It’s easy to miss the baby days. Particularly in this modern age of Instagram putting preciously sweet newborn pics right in my face and at my fingertips all the hours of the day. Oh my… the cuteness.
“Awwww….” I want to coo. My fingers itch to caress those chubby cheeks and my arms ache for that sweet, sleeping weight.
Somehow I manage to overlook the Facebook and Twitter status updates about no sleep, nursing struggles, and postpartum misery.
And, oh, those delightful little toddlers! They’re so chubby and curious and they learn a million things a day, I swear– I LOVE THEM! And, so, it’s easy to miss those days. There are no clumsy feet toddling behind me now. No deeply dimpled hands to kiss silly.
Somehow I manage to overlook the updates about toddler art on walls and potty-training woes.
Anyway, the point is that it is very, very easy for me to get weepy and nostalgic and leak tears over the lack of tiny people around here these days.
I love babies.
I love toddlers.
But you know what else I’m discovering I really, really love?
Four to eight year olds.
When Halloween came by, we strolled through our friendly neighborhood with our little troop and I murmured to my husband, “We’ve hit the sweet spot. They’re still young enough to get so excited about it. They’re still little enough to be adorable, so people enjoy seeing them at their doors. They’re old enough to walk on their own and not crumble in an exhausted, tantrum-y meltdown. We don’t have to carry them. They can go up and ring the door on their own, while we hover on the walkway. Seriously– this is sweet.”
And it was. I was completely and totally right– there has, thus-far, been no better age than this when it comes to Halloween.
And now, on the heels of Christmas, I again whispered, “We’re in that perfect sweet spot. They still believe in the magic. They really GET the Christmas Story. They look forward to Santa and Christmas Mass with equal measure. They are thoughtful in their gift choices for others. They are giddy with excitement. They can manage to stay up a little late without falling apart. They’re old enough to patiently wait turns and open everything independently. This is awesome. It is wonderful.”
And it was. I, again, only spoke the truth. This holiday with 4 – 8 year olds has been spectacular. I absolutely adored it. New Year’s Eve was another pure delight.
Teaching church school to second graders? Fabulous. They’re both wonderfully innocent and wildly competent.
Volunteering in the third grade classroom? Amazing. They make lucid conversation and follow complicated directions, all while still actually caring what you think.
It’s so very easy to look back longingly at what we no longer have. It’s so tempting to wallow in self-pity that “those days are gone…”
But, while I will always adore babies and toddlers, and I will always look back fondly at those days, I really wouldn’t want to trade right where I’m at, either.
I’m in the Sweet Spot.
And I’m loving it.
(And I’m also learning that there are lots and lots of sweet spots in this thing we call parenthood.)