Leah O'Connell

Essays, motherhood, personal

The Joy of Wiggly Ears

I'm Leah!

I’m obsessed with stories of family, creativity, and simple joys.  A nostalgia nerd, educator, wife, and mom of 3, I believe life’s most fun when you’re dreaming big and having kitchen dance parties. 

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*this essay was originally shared in my weekly newsletter. For more essays on family, creativity, and simple joys to your inbox every Wednesday night, sign up here.*

I hear his bouncy, 3-year-old voice calling from the top of the stairs – 

 “mamaaaaa I’m awaaaake!” 

I smile and sigh at the same time and close my laptop where I’ve been working for the last 1.5 hours with my hot coffee in the darkness. 

I pad across the cold floor in my bare feet and make my way up to his room. In the warm glow of his nightlight, I kneel on the floor in preparation for our ritual good morning tackle-hugs. He pounces onto my lap and squishes my growing belly where his brother has been rolling awake, too. 

“Good morning, sweet boy” I whisper into the soft crook of his neck. 

He pulls away and declares – “Mama, look! My ears can wiggle!”

This groundbreaking revelation is exciting enough that it’s the first news he chooses to share with me to kick off the day. He uses his index finger to flick the cartilage of his earlobes with the goofy grin of a kid on Christmas. 

“Do yours do that too?! ” 

He flicks my earlobes and giggles wildly.

What is it about children that can turn the littlest thing into a miracle?

Everything is a discovery. A new pack of markers is pure treasure. A quarter from the lemonade stand becomes a goldmine. Belly buttons are like magical caves of wonder.

How does it work? When will we get there? Why does it do that?!

As a sensible grownup who’s been totally over those old-hat discoveries for some time now, it’s easy to become annoyed. It’s also easy to see how overflowing our lives are with simple joys.

Often, it requires an active choice to lean towards the latter – but I think that’s just human nature.

image of me by Erica Hufnell

The remarkable truth is I have no idea why ears wiggle.

I’m sure there’s a reason that I’ll never quite understand or be able to explain. It’s just how we’re made.

And that intentional artist who crafted our weird wiggly ears was likely smiling with tenderness at this little boy on an ordinary winter morning who discovered a simple detail in that creation and delighted in its marvelous design.

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Hi, I'm Leah.
Family photographer, writer, educator.

I’m  one of the first to meet your newborn baby, the one who won't judge your clothes baskets and unmade beds, and the one who can capture the way your husband looks at you with a twinkle in his eye after 12 years of marriage. I believe in honoring people and telling stories.

I believe art has the power to light up the world in dark places, starting at home.