One afternoon recently, Anna was uncharacteristically cranky. I had a cold, Stanton was traveling for work, and Grace kept telling me she was bored.
“I am so bored, Mom.”
“Everything is boring.”
I closed my eyes.
“I wish Dad was here. Everything is fun when Dad’s here.”
“DADA! DADA! DAAADAAA!”
“OK, that’s it.” I tossed two granola bars, two sippy cups and my cell phone in the diaper bag. “Let’s go.”
Grace peered at me. “Where are you taking us?”
“For goodness’ sake, Grace…” Anna yelled as I buckled her into her car seat. “We’re just getting out of the house for a little bit.”
A few minutes later, we arrived at our local library. The library has a spacious children’s section that the girls love: a reading corner, lots of toys, an aquarium. Best of all, we usually bump into other kids and parents we know from around our community—instant play dates for the girls, and grown-ups for me to chat with.
Sure enough, that afternoon the girls built train tracks and worked on puzzles with other kiddos. I didn’t want to spread my germs, so I hung back but very much appreciated everyone’s improved moods.
At one point, Grace gave me a hug. “I’m happy we came here,” she said. Then she added, “You just have to walk out the front door, right, Mom?”
I blinked. “Grace—that’s something I say.” Whenever the girls, or I, are feeling cranky or a little down, I usually say, “Walk out the front door”—by which I mean, we’ll feel better if we get out, get some fresh air, interact with the greater world.
“Yeah,” Grace agreed, “that’s what you tell us. Walk out the front door.”
I’ve known this for a while now, that 5-year-old Grace hears everything I say. What I didn’t realize, though, is that these things have started to stick with her. And that they could make a positive difference in her life as she grows up.
“Walk out the front door” is one of my biggest philosophies. Experience life. Make the best of everything.
Here are some other things I want to tell my children. What do you want to tell yours, friends?
Girls, in case you’re still listening…
2) Say yes to new adventures.
3) And don’t be afraid to say no. Respect what’s right for you.
4) Be thankful. You have plenty.
5) Say, “Thank you,” especially to people who are serving you.
6) Ask for help when you need it. Don’t be ashamed.
7) You never have to pretend with me.
8) Reach out to the kids who are alone at the sidelines on the playground, or in the school cafeteria. Smile. Say hello.
9) If you don’t like the way something is, don’t whine. Fix it. Solve the problem.
10) Exercise daily. You don’t necessarily have to run six miles, or go to the gym for an hour. But move. Stretch. Dance.
11) Drink lots of water. Eat whole foods. Save room for dessert.
12) Don’t stare at people or situations you don’t understand. But do ask me or Dad or someone you trust to help you understand them.
13) Tell the people you love that you love them. Call them. Keep in touch. Send cards, and make time to get together. One day you may not have the chance.
14) Don’t have regrets. Mistakes, yes—although I like to call them “learning experiences.” But regrets—no.
15) You will have “learning experiences” long after you think you should be done with all the learning. 🙂 That’s OK, though.
16) You aren’t better than anyone. Maybe you’ve had better luck. Or made better decisions. But you are not better than anyone. Treat everyone respectfully.
17) Believe in the goodness of people, and in the goodness of life.
18) Believe in something bigger than yourself.
19) Do your best.
20) Any goal that means something to you will take longer to achieve than you think it will. And it will be harder than you imagine. Hang in there.
21) In general, transitions are hard. So ease into them. Take your time.
22) True love is not spring break sex, or beautiful jewelry, or big houses. It’s sacrifice and sticking together—all the things that happen after every romantic comedy and wedding reception ends. It’s taking care of each other. It’s visiting your 89-year-old grandmother with you on New Year’s Day. True love is deep, quiet moments of joy.
23) Don’t make fun of anyone.
24) People have more in common with you than they do different from you. Seek out the common ground.
25) Be cautious with credit cards.
26) Just because you can afford to buy something doesn’t mean you have to, or should.
27) If you want to sleep well at night, live well within your means.
28) When you hear your favorite song on the radio, turn it up. And sing along.
29) Turn off the TV. Put your phone down. Open your eyes to the world around you; be present.
30) Go to your doctor and dentist for regular checkups. Preventive care is less expensive, in the long run, than treating health issues.
31) Things I know about money: It comes. It goes. You need a certain amount to be comfortable. You can’t take it with you.
32) Things to splurge on: Good food. Experiences. Travel. And things not to: Stuff.
33) Some of my favorite places I’ve ever been: the Blue Ridge Parkway in Virginia; La Jolla, California; Capri, Italy. If you get the chance, visit them too.
34) The best boxed brownie mix: Ghirardelli Double Chocolate. I’ve tried them all, girls, from generic brands to top-of-the-line organics. Nothing’s as yummy as Ghirardelli Double Chocolate.
35) It’s hard to say goodbye. Try saying, “Until next time.”
36) Basically, what I know about life is…it’s beautiful. It’s humbling. It goes on.
Keep going on, even during your most difficult moments.
Because life is beautiful.
Photo credit: Pixabay
Like what you just read? Then check out Melissa Leddy’s newest short fiction e-book, “This Is Just a Story.” Fun, timely and thought-provoking.