I thought of my Dad yesterday and a conversation we had years ago.
I'd been home from college and had parked myself at the kitchen table. My sisters and I were going through old family photos. At one point, my Dad leaned over the table and picked up a picture. It was a classic family pose from an amusement park, four kids piled on top of some animal statue making crazy faces.
I can guarantee there had been bickering about who sat where on that statue. I'm certain there had been whining, probably a lot, that day. I'm sure my parents were tired in ways we didn't know about, and carrying stresses that my sisters and I were totally blind to back then.
But he didn't mention any of that. Instead he looked down at that photo and firmly said, "Those were the days. Best time of my life!"
My college aged self couldn't quite grasp his response. Maybe that's why it's stayed with me all these years.
I remember thinking everything about that photo was totally ordinary. Why on earth would he call that time the best days of his life?! What about his own childhood? He grew up when being a kid came with less structure and more free-range, and he'd put us to bed with tales of his adventuring. Or what about when he'd been a star college quarterback?! There must have been so much cheering and the thrill of hard fought victories. Or how about the starry eyed days when he'd first met my mom? The world must have felt light and happy in that carefree falling in love kind of way. Yes, surely there were other, more exciting and shinier, times in his life that were actually "the days."
I didn't get it back then. How a pile of squirrelly kids on top of an animal statue at a park, in the middle of a stressed out and thinly stretched season of life, could represent the "best time" of his life.
But I got it yesterday.
Because during the run around of a busy day, my eyes caught sight of this scene. Seven pairs of snow gear hanging up to dry. The kids had been outside then inside, and then outside and back inside. And every time there was work to get them all geared up for the snow, and work to get them all out of it after. Our kids and our neighbors' kids, the kind of friends who have become far more like family. The house was loud. It was full. There were arguments that needed help sorting out. There was laughter and playing. There were hungry bellies that needed filling. There was lots of everything - totally ordinary.
And I loved it.
I looked at all that snow gear. I thought about all the extra work that goes into this time of life. I listened to the noise filling up our house in the background. I thought of my Dad....
These are the days. The best days of my life.
These beautifully ordinary days with our children, still home being children.
Yep Dad, you were right. And - I promise to treasure "these days" as much as you did with us.