I watched the kids chase fireflies tonight.

The house is a mess. We’ve had a few very full, very hectic weeks and our home reflects it. There are clean clothes piled on the chair in our room. Dirty clothes are spilling over the sides of the laundry baskets. The kitchen floor needs to be reunited with a mop in the worst way. There are the random objects strewn throughout the house: markers on the table and a couple that fell to the floor from the latest art project, half the contents of the diaper bag our little one emptied onto the chair in the kitchen, my daughter’s hairbrush in the dining room—it always seems to find itself anywhere but in her actual bathroom drawer, one yellow sock in the hallway, one striped sock in the living room, numerous shoes under the sofa, toys in the floor. I could go on.

Yes, the house is a mess, but I joined the kids outside, laughing and chasing fireflies.

It’s a beautiful night for it. I could hear them giggling from inside. I was still trying to clean the night’s dinner mess, and I knew I needed to tackle another load of laundry before bed. Crumbs crunched under my feet as I walked through the kitchen from my littlest throwing cheerios like confetti. But I left it all undone and walked outside instead.

It’s hard sometimes, balancing my practical nature with my deepening understanding that the days are fleeting. It was only a handful of days ago, or so it seems, that my husband and I crept home at a turtle’s pace driving as carefully as we possibly could with our three-day-old baby girl tucked safely in her car seat. That same baby girl will be eleven soon.

There have been lots and lots of messes made and cleaned in those almost eleven years, and to be honest, I don’t remember much about any of them (with the few extraordinary exceptions like that one time my little guy, who was about two at the time, launched a carton of blueberries from the shopping cart—that one is hard to forget).

I don’t remember much about the messes, but I do remember rolling acorns down the wooden ramp to our backyard storage building with our firstborn. I remember feeding ducks with her and her brother at the pond near our house. I remember her daddy taking her fishing—she’d sit on the tackle box munching away on goldfish, her little hot-pink sunglasses sliding down her tiny nose while she waited on her daddy to bait the hook and cast the line. Once he did all the work, she’d reel in the reward.

I remember running beside their bikes, teaching both kids to ride. I remember coloring Easter eggs each Spring and carving pumpkins each October. I remember blanket forts and hot chocolate with extra marshmallows.

And I remember chasing fireflies.

I’m not always good at getting my priorities straight, but tonight I got it right. There are so many things we can chase in this life. Let’s just be sure we’re chasing the right ones.

Originally written June 17, 2022

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