On Saturday, I was determined to get every member of my family of six out of the house for a family activity that did not involve youth athletics or a lot of money. Since my oldest is 15 and my youngest is three this is not an easy feat. Usually, someone ends up disappointed or bored (sometimes I have to admit that person is me). The sounds of togetherness starts the moment my husband and I tell the kids to get their shoes on.
Three-year-old daughter: “I want to go to the playground.”
Seven-year-old daughter: “I want to go to a pumpkin patch.”
Eight-year-old son: “Why can’t I ride bikes?”
Fifteen-year-old son: “I just want to go back to sleep.”
Everyone in unison: “Where are we going?”
I thought about the local fair going on a few miles away, but I didn’t want to deal with crowds, lines or those overpriced paper tickets. The symphony of complaints grow until my husband says, “How about a nature hike and ice cream?” While no one cheers or pumps fists at the idea, the groaning and moaning stops, so I know it is a winner.
We drive to a nearby lake and start on the path through the woods to the other side. The weather is crisp and sunny – a perfect October day. The seven- and eight-year-old run ahead, while my husband and 15-year-old walk side-by-side chatting about sports. I hold and pull the three-year-old along in the rear.
No one asks when we were leaving. No one complains. We walk, giggle, laugh and occasionally race. The dropping acorns and leaves are our guide. The path opens up to a large playground and everyone darts toward the clearing.
The three-year-old grabs a swing and screams, “push me!”
The seven-year-old runs to the slides.
The eight-year-old starts climbing on the monkey bars.
The 15-year-old and my husband start tossing the football around on the blacktop (yes, we always travel with a football).
I smile and push the swing. I watch my family playing and laughing and having fun. It feels like a moment I should engrain in my mind.
On the way back to the car, the three-year-old is hoisted on my husband’s shoulders and the seven and eight-year-olds take turns getting piggy back rides from the 15-year-old. We race back over the trail with thoughts of ice cream and candy toppings on our minds. My party of six packs into the minivan and I take an extra glance at everyone’s faces. I want to freeze this moment and lock it into my heart forever.
It’s easy to remember holidays or birthdays or other special occasions, but it is regular days like this one that make up a lifetime of memories. It’s moments like these that need to be noticed and treasured.
I am grateful for this ordinary day. An ordinary day to remember.