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The other day I had a suggestion from a friend: sometimes you have to pay for the memories. Her comment was regarding a certain “magic kingdom” that costs a magic dollar amount to enter. The words echoed in my mind as I doubted myself and my purpose. “Am I not properly appreciating my children’s childhood?”

This morning, as I hugged and kissed my school-bound girls goodbye in the warmth of the window, my little toddler came bouncing into the hallway with her pale blue Frozen nightgown flowing with each tottering step. Wild wisps of hair mostly covered her sleepy stare, intent on finding me. I exclaimed my joy to see her quiet entrance and crouched to pick her up in a gentle hug, her head instantly resting on my body. I noticed how her legs hung down lower below my hips as she’s grown so much recently.

Having sent off my big girls, I thought about starting my morning routine of picking up the laundry and morning chaos, doing something about my appearance, checking my work email, and calling to check on my aging parents as I do every day. Instead, I took little “Elsa” to the couch for a quick cuddle.

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Upon my lap, she shifted until comfy, then ate warm, buttery waffles, stopping on the last three bites. I pushed back her honey hair and looked into her brown eyes and whispered to her, “You’re beautiful, and I love you!” She buried her head in me with a shy little smile. So, I said it again, and she whispered back with a breathy tone, “You boo-tiful, and love you!”

She suddenly looked concerned, “Where’s [my brother]?”

“Oh, he’s still sleeping!” I explained. I, too, was surprised by his late dreaming as he’s usually the first to start banging drawers in the morning. But with no preschool today, why not let him catch extra Zs?

“In bed? Take a nap?” she asked. I nodded. She looked upward, thinking.

“Let’s watch Anna and Elsa!” she suggested. Screen time in the morning is normally a definite no, but today I allowed it.

“Why do you like Anna and Elsa so much?” I teased.

“Betuz . . . I just like Anna and Elsa,” she said as she shrugged her tiny shoulders.

So today we’re starting a Friday morning watching a movie, singing with all the sweetness, waffle fragments, bedhead, and adorability one can handle. And I can’t help feeling that these are the moments of magic, the oddly important breaks from the routine, the snuggly reassurance of love on a chilly morning.

These minutes sharing my lap mean more today than the tasks awaiting. It’s simple appreciation for treasures that don’t cost money or require special planning. This morning, I’m just a mom appreciating ordinary joys, and my heart is full. In a moment, we’ll get dressed and going, and my little girl agrees that’s “otay,” but we have right now to cherish.

The gratitude of a regular day led me to jot down the common magic moments I experienced with each one of my four young children, for which I feel blessed.

My toddler twirling and singing, with eyes set in the corner. My little guy humming a guess-the-song game in the car, stumping me with his favorite blue hedgehog’s theme. My little three squishing up on the couch, a sea of elbows and limbs, so everyone could see the book.

RELATED: Lord, Please Don’t Let Me Forget

My kindergartener giggling shyly while telling us she’s pretty sure a boy at school likes her, “I keep telling him to move his seat back over there, thank you very much!”

My youngest giving running hugs with outstretched arms. My girls’ hair creating a halo of static from the slide (classic!). My biggest girl beaming with pride to “Take a picture!” while climbing a tree.

Wild sunflowers blooming in my hands and pockets, picked by my charming bud on a walk. The whole crew chasing a forgotten soccer ball, now treasured by gleeful, screaming children. My littles jumping through the playground, begging me to catch them as the sun broke through the clouds.

All of us pausing to treasure the golden warmth and crisp cool that share October while making wishes on dandelions: I wish Halloween was here! I wish everyone will have a great day! I wish to be in a game like Mario! Um . . . To blow on it!” Umbrella seeds puff straight into my face, and we laugh as I shake them from my hair.

Tonight, I’ll kiss the tops of their heads, wondering what they’re dreaming about. These are the magic moments.

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Cynthia Murray

Cynthia Murray is a grateful mother to four miracles. She loves dabbling in writing, reading, and music, but her heart belongs to her favorite people at home and the Great British Baking Show.

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