.
I won’t turn away grand gestures of flowers and gifts and romantic getaways. But if I had my choice, I’d choose more moments like the one where I found Karl’s love for me in IKEA.
Have you experienced a surprising and delightfully unexpected moment of love? We’d love to hear about it! Let us know where, when, how and what it meant to you in the comments below.