Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Ages and Stages

My kiddos are big kids now: seven and nine, on the brink of eight and ten. We are so far removed from the stroller and diaper bag days of the young families around us.

When I was in those labor-intensive but sweet, snuggly years, I couldn't imagine life at this stage. Big kids seemed so, well, weird. Awkward. Un-charming. Big-toothed and gangly-limbed and scraggly-haired. Too loud at times and too quiet at others.

But now that we're here, I love this stage the most so far. Sure, they are silly and sometimes spazzy and occasionally a mess and strangely loyal to fads like Minecraft and Pokemon, but they are also thoughtful and enthusiastic and capable and earnest. They cook us pancakes, write us notes, appreciate beauty and kindness, think about the world, and love out of the sincerity of their own hearts.

Last night after dinner, I mentioned that I wanted to go for a walk later, and Abby said, "I would love to do that with you. Let's go!"

So as the sun set, turning the sky gorgeous shades of pink and orange, Abby, Merlot, and I made a big loop around our neighborhood, ending at the park. We filled the sidewalk, a trifecta of contentment: me jogging in the middle with Abby propelling her scooter on my right and Merlot trotting happily on my left. Abby chattered the whole way about the beautiful landscaping and how much she enjoyed the nature walk we did on our weekend getaway and which muscles felt sore from balancing so long on her scooter.

We arrived at the park and did handstands and cartwheels together in the grass.

"That was good, Mommy!" Abby said when I managed to hold my handstand a few seconds.

"Mommy, watch this! Did you see that?" she'd ask when she executed a skill particularly well.

Our "walk" was a half hour of pure joy, created and sustained by her.

I think I love this stage because our relationships are so reciprocal now. We walked back to the house, and Abby said, "This was fun, Mommy. Let's do it again tomorrow." My sentiments exactly.

Because I'm appreciating their independence and thoughtfulness at this big-kid stage more than I thought possible a handful of years ago, I'm hopeful that this joy will only increase as the kids enter the hard-to-imagine tween and teen years. Hormones and acne and driving and dating seem overwhelming at the moment, but since those milestones will belong to Ben and Abby, I'm guessing I'll relish those moments, too.

The more they grow into themselves, the more I just love and enjoy them.
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