I hunched my shoulders against the breeze and poked a stick into the snapping fire. Its glowing warmth chased the autumn twilight back into the trees. What was I doing out here, sitting by a campfire on a chilly night when disastrous kitchen counters and baskets of unfolded laundry waited for me inside? I should be in the house, getting my work done.
My husband threw a handful of leaves on the flames, and across the fire ring, Jen sputtered and moved out of the smoke. Beside me, Tari munched on the remains of her hot dog.
Our hot dog roast had been impromptu, suggested by the girls and seconded by their father. I had hastily assembled food and picnic supplies while they built a fire, and now here we were, having what could be our last picnic of the season. I didn’t want to pour cold water on their plans—I do enough of that already—but the summery heat of the day had given way to decidedly autumn temperatures. I wasn’t exactly sitting here having fun—or getting my work done.
Jen moved her chair for the umpteenth time, talking non-stop. Tari asked for a napkin around the last of her hot dog. I looked at their fire-lit faces and realized that maybe I wasn’t having fun, but they were. They will remember this night, this meal, above all the other meals in this week. Why? Because of a little inconvenient effort.
Memories are not made of convenience. I stared into the fire, chastened at my thought. How many memories do I miss making with my children because I judge the effort too inconvenient at the time? How many times do I say “No” when I should say “Yes, and I’m coming with you”?
My excuses were many: I am a busy mother. Tomorrow or next week would be a better time. I could love my children in ways other than doing things with them. I was a solitary creature and didn’t pursue group activities, even with those I love.
My face grew hot, but not from the fire.
My husband threw another piece of wood on the fire. “I thought you said you had things to do,” he said, brushing off his hands.
“I do, but the work can wait.” I met his eyes, knowing he would approve. “The memories are being made out here, and I want to be in them.”