“… They are the children God has graciously given your servant.” Genesis 33:5 (NIV)
When we first started growing our family, I wanted to freeze time because I had waited so long to be a mother. I loved being married. I loved babies. I thought, “Life doesn’t get much better than this.” My friends and sister (who was about seven years ahead of me in parenting) kept encouraging me, “You’ll love every stage. There is something terrific about each age.”
I never doubted that my love for my children would ever change, but I did wonder if I would enjoy the older stages as much as the infant stages, since I’m just naturally drawn to babies and little ones.
We started a tradition approximately seven years ago, when I was pregnant with our youngest. We went away at the same time every year and would spend a long weekend together as a family. We would spend one night at the Great Wolf Lodge (they have great off season rates) and then the other night at a regular hotel. Throughout the years we have our “favorites” – things we do each time but every year we add or subtract other activities depending upon the weather, our energy level, etc.
This year we recently got back from our trip. We ended up spending an extra day up there and it was worth it. Our kids are 15, 13 and 6. I remember writing a post a few years back, Living with No Regrets, lamenting that I was saying goodbye to the “baby” stage forever and how much I would miss that.
This year our trip looked different… and while I thoroughly enjoyed everything about the infant/toddler/preschool/Kindergarten stage, there are some real advantages to growing up. This is the first year I didn’t have to worry about someone drowning. Our youngest took swimming lessons last year and has more confidence in the water. He is also taller and can reach the activities better, not to mention that any fear of water he might have had before is long gone. What’s left is just pure delight! To watch him just have fun and ask me to race him on the slides and run for the bucket is priceless! Instead of having to carry a little one up the ginormous sand dune, he was running ahead and barely winded.
Our kids are at the stage where they can all participate in all activities now. We don’t have to separate or split up anymore – mom with the “baby” while dad takes the older two. We get to do all activities together if we want, or we can split up because we want to, not because we have to.
I’m looking forward to this summer too. Our youngest is still mainly home for the summer as he is still young enough to enjoy the simple things. Our oldest has many activities already scheduled – his activities reflecting that he’s almost 16. Our middle child who just turned 13 has come up with some pretty spectacular ways to keep herself busy and make a difference in the lives of others this summer. I’m proud of who they are all becoming. And I’m looking forward to what the next years have to offer. I now know that yes, they do keep getting older, but it really does stay amazing!
© Cheri Swalwell 2016