Cherish and be present in the moment

Last week, I was a “yes mom” for a day. I used to be a laid-back in-the-moment parent, especially when I had one child. But life gets busy, hard seasons come, and I found myself wrapped up in my problems and keeping up with our schedule.

My sweet Violet, 5, woke up last Tuesday and decided she wanted to throw a party for her dad. Her little sister, Eleanor, 3, liked the idea, too and jumped on board for the planning. They wanted to make and decorate a cake for him.

Violet loves to plan parties, real and pretend, for the people she loves. She has a sweet, giving heart and loves to gift her drawings and paintings to friends and family. The girls talked about the party and, of course, mostly the cake all morning.

When I dropped them off at school, I forgot about their plan as I focused on what I needed to accomplish that day.

Later that afternoon, I pulled up in the drive at their school while the song “Good Old Days” by Macklemore was playing. I looked up to see the girls radiating joy after their afternoon at school. As soon as they stepped out on the porch, the line “you’ll miss the magic of these good old days” played. The realization that the preschool chapter of our lives would be over before too long hit me so hard that, in that moment, I could see that these will become the “good old days.”

I’m not usually the mom who gets weepy over moving on to a new stage. I’ve always enjoyed watching my children grow and learn and look forward to what adventures the next chapter will bring. But at that moment, I felt like maybe I hadn’t been present enough over the last year. I was asking myself if I had appreciated them enough in the stage they are in right now.

Regret had me reaching out to grasp tightly to the last bit of this chapter. Next year, Violet will go to school all day, Eleanor will be in her last year of preschool, and my son, Dawson, 9, will be in fourth grade. There is a freedom with the preschool years that is not present once they get into elementary school. In preschool they’re gone for a couple of hours a day, but then they come home still fully mine.

Since my son has started elementary school, he has a whole life outside of home which, of course, I want him to develop. But sometimes I miss the “good old days” of his preschool years when we were never on time for school, which is OK in preschool, and could skip whenever we wanted a day off for an adventure.

I looked at their happy faces and decided to be a “yes mom” for the rest of the day. I was in the moment with them that afternoon. It was magic. We went to the store and picked up an angel food cake, berries, whipped cream and birthday candles.

Then we went to pick Dawson up from school. He asked to stay and play on the playground; I was tempted to say no. It was cold, misting and getting dark. But the yes mom said, “Yes we can.”

We didn’t stay long, but the kids got to run around and play. They came home in a peaceful mood, which is something that has been hard to come by lately. We put the cake on a fancy cake stand, and the kids worked together to spread on the whipped cream and decorate it with berries. Then they put silver and gold candles in the cake.

The kids loved surprising their dad with a happy Tuesday cake. And singing “happy Tuesday to daddy” to the tune of “Happy Birthday.”

It was a magical and peaceful evening.

Time does go so fast. I can’t hold on to it, or stop it, nor would I want to. I look forward to all of the chapters with my people, but for now, I want to cherish and be present as much as I can in the moment. I can’t feasibly be the “yes mom” every day, but some days I can and will.

Recently, Holland, 3, treated his family to a prayer of his creation.

“Thank you, Jesus, for this food,” he said. “And I promise I won’t be peekin’, no sneekin’, no bothering mommy while she’s poopin’. Amen!”

His mom, Candace Mangold of Port Townsend, said she never knows what will be said in her house.

“I just hold my breath when guests come,” she said.

Cash, 9, came home to tell his mom, Hillary McCann of Philo, Illinois, about a problem he solved on his own.

“Mom,” he said. “I rode through some dog poop on my bike. Don’t worry, I washed the tires off.”

“How,” she asked.

“Not with my hands,” he said. “I rode through lots of puddles.”

He was pretty proud of himself. He turned to walk away, and Hillary saw a line of mud — or maybe poop mud — all up his back.

“Hit the shower now,” she said.

Erin Raatz of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is the mother of Levi, 4, and Henry, 1.

One Sunday during church, between verses of a song, Levi asked, “Mommy, how much do you weigh.”

Henry was playing in the dog’s water bowl with plastic fish.

“Mommy,” Levi shouted. “Henry’s trying to fish in Allie’s bowl.”

Erin thought Levi was telling on his little brother until he ran to get a fishing pole.

“Here, Henry, you need a fishing pole,” he said.

I would love to hear your funny kid stories, so please send them my way. Parents, teachers, grandparents, aunts, uncles, and people who love children, please send your stories and cute kid photos to I look forward to hearing from you.

— Quinn Ward is a former journalist living in Poulsbo. She has been recording the amazing and outrageous things her kids say since they have been able to talk.