Never two without three — if my daughter could speak in full sentences, I bet that is what she would say. Following that rule of thumb are many well-known fictional figures: The Three Musketeers, Three Little Pigs, Three Blind Mice, The Three Stooges. Without three sides, a triangle would no longer be. Without a third wheel, a tricycle would simply be a bicycle, which is more difficult for a child to ride.

In my daughter’s world, never two without three means she wants to be around both my husband and I — in the same room, at the same time. In any given typical day, there are multiple “pass-offs” between my husband and I as we try to get some task accomplished — be it prepare dinner, wash the laundry or work on the house. It always feels like a race to finish the assigned task at hand and then a swift pass of the baby in the hallway to commence kid duty.

There are moments when our little family of three puts a halt to the hustle and bustle so we can relax and spend quality time together. We may play hide and seek, or play pretend kitchen, or even just hang out in the den — but whatever it is, we do it as a family. During these times is when my daughter appears to be her liveliest, happiest self.

The other night, my daughter stopped what she was doing and threw one arm around my neck, the other around my husband’s neck, gave us each a kiss, and then initiated a group hug. It was a remarkably sweet and profound gesture for an 18 month old. My husband and I were amazed at her seemingly mature, yet innocent appreciation for togetherness. Her momentous action was just a few days ago, but has had a tremendous impact on our conscious time together. The past few evenings, my husband and I have both made more of an effort to spend less time on chores and more time with the three of us together. Our reward — besides a mutual feeling of closeness — is a very happy baby.

From looking at the big smile and seeing the expression on our daughter’s face, there is clearly a synergy that occurs when the three of us interact. Maybe if my husband and I put down our to-do list, we can reap the rewards of this synergy. Our daughter has taught us something very special. She has reminded us that being a family means living life with the ones you love, and when you do, you can love life.