Being at the cabin this week is bringing back many memories of my kids as babies. Jason's parents bought the cabin when Ava was 9 months old, so she has grown up with this magic place as part of her earliest memories. When they were babies, we had to travel with so much of their stuff, and find ways to amuse them, and collapse in gratitude when they napped or were in bed for the night.
Now they are 7 and 4, and capable of coming and going in and out on their own. They can cook their own marshmallows and hot dogs over the fire, read books alongside of the adults, play card games with us, and run wild outside on the dock without us worrying about their safety. It's so fun, but it was a long road to get here.
Now I watch my sibling-in-laws have their turn raising babies at this cabin. I remember being affronted by my sister's attitude when she had older kids and I had babies. She would say, "I'm glad it's your turn now. I did it, and I enjoyed it, but I'm glad to have the diapers and the work of babies behind me." At the time I couldn't imagine feeling like that, because I loved the stages they were at as babies and little kids, but they are definitely a lot of work when they are under three, and suddenly there is breathing space all around for Jason and I as parents.
It's fun to watch the grandparents with the older kids too. Every stage of childhood offers different delights, and since we can't go backwards, it's best to enjoy them as much as possible at every stage, because it all goes so fast. None of us can predict what is coming in life, either as parents or just simply as people. We can't see what's coming around the next curve.
I had no idea I would have so much fun with my older kids. I watched people with older kids when I had little ones and it seemed like a country that I didn't have a valid passport to visit. I couldn't imagine it, in much the same way as my siblings-in-law can't see what is coming in a few years for their babies. My sister knew, because she had walked this road before I did, and now I know too. I think the key is to love each stage as much as you can, soaking up everything you can, since the next one comes when you aren't expecting it, and you are have to learn to parent differently at each age and stage.
Yesterday Ava was playing wiffle ball with her aunt, and they moved toward the vehicles. When Ava threw the ball, she hit Nana and Papa's side mirror of their truck and it shattered. Ava was instantly devastated, sobbing her heart out. The adults all laughed about the miracle of a plastic ball with holes in it breaking glass so easily. To us, it was no big deal, but Ava was embarrassed, and felt like she had made a huge mistake, and she worried that her beloved grandparents would be upset with her. We took her aside, let her cry it out, and then encouraged her to go and talk to Nana and Papa to work the situation out. When she came back from her discussion, she was all smiles, and the fun and games resumed.
I enjoyed that parenting moment. It provided the opportunity to talk about mistakes and conflict resolution. She was hesitant to go and talk to them, as all of us are when it involves interpersonal issues, but she was so glad when the reassurance came that her grandparents were not at all upset, and she understood that sometimes accidents happen and some things are beyond your control. It's not a bad lesson for the adults to remind themselves of from time to time.