I told Atticus that we were going to take his shoes off at the door. “NO! No shoes off!” he wailed. Because no shoes means no more outside. Because he has a fever and he wants what he wants.

Deep breath. “You wanted to come inside, remember? Your shoes are dirty! They have mud on them. We have to leave them at the door. Remember how Mama mopped the floor this morning? We don’t want to get the floor dirty.”

He grunted his assent, and I slipped off his shoes and kissed his head. “Thank you, sweet boy.”

Later, I found his shoes in the laundry room. Because that’s where dirty things go, right, Mama? I was paying attention.

How can this be the same kid who looks at us and says, “No-no road!” and then heads straight for it? I have spilled more than one cup of coffee as I had to make a mad dash to stop him. I can’t even use a cup without a lid in my own yard.

It was my idea to start lighting candles for dinner. I wanted it to be a Friday night ritual, that we would welcome the weekend with candles as we eat our pizza. A small thing to indicate the end of the week. Then I started lighting them on days when I was wrung out, just to make a small sacred space at our table. Now Atticus asks for them every night as we sit down. Candle. Other candle. It pulls me away from reading a magazine or checking my phone. Most of the time.

On Friday, after a long week, I was lying on the couch when Mike arrived with the pizza. I begged him just to bring it to me and let me stay where I was. “No,” he said, “you need to come in here and light the candles.” I was so mad at him for being right.

Mindfulness comes in fits and starts, I suppose, just like everything else. But we are practicing.

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