I’ve realized something, nothing earth shattering, but it is life-altering. I want to be happy. When I’m walking down the street and contemplating whether to balance on the curb or behave, when I am deciding between taking it seriously or shaking it off, I want the world to see me as happy. I want to feel happy.

My resting face…I want a smile, not a grimace.

I do not want to be like the woman who passed us on the street. She had on a purple dress with a a yellow moon pattern and what I would describe as car wash flaps along the skirt. It was, to the adult eye, an odd look. Finley caught sight of her from 20 yards and gasped, “Ooh, mama, dat girl is so pretty.” I smiled and said, “You can tell her that if you want.” She galloped to get closer, stopping just short of the woman’s path and as the woman reached us she looked up and said, “You are so pretty in your purple dress.” The woman didn’t so much as glance Finley’s way, never broke stride or even acknowledged us. And she doesn’t have to, but it strikes me that we miss out on so much when we close ourselves off to the unexpected.

Last weekend we took the girls for a hike and a swim. There was not a single thing that they denied themselves, from scrapes incurred walking through brambles, to whisper-soft skin kisses from flitting Monarch butterflies. They allowed the experience to wash over them again and again. I scampered over rocks, crafted forts from branches and blankets and ultimately ended the day with a kind of to-my-core-satisfaction that left me smiling. Dog-tired, but smiling.

This was how Ave looked when we snapped a picture when she wasn’t looking.

It’s what I am going to aspire to accomplish for myself and, with any luck, for some little girl who one day may want me to slow down and listen to what she has to say.