A few months ago a promise was made, not just to myself or to Sean, we made the promise to all three girls. We committed to family time, real, honest-to-goodness family time. The three of them responded so immediately and so exuberantly that Sean and I were blessedly lifted up on to this incredible rush of anticipation. We fantasized about outings and conversations, we projected memories that would be made and changes that would happen overnight.

The thing is, change doesn’t happen over night unless you choose it. I don’t think it was that I actively did not choose it, I just failed to pursue it with the same zeal and determination that I do other things. That was wrong. I was wrong. I was beginning to understand that as things that had seemed so concrete proved to be flimsy, treacherous even. I was still working through the heartache and shame of allowing myself to be fooled when Briar came tearing through the kitchen mid-declaration.

“And when we are there it will be open for us to do the things, all the things that we see and find. And when we start to forget I will have-” she began rooting through the junk drawer in the kitchen. “It will be, umm, I think it’s here if I can find it. The bugs. And animals. Maybe even foxes, you think mama?”

I smiled at her. Lately her comeliness has been something that I do not see myself in, her face is radiant, wispy hair dancing along her brow coquettishly. When she is not regaling us with what she has learned she is singing, really, really singing. Her fascination with Disney princesses almost makes sense because honestly it wouldn’t surprise me if she skipped outside, knelt to inhale the fragrance of a blossom as she absentmindedly sang a perfect melody and birds and butterflies began to alight. She is that exquisite.

Then that merciful caprice of genetics puffed a gentle wind my way and she is fidgeting with excitement, lips pursed with focus and her intention is rooted in making a memory for all of us to enjoy again and again. She is my little mini-make-it-happen-me. My eyes well and my throat burns as she looks at me and says, “Can you help me spell journal so I can make sure my sisters and everyone knows this is our bug and animal journal?” Her little hand, nails chewed to a quick, thrust a sheaf of haphazardly folded sheets of paper at me. “We can glue them to be a book.” As the papers started to flutter from her hands I caught them.

“How about this, how about we add a couple of these to…” I scanned the room and grabbed a dog-eared Barbie notebook. “We’ll tape it to this and make it fresh, ok?”  We taped one of the papers to the notebook and then she began writing as she chattered. “So when we are having our time we can write down every single kind of bug and animal we have right here in the journal. And if Finley can’t write I can write it for her. I could even kinda show Avery how to write so she could write for Finley and not feel bad that she can’t really write yet. You know? Does animal have an a after the m?”

She worked on the cover as we talked about what we might find. I can’t say that I am eager to find bugs, but I am grateful I found my way back to my promise.

Now, if you’ll excuse me, I am off to prepare for the first of many, many nature journaling expeditions.