As the girls move beyond the toddler years and finding something to do that all three can agree to becomes more challenging, I find that I say, “It’ll make a great memory,” less and less. It isn’t that I don’t want that to be the case, it’s more that by setting that expectation I put too much pressure on us all. We lose our ability to give ourselves to the moments and instead work artificially to make a memory. It fails.

Friday I didn’t have childcare set up and I’d been feeling the need to focus on the girls, so staying out of the office and away from my computer seemed like what I needed to do. I’d sent out a flurry of emails first thing and closed my laptop without guilt. I made a plan without thinking of the logistics or consequences. We did haphazardly packed a bag of snacks, dressed for rain (though the vest I’d set aside for myself did not make it into the car) and piled into my jeep.

The drive to the Adirondack Museum is about 90 minutes. I’m not sure if it was the surprise of the trip, the awareness that I had chosen them over work or maybe the mellow vibe from the soft rain, but the drive was without hiccup. No squabbling, no whining, no “I forgot to pee” declarations. We sang and excitedly exclaimed about the rivers and creeks we crossed. When we arrived to the museum the parking lot was filled beyond my wildest expectations, meaning we had to park at the fourth parking lot option.

We climbed the hill, getting further and further from the entrance, and I thought how foolish I’d been to forget my vest. As we scrambled out of the jeep the girls offered me one of their umbrellas. These umbrellas are sized for Smurfs and are lavender and pink with ruffled edges, in other words, decidedly too small and magnificently inappropriate for the surroundings. I gamely held the purple one up and the girls squealed, “You’re all set, mama!”

The rest was a blur of perfection I could never have planned for and certainly had not expected.

A perfect memory.