I came home from my walk tonight to see a shocking sight: my husband was giving our 15 1/2 year old daughter her first driving lesson.

I was just totally unprepared to see Julia behind the wheel of her dad’s car. I smiled and gave her the thumbs up. Then I went inside and watched from the window. Better Doug doing this than me, as he definitely has the temperament for it. Nobody who knows me would ever pair my name with the word “calm.”

Earlier today, I was leading a discussion group at the Mom To Mom program at our church. We were talking about the things that our kids will remember once they are grown: and it’s NOT how clean the house was. It is the time spent together making memories.

And the laughter. They will always remember the laughter.

I am reminded of a story the late, great Barbara Johnson told in one of her many books.

She had four boys who kept her on her toes all the time.

One day, she came home to find that her sons had whipped up a bowl of red jello … and then promptly took great delight in picking up handfuls of the slippery substance and throwing it against the kitchen wall, marveling at all the cool patterns it made.

Can you imagine?

At that moment, Barbara knew she had a choice to make. She could bring down the hammer (which her boys were clearly expecting her to do) or she could join in the fun.

She chose to join in the fun.

Much to her sons’ total shock, she marched over to the bowl, picked up a giant handful and flung it against the wall with all her might.

Neither Barbara nor her four boys ever forgot the joy of that day. Yes, there was a mess, but messes can be cleaned up and forgotten. In contrast, memories live forever in our hearts.

Memories from my years with Julia ran through my mind as I watched her drive a car for the first time and it was sweet.

Just for today, make the decision to lighten up.

Smile more.

Laugh out loud and often.

Make time for play.

Step out of your comfort zone and into a new adventure.

Look past the mess and see the person in front of you.

Remember that you can have a clean and orderly house when the kids are grown.

Be willing to fully enter into the world of your child, even if it is only for a few moments. Be completely present. Make intentional eye contact. This moment will not come again.

If you have little ones, get down on the floor and play with them.

Be willing to get your hands dirty.

Pull up a stool beside you in the kitchen and let your child help you bake cookies or make a meal.

Dream with your child.

Listen to their prayers.

Cuddle up and read a favorite story. The housework can wait.

Place newspaper over the surface of the kitchen table, pull out some blank construction paper and allow them to paint.

Put on some music and dance.

Pull your kitchen chairs into the living room, grab a bunch of blankets, and make a fort.

Celebrate the gift of now.

Tuck the memories you make deep in your heart. It is those same memories that will bind your heart to your children for the rest of your days.

Nothing is ever really lost to us as long as we remember it. —L.M. Montgomery

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