Few things in life compare to being really known by someone. This morning, my husband texted me a link to a song and hoped it would make the cut for my “upbeat” playlist. Understand, we like pretty different styles of music generally, so his efforts to win me over to new music often fall on deaf ears. Not today! I started listening and instantly knew it was up my alley. Something as silly as a song made me feel seen by my husband, and he felt proud knowing he had finally cracked the code of what makes my playlist (after quite a few close calls). Bonus points because it’s by Fitz and The Tantrums (story of my life right now with a newborn and a preschooler).

Fast forward to dinner after I’ve been listening to this song on repeat all day. I propose an impromptu family dance party. Knowing our daughter well, we know she has VERY strong music preferences. Like listen to the same song 25 times on repeat wherever we go kind of preferences (she’s a borderline dictator, but I pick my battles). So when I start the song and she asks if it’s the “King Triton” song, I quickly nod. I don’t know what the King Triton song is, but I know she’s going through a serious mermaid/Disney princess stage, and mama can’t have a dance party to any of that nonsense. So yes, honey, that does sound like King Triton singing with his friends – let’s dance!

We played the song on repeat a few times and let loose being silly, air bench pressing our daughter, and spinning until we were dizzy while our 6-week-old looked on with quiet curiosity. I even saw him head bobbing and fist pumping (there were no witnesses, so you’ll just have to trust me on this one).

All that’s to say, it felt good being “us” today. Life with a newborn and adjusting as a family of four has been hectic, but for a few minutes, we weren’t cleaning bottles or changing diapers or managing tantrums. There was room for all of us to just “be” and it was pure joy…hearing my daughter shrieking and twirling with my husband while I did some bizarre slow motion dance moves for the baby to watch.

When we had a gender reveal months back for our son, we shared the name we had picked for him, and I went on to explain the significance of it to a group of close friends and family. In a nutshell, we were coming off a season we called “crazy town,” where we were treading water and gasping for air. I was juggling a doc program, Verge, university teaching, and being a stay-at-home parent to baby #1, and then we started ANOTHER business together. It was a relentless season, and we brought a lot of it on ourselves. After I defended my dissertation in September, we made another crazy push to relocate (buying and selling simultaneously, OMG, if I could turn back time and shake my earnest, overextending self, I would) while we tried for baby #2, moved into our new home, worked through months of morning sickness, weeks of bedrest, and ER visits for all of us along the way. It’s been a few years of flux and transitions and serious stress, and we’re finally coming up for air and settling into a calmer, more settled pace as a family.

When we named our son, we chose Isaac, meaning “he will laugh.” Silliness is what attracted me to my husband and what has helped sustain us in hard seasons. It’s a legacy we want for our kids. I want to be more than the washer of laundry and maker of lunches and juggler of all the things. That stuff is important, but being really efficient and organized and persistent are just pieces of me. I also want them to see me laughing, feeling joyful and forgetting my to-do list for a minute, and I can thank my husband for providing an opening for that today. We (I) can take everything so seriously and get so bogged down that opportunities like that could easily slip by. Today, we grabbed one.

When we feel truly seen and known, it opens us up to be more vulnerable and spontaneous. We come alive. For a few minutes, I embraced that, and we’ve probably solidified a new post-dinner ritual as a result. The traditions and rituals you build together come to define your family. Dr. Gottman calls this creating shared meaning…things that are uniquely yours, and PREP stresses protecting leisure time from stressors and conflicts and safeguarding fun.

Tonight, King Triton delivered on both.