Drag your family to San Francisco’s MOMA for one of your infamous Forced Family Fun Days.
Endure eye rolls from your daughter who is running on two hours of sleep thanks to a slumber party the night before.
Give your son the stink eye as he wanders from gallery to gallery stating loudly, “THAT is not art.”
Gasp as your son mistakes a ledge with a sculpture on it for a bench, and almost sits on the art.
Apologize profusely to the museum security guard.
Snap a photo of your daughter, long legs, waterfall of hair, and realize she is the most radiant piece of art in the room. Feel a lump in your throat as you see her, perhaps for the first time, as the young woman she is becoming instead of the child she once was.
Watch your son masterfully create a photo at the art kiosk and know that, despite complaining, he is enjoying your adventure. Smile as he hands you a printout of his creation for safe keeping. Feel grateful he still trusts you with his treasures.
Convince your kids that the giant rust-colored sculpture on the ground floor is entitled “Cinnamon Roll.” Wander through the spiral labyrinth laughing, losing your family along the way. Remain confident that if you keep going, you all will find a way back to each other. Cross your fingers and hope that’s true forever.
Walk outside and spot the tapas bar that was your old hangout when you lived in the city. Realize that you and your husband started meeting there after work almost 20 years ago. Tell the kids that you’ve changed your lunch plans and lead the way into the restaurant.
Feel a pang of nostalgia when the sangria and patatas bravas are just as good as you remember. Watch your kids adventurously taste everything you order. Feel pride that they like to cook and eat and try new things as much as you do.
Think back 20 years to your old job and your old colleagues who’d gather at the restaurant’s long bar after a long day. Remember the good times you had drinking pitchers of beer while playing darts. Question the wisdom of combining beer and darts.
Remember how much you complained about your job back in the day. Realize that you were lucky to be doing interesting work with great people. Understand that petty annoyances are quickly forgotten while memories of the good times endure.
Acknowledge the same thing is true for parenting.
Forgive the eye rolls, the endless bickering, the declaration that, “I’d rather be shopping.”
Recall how 20 years have passed in the blink of an eye – a blur of exciting days and wasted days and heartbreaking days and joyful days. Fear that the next 20 years will slip away even more quickly. Vow to pay attention, focus on the good, appreciate moments of happiness, write it all down. Smile at the three people you love the most in the world and start planning your next Forced Family Fun Day.