This past Saturday, after we attended evening mass, our family headed over to our local Baskin Robbins. I had suggested frozen yogurt, trying hard to stick to my plan of eating a certain number of calories per day so that my wardrobe is no longer limited to drawstring pants, drawstring skirts, drawstring underwear… get the picture.

My husband scoffed and passed our local Golden Spoon, pulling into the parking lot of the more tasty and less healthy ice cream store. The kids were in heaven and I won’t lie, I was beginning to feel slightly giddy myself. There were flavors and more flavors and the cones just weren’t big enough for all of them, so I settled on cookie dough, and as we sat down and watched our children turn into gooey, silly, sticky messes, I was suddenly flooded with childhood memories that included big, delicious, cold ice cream cones. I always had my signature blue bubble gum flavor, no matter where we went. The fact that I picked cookie dough the other day just shows how much I have matured over the years.

Everywhere our family traveled, we always ended the trip with ice cream cones. It was our thing and we did it well. My parents picked sophisticated flavors, like cappucino or mocha swirl. I used to think it was because they were old and weird, but now, as an adult, I understand that more than likely they picked flavors that we wouldn’t want to eat, just so they could finish an entire cone without having to share it with us (I don’t blame them). I remember how colorful and yummy that bubble gum ice cream was. The gumballs were useless; you couldn’t blow a decent bubble if your life depended on it. But it didn’t matter. The mere fact that I was eating ice cream with GUM inside was magical. We scoped out the best parlors in Laguna Beach and during camping trips in the small mountain town of Idyllwild. We walked, and talked, and ate our ice cream cones; we slowed down and enjoyed being a family. Even when I turned into a raving lunatic at age 16, I would summon some eye contact and let out a small grunt when asked if I wanted to join the normal people in our family for some ice cream.

The point of all of this reminiscing? It just felt good taking my kids to get ice cream and sitting down to watch them slurp and lick and try and win the race against their colorful melting cones. And it reminded me that it takes so little in this great big life to put a smile on a child’s face. And the stickier the smile, the better. Because these little moments add up to great big memories, memories that carry us through tough times and trying times, (like potty training, and time outs and demanding four year olds) and times when you think you have reached the end of your rope. Then you take them out for ice cream and they look up at you with those gigantic blue eyes and make you feel like the luckiest person on the planet.

It’s amazing what a single scoop sugar cone can do for the soul.

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