1. The complete joy reflected in their tiny faces.
When I let them know that YES it’s a school night, and YES they can have one more cherry Popsicle before bed, sugar be damned, is priceless. While rules are important and provide much needed structure, relief from those rules every now and then is a soul affirming form of gloriousness that every single person who has ever allowed themselves one more of anything intimately understands (what’s up, Trader Joe’s dark chocolate peanut butter cups? I see you).
2. Life is short and lots of bad things happen.
Just read the news on a semi-daily basis and you know exactly what I’m talking about. I’m not advocating an uber-privileged downward spiral into buying every toy on your kid’s Christmas list in July out of fear of the unknown. However, accept that our time on this planet is shorter than we would all probably like to admit, and go the extra mile to enjoy one another.
When your child begs you for one more kiss while they are getting into your spouse’s car to go to school and you are running late to your very important job, stop and indulge them with one more kiss. And yes, maybe another one after that.
3. It teaches thoughtfulness.
Giving a surprise gift once in a while for no reason other than “I was thinking of you…” teaches my sons the value of being thoughtful past holding the door open, and saying please and thank you. I’m talking a new Lift the Flap book that caught my eye on my lunch break, or a pair of wind up teeth from the locally owned toy store. (Creepy? Not to a four year old.)
Is gift giving the most important way to show that you care? Nope, and you better believe that I teach them all of the other ways as well. However, flowers, a thoughtfully written note, a painted rock that they found in the yard gifted during a time of hardship or joy, can mean so much.
4. Memories have to be consciously and actively made by parents, relatives, and people who care.
Trips to the park when it’s really not convenient, going to see the red panda at the zoo in the blazing heat when its crowded because your four-year-old loves the red panda, allowing your little guys another 15 minutes outside to catch the fireflies that are now glowing outside their evening window. An extra book every other night when you know, and they know, the bedtime book limit is three. An extra sliver of cake on a birthday that is, or isn’t, theirs. An extra toss up in the air to pretend to be an astronaut when your shoulders already ache. One. More. Snuggle when you are just tired AF.
5. It feels right and just.
Sometimes I see something (a piece of chocolate wrapped up to look like a bug), or think of something (I bet the boys would love a half an hour car ride through spooky woods out to an old covered bridge), that I just know one (or both) of my sons will truly delight in, and something inside me whispers “just do it!”
Granted, I have ignored this tiny whisper when my husband and I are in rent-week mode and barely able to put that extra tank of gas in our cars. Or when I knew it wasn’t ultimately going to work out for one reason or another.
However, when I can, I do, and I have never regretted it.