long – adjective \ˈlȯŋ\

: extending a great distance from one end to the other end : not short
: extending a specified distance : having a specified length
: lasting or continuing for a great amount of time

Yesterday was my youngest step-son’s birthday. He turned 11.

Of course, I wasn’t there the day he was born. I didn’t change a single diaper, or wave at him on the bus as he went off to kindergarten. I don’t have the first tooth he lost wrapped in gauze in my jewelry box, and I haven’t been around for all of the incremental changes that come as you watch a child grow. I also haven’t had time to get used to the increasing dare-devilishness that he and his brothers often attempt. I hold my breath a lot.

But I have known all three of the boys for about two years, and they are different today than they were when I met them. That’s what I told the birthday boy yesterday morning.

When he got up, I asked him if he felt any different now that he is 11. Not really, he responded. I expected as much. (Is it a sign that I am getting old that I even asked that question?)

“You don’t really change much from day to day,” I told him. “But do you feel differently than you did last year at this time?” He nodded. I nodded, too.

Change is most obvious when we take the long view.


Today, as I was thinking about my word of the week, I glanced back over words I have chosen for the past several weeks. Each week can feel so overwhelming, so directionless, so different from the next. But taking the long view, I’m seeing themes emerging from these words that seem to choose me: anticipation, connected, preapproved, plans, earth, wind, stretching, wait.

What has seemed disruptive and tumultuous for several months has actually been the birthing of a new phase of my writing life that I could barely dream of until recently. And today was the beginning I had been waiting for. It wasn’t perfect. I slept 15 minutes later than I should. Our middle son was home sick for the morning, and I had to stop to make homemade chicken noodle soup before sending him off to school at noon. I didn’t get everything done on my list, but I have a list! Tomorrow, I will tackle some more of it.

And next year, I will look back at today and realize how very far I’ve come, even if it doesn’t feel like it on each of the next 365 days.



Photo by Bert Kaufmann, via Flickr, used with permission under the Creative Commons License; design by Charity Singleton Craig. Definitions of my word of the week are from Merriam-Webster Dictionary Online.