21: This Is the Life!

21: This Is the Life!

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Count Your Blessings

This Is the Life!

Life holds so many simple blessings, each day bringing its own individual wonder.
~John McLeod

I buckled in Cody, wedged a Slushee between his legs, and powered up the truck. Cody laced his fingers behind his head, heaved a big sigh, and said, “This is the life!” A profound statement for such small pleasures. Time alone with Mom, combined with a Slushee, were apparently the recipe of happiness to my six-year-old.

I recalled the times when I experienced such moments, these wellings-up, a rush of love to the heart.

On our way home from a camping trip one time, my husband suddenly pulled the truck onto the shoulder and with the engine idling, slid out, skipped to my side, and opened my door with great ceremony.

“What’s going on?” I asked.

“I need to show you something.”

He pulled me to the front of the cab, wrapped his arms around my middle from behind, and there on the side of the highway proceeded to do a show-and-tell of all the constellations in the cloudless midnight sky.

Wellings-up happen when we least expected them.

Cody came up to us one day and said, “I have a great idea! Let’s send balloons to God!”

And so we inflated four balloons—one from each child—wrote “I ♥ you, God!” on each one, then watched them drift away. That is, until our neighbor’s tree snagged them. I think God got the message anyway. I envisioned Him having a welling-up of His own.

En route to Open House at their school one evening, our second eldest, Ethan, was giddy with anticipation of this particular outing. After we parked, we were spilling out of the car when Ethan proclaimed, “I love Cody! I love Matthew! I love Madison! I love Daddy!”

He looked up at me and added, “I even love you, too!”

For one Halloween, we invited ghouls and goblins to roast hot dogs and marshmallows over an open fire under the watchful eye of a full harvest moon. While gazing into the hypnotic fire, one of the parents sighed and said, “Now this is the life!”

I glanced across the street to our home, a fixer-upper that dared us to finish it. We’d been without a kitchen for eight years, the balcony on the upper story was in the midst of being converted into a third bedroom to accommodate our growing family, and the bottom story was a construction zone. The kids bathed in an antique German child’s tub, which also doubled as a kitchen sink. We liked to joke that our grandkids would be completing our perennial fixer-upper for us at the rate it was going. We often dreamed, too, of Ty Pennington and the Extreme Makeover crew coming to our rescue.

In spite of it all, our kids seemed blind to their home’s shortcomings. On more than one occasion, they’ve shouted, “I love this house!”

Many people have questioned our sanity over the years, wondering why the progress on our house continues at a snail’s pace. One overriding factor—raising kids—usurped the majority of our money, time, and attention.

And one might say we were too wrapped up in producing welling-up moments like this. I squeezed my husband’s hand, watching our kids in Halloween costumes spearing marshmallows with antique extendable forks.

Then I concurred quietly with the parent’s observation, “Yep, this is the life.”

Think about it. Think about the things that give you a welling-up and make you want to declare out loud, “This is the life!”

Then say it!

~Jennifer Oliver

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