By Sammi Johnson

If someone were to tell me that they wanted to give me a “ton” of goldfish five years ago, my answer would have been, “Gross. No.” Birds and fish as pets are not my jam.

But now that I have kids, when someone asks me if I want a “ton” of goldfish, I leap for joy! Yes! I should buy stock in this snack company based on my household consumption and money dropped on every variety offered (rainbow is the best).

I should have known better when one of our generous advertising executives, who I now call “bait-and-switch,” offered me goldfish. Because when she walked in with 10 swimming, very alive, goldfish, I was shocked.

Funny, right? But, it got me thinking about what words mean now compared to five years ago.

It’s different.

“Milkwithalid.” This is a common word in our house, often repeated until the request is granted. It began with our oldest, and now our youngest, has added the phrase to his lexicon. Recently, at our in-laws’ house, our son was repeating this to a confused grandma and grandpa. “He’d like milk with a lid, please,” we interpreted. Not to be confused with any old sippy cup.

“Grocery store.” I used to walk aimlessly in these, scanning ingredients, daydreaming about fantastic meals and desserts I wanted to make. I truly enjoyed the experience, because the options were endless. Now, if I stop in “quickly” without a plan and two kids, I come home an hour later and exhausted, only to realize I still don’t have one thing to make for dinner, except Goldfish.

“Netflix.” We’re a TV-free house, not necessarily for any reason in particular, it’s just that we don’t really have the space or the time. We do have Netflix via iPad and get our media fix that way. That account has dramatically taken a shift in what’s trending on our profile page. “Most recently viewed” is a combination of talking cartoon animals, cars or fairy tale creatures.  If I wanted to find anything based on drama, humor or even remotely human, I have to go to the search bar.

“Bedtime.” This word and action used to cause no stress or second thought. Now that bedtimes drag on for well over an hour, I’m starting to question all aspects of my parenting skills. Disguised bribery and endless book reading are becoming the norm. Little did I know the evening hours would produce such antics, fatigue and headache. Lights on, lights off, bathroom breaks, new pajamas, no pajamas, all the pajamas, back to no pajamas. Momma wake up and look for a particular stuffed animal we cannot seem to find. Blankets, books and one more book.

“Phew.” It is not unusual to wake up next to my son in his small daybed, lights on at 2 a.m. Oh, is that “milkwithalid” that I have fallen asleep on, or am I just strangely sweating? Brief images flash of all the possibilities, but phew, who cares. Oh, I get tired just thinking about bedtime.

“Perfect.” That word needed some attention and now has a definition in my life with wider parameters and less meaning, yet it is perhaps more meaningful. Thankfully we’ve been able to exist, even thrive, not needing to reach some unattainable level of perfection. The beauty exists in the lack thereof, and comfort lies in the love that I’m cultivating in relationships with my kids, husband, friends, coworkers and world.

“Details.” I am so much more aware of the details, like what’s that smell? Yet, I am at once oblivious to the details, like, look at this stain on my favorite sweater as I head into an important meeting. As one day ends and I fight off the urge to think about the next, I’ve learned to, “Let it Go … Let it Go!” Ironically, this phrase also has a whole new meaning, and you’re welcome for putting that Disney song in your head.

Sammi is a mother, wife, business owner and production and marketing director at the Flathead Beacon in Kalispell. Have an idea for a column, or a story to share? Email