Two summers ago, as Adrain and I collapsed from an action-packed weekend, we talked about the fact that we have hit a new (and great) place in parenting, and it has encouraged me so much as our kids just keep getting more mature and more responsible with the passing of time. To be honest, I love babies but I wasn't particularly crazy about the baby toddler stage in my own home. It just wasn't my favorite. We dealt with colic and horrible acid reflux and nursing issues and sleeping issues and I barely knew my own name. However this stage- the tween and early teen years, is my favorite so far!
One of our favorite family past times in the summer, is hiking. We're talking 5-7 mile elevation climbs into mountain-y regions. We love it. We pack as many as we can get into each season, and this particular year, we had finally gotten our kiddos to carry their own lunches. (You have no idea how happy this made my man.) As we relaxed after this hike and talked about our weekend, we realized it was the first time we'd pushed our kiddos to their max, and then came home, had another crazy day and both kids still had their heads in the game so to speak. It felt so good so see the maturity and growing up process in these sweet little ones who aren't so little these days.
There were no pre-bedtime melt-downs.... no tears with teeth brushing.... just smiles and "what a great day Mom... when is our next hike?" From both kids! Adrain and I were more tired than they were! This is the best time of the year to hike in my opinion too. We are always careful to listen to the rangers and choose a hike they recommend... this one had some snow bridges and snow run-offs in the form of rushing waterfalls that we had to work together to cross. The waterfalls always scare me a little. But again, we work together as a team and we are cautious. In fact, we turned back because we crossed a pretty big snow bridge and came to a crazy water fall. I looked at it, and said, "Okay... I think we're good now." We knew we wouldn't be able to go all the way to the top of a viewpoint on this hike because of the time of year, and the ranger let us know about where we'd be wanting to stop.
The smells were amazing... it was fresh and clean and of course the colors were vibrant. With snow still melting, everything was bright green. We stopped for lunch with a magnificent view and really enjoyed the peace. There is nothing like eating lunch on a mountaintop. If you haven't tried it, I highly recommend it. I always try to pack fun things for our lunches too. Just to make it a special treat, you know. Of course, there is plenty of goofing around... I told these two to make it look like they were pushing the rock off the trail for us. They are so funny. We try and take time to smell the flowers... and I think that's my favorite part about motherhood at this stage. Being ABLE to stop and smell the flowers with my kids alongside me. We are bonding and getting to know one another and it's actually incredible. I'm finding myself leading them less and less, and walking and talking alongside them more and more. I never knew it could be so fun to hang out with my kids!
And at some point in the middle of the hike, both kids start talking about ice cream. We started the tradition of hitting an ice cream store on the way back home a long time ago, and now I doubt we'll ever be able to hike without offering that reward to these two hoodlums- even when they are in college. Apart from the company, the smells, and the sights... there's also the sound of dozens of waterfalls all around you. It's amazing and such a great way to spend a day. I suppose in closing I'd just like to say that if you're smack in the middle of chaotic motherhood with diapers and bottles and bags stocked with enough loot to keep four people alive in an avalanche, just know this.... it gets better and better as these small people you brought into the world become their own little people. I'm in the sweet spot of motherhood right now. I'm sure it's bound to change after all the teen year horror stories I hear, but for now I think I'll just stop and smell the flowers and savor this moment in time.