I wake up most days promising to be a better parent. To try harder to enjoy the moments that “go too fast.” To slow down to a child’s pace. And like it. To not notice the cancerous piles of laundry and sticky substances that glisten on every surface of my home. To just be.

There’s nothing harder. Most days I fail. Most days I am screaming inside my head while watching her play or tripping over her toys or fielding her requests to watch her do this thing that’s so incredible that I have to WATCH RIGHT NOW, MOMMY. Most days I want to be anywhere but frozen in time with my child. And on every one of those days I hate myself when I finally put my head on the pillow and run the reel of the day back through my mind and think of all the ways I could’ve slowed down a little, appreciated her a little, been a little less bitchy and anxious for her go to sleep. Or grow up. And I promise myself I’ll do better when I wake up tomorrow.

Summertime brings a unique opportunity to renew feelings of being a child. The warm breezes, smells of burning charcoal, and sounds of squealing children delighting in just being alive remind me of those perfect moments you can only feel when you’re a kid. Waterlogged and red-eyed from too many pool hours. Sunburned and starving after playing on the beach all day. Full on hot dogs and sugary drinks. Afternoon naps in front of box fans on full blast. A time when being suspended in life felt good.

And so yesterday I lathered up my munchkin and myself in sunscreen, threw a few towels in a bag, and headed down to the place where the ocean meets the river nearby. I decided to let go and have some fun. God damn it. And, by some small miracle, I did.

Throwing rocks, it turns out, is amazing.

And then this happened. It was so ridiculous and so cute that I forgot for just a moment how boring parenting can be. And I saw my daughter as someone with a sense of humor and a playful spirit. And I felt like a kid, too. (And also, what’s cuter than chihuahuas swimming in place? Besides, maybe, my sweet girl holding one.)

Our kids can be our greatest teachers, can’t they?

That night I went to bed feeling like the victor of a tiny but monumental battle. I had been in the moment with my daughter – and myself – if just for a moment.

P.S. This is my new favorite writer and blogger. She’s not new to the world, but she’s new to me. Bless her messed up life and her open heart and gorgeous writing. This post made me feel like I was perfect in my skin. Do yourself a favor and read it now: Don’t Carpe Diem.