Children have a way of pushing through all the muck that we wade in every day and making our priorities crystal clear.
Every night, I lie in bed with each of my daughters individually and talk to them about their day. It's a time-consuming and sometimes tedious process that often prevents me from getting to things like dinner and housework until late in the evening. But as a working mother, it is the only time of day that I get to truly focus on my children for any extended period of time, and for that reason, it is a habit I refuse to break.
One of our mantras every night is: "What was the best part of your day?" I think I got this from some Sally Fields' movie in the 1970s, but surprisingly, it works.
I have been regaled with stories from tales of jumping into the "cheese pit" (don't ask, think big hole, lots of dirty foam) at gymnastics from my younger daughter to details about what my 8-year-old has learned about presidential politics and why she thinks having a woman president is very important.
I, then in turn, try to regale them with stories about something cool that happened to me that day – like getting a compliment from a stranger or meeting someone who made me smile in the midst of the chaos that is my daily life. But in all honesty, I struggle to defend my choices of tales to tell, because none of them contain the wonder that theirs do.
The other night, my four-year-old had a one-word answer that both delighted and touched me.
I asked the standard question in a sing-song voice: "What was the best part of your day, Sweetie?"
She replied simply: "You."
Then, in turn, when she asked me what the best part of my day was, I answered the same in return: "You."
This time I had no regret in my answer because it was the truth. And from this day forward, my answer will always be the same.