when my children surprise me instead…


We set out to pull off our greatest parent coup ever.

Two weeks of clandestine conversations,
and secret phone calls…
of late night web surfing
and communicating in code.

Two weeks of planning every detail,
including working out their work schedule
with the sweetest manager ever,
and giving Emma a key to take care of the four-legged child.

There were a few hiccups along the way…
a case of chicken pox,
another work schedule,
some bad attitudes all the way around…
but, in the end,

and these…



A day of roller coasters and water rides
with their very best friends.

A day of smiles and laughter
and “did you see…”.

A day of big girls taking almost big girls
on almost every ride at the waterpark.

A day of sisters catching up
with a seven year old between them.

A day of dads and sons bonding
and laughing
and moving on to the next coaster.

All of this
is what my man asked for
when I said,
“What do you want for your birthday and Father’s Day
this year?”

“I want to surprise my kids
with a day at a park.”




As the sun set,
I sat on a bench
surrounded by wet towels,
and watched my sister and niece
ride the carousel one last time
while we waited for the others.

Smiling, I knew we had pulled off
our greatest parent coup ever.


I didn’t know the greatest surprise
was yet to come.

In a season of life
that is sometimes crazy,
sometimes fun,
sometimes more difficult than I ever imagined,
I often wonder if we are doing anything right.

There are not many accolades
in this journey of parenting.

We harp love and gratitude often,
which probably sounds more like Charlie Brown’s teacher
than it does either love or gratitude.
Yet, we love these three Es more than life itself.

It’s a parody I cannot explain
even on the best days.
And, on the worst days?
I simply wonder if I will survive.

And then, on the way home last night,
in a dark truck lit only by other’s lights,
a seventeen-year-old said,
“Thanks Mom and Dad!
This day couldn’t have been more perfect!”

Did we pull this great coup off for the rare,
heart-felt thank you?


Was it the best surprise of the day?

You bet!

*** the picture of the kids in front of the carousel?
Respectfully taken from my sister’s instagram

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