Letting time stop

Apr 26, 2008 at 8:44 p.m. ET

A couple of days ago was the first persistently balmy day of the spring. It was a beautiful sunny and warm day, and it stayed that way into the evening.

The sky was blue and the birds were chirping. The peonies were pushing up out of the cool but warming earth almost before our eyes, as were the plum and pear trees blooming. The kids played outside all afternoon, relishing the sunshine. Pickle, Frisbee, tag, all the yard games.

As I made dinner, the back door was open and I could hear the happy chatter and laughing in the yard. The dog flopped on the kitchen floor and stretched out, hoping for a nap or a scratch or both. She received both. If dogs could purr, this dog would have purred.

I decided it was warm enough to eat on the porch for the first time this year. When dinner was close to ready, I called the kids in for the boys to set the table. Although they admitted to being hungry, they were reluctant to stop playing. Before the first plate was on the porch table, Woody was asking if they could go out again after dinner.

What makes a memory?

Dinner was fun. The boys were, well, jovial. Their banter was good-natured. Sunshine ate well and giggled right along with the boys. At some point when Alfs made a pun about something salad-related, I realized we were in one of those moments that each of us would always remember.

When I think back to my own childhood, the idyllic moments I remember were not attached to event days, but ordinary days made extraordinary in their simplicity. A summer day that lasted so long, I couldn't remember what I did that morning, or a fall day playing games and goofing off with friends, feeling completely comfortable and accepted. It was moments like the moment I was having with my family in which time seemed to stop. I want my kids to have those moments, too, and I have to make room for them to happen.

Dinner was over too soon, and the boys reiterated their request to go out and play some more. Sunshine followed. Rather than rushing the dishes into the kitchen to clean up, my husband added a little more to our wine glasses and we just sat there, basking in the moment and letting time stop, for all of us. We held hands and listened and watched and smiled and sipped in the warm spring evening.

Sadly, time does have to restart

Finally, finally, it was time to call the kids in, get them bathed and to bed. While none of us wanted to let go of the day, and there was a tussle or two on the way back to reality (they begged to play flashlight tag, but it was just too late), they did seem to drift off to sleep with smiles on their faces. I probably did, too.

I have a tendency to rush through moments like that evening's, to give in to the dishes or the baths or whatever else. A mother's day is so full and with such a long "to-do" list that it's easy to hurry the moments we should savor. Just to sit and take it all in was a breakthrough for me.

I'll remember.

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