The chicks are growing. They're getting bigger feet, more feathers, less fuzz - less cute, really. And they stink so badly we've moved them out to the garage. The brooder light seems to keep them plenty warm and we covered their box with a towel to trap the heat; two nights of garage dwelling so far and they're just fine.
Who would you guess is most tender for those little chicks? You'd think Henry. Maybe Lily? But you'd be wrong - it's unquestionably Nate. Under that rugged, confident exterior there's a cream puff heart, soft for many things and especially soft for baby things. Softest for his baby.
He painted her toenails last night. It was one of the sweetest things I've seen in my life. Lily sat quiet and mostly still on the bed, tickled about the pretty of the polish. Curiosity lifted her brows and her little eyes strained to see what was happening at the end of her leggings, over the rise of her dad's knuckles. She delighted in the pampering, but kept a cautious composure. Nate softly reminded her that it was going to be so pretty and asked her to hold still. When he was all done, she took a careful look and then erupted, "it's pretty, tooooo!" And when she says "toooo" her lips curl up into a perfect little pucker.
As I watched that darling scene unfold last night I loved her dad hard and deep. He used to paint my toenails when we were dating. And while I was pregnant, too. And he'd do it tonight if I asked him to, but lately I fancy unpainted toes.
Saturday night he walked into my parents' house after the priesthood session of conference - bantering about ping pong with the boys he'd transported, handsome in his crisp shirt and slacks, bending down to swoop up his baby girl who was over the moon to see him (as she always is). Our eyes met across the confusion and he winked at me. My breath fluttered in my chest and my cheeks burned. What do you call that after 7 years of marriage? Infatuation? Twitterpation? Super lucky?
A few nights ago we were assessing our finances. We're not doing much discretionary spending these days. I made casual mention of an Easter dress I'd seen, how it would be cute for Lily and he kindly suggested, "why don't you go and get it." I had to kiss him about it. And I felt like we'd grown, like we'd come a million miles from the magnificent fight we had one night in our early marriage at the top of the Joseph Smith Building in downtown Salt Lake that was mostly about money and control and wanting to feel special enough to be indulged a little.
At the end of long days we hit our pillows with gusto. Sometimes he wonders if he has what it takes to do what we're doing. I assure him that he does. I wonder if he would maybe take me camping at the coast when tax season's over. I want to go so badly I can smell the salt water. He gathers me up in his arms and assures me that he will. He will.
Gentleness. Attraction. Loyalty. Kindness. Trust.
Some things stay steady and still, even in the spinning. And you hold on to them tightly.
I love you, Nate.