Ecclesiastes 3:1: “There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven.” (NIV).
For four years now, my family has had a yearly tradition. We go away to the same place every year, usually relaxing the same way. This year, we added to our routine and tried new things while keeping our favorite activities intact. For some reason, I was nostalgic this time.
When we first started this tradition, I was pregnant with our last little one. That year filled me with hope of what was to come. The next two years were spent with a little baby/toddler – he and I being more spectators than actual participants in the fun activities. This year, though, I noticed a shift. Our two, almost three-year-old was doing his best to keep up with his siblings, and seeing the pure joy on his face was priceless when he accomplished something that his older brother and sister did easily.
Although I have to admit there is a little part of me that is sad to see the baby stage leave our family, I am filled with peace. I think our littlest’s nickname, bonus baby, says it all. From the time I stopped hyperventilating after seeing the pink lines on the stick, my husband and I made a decision. If God was going to bless us with another child, then we were going to embrace not only his precious life, but all that it entailed. I have to say, I think we have done that to the fullest.
With our first and second kids, I read all the books in order to stimulant their brains at the right time with the right toys. I worried and obsessed if they didn’t take an interest in potty training, if they weren’t saying enough words by one year old, or if they weren’t walking on time. I was so busy “getting it right,” I think I missed a lot. I paid more attention to what I was supposed to do, feeling guilty if I didn’t do it right, than doing what I wanted to do.
Nine years between our first and our last made a big difference in my perspective. I was nine years older and hopefully nine years wiser. I still worried, probably more so with this one because there were lots more little pieces and parts of toys for him to eat, but I determined before he was born that I was going to raise him with no regrets. By that, I mean that I was going to enjoy each and every stage, each and every milestone, knowing that this was probably the last time I would get to experience the miracle of watching a little one grow and mature under my care.
As a result, I have put the books away. The older two are a reminder that kids will eventually achieve what they are supposed to, whether or not we worry, and our littlest is a reminder to savor each and every moment, because time goes by too quickly.
So that is how on this particular vacation, I was able to say goodbye to the baby days and look forward with peace knowing that I was fully present and fully involved, not missing a thing and living with no regrets. Our family has started planning what new adventures we can do next year as a much more mobile and active family and we’re all excited about what awaits us.