I’ve seen a lot of talk about the fact that we only get 18 summers with our kids. We get reminders along the way about all of the things we’ll miss and that’s it’s all over in a snap.

I respect the mournful tones of other parents in the tender letting-go stages of parenthood, and others in the brand new, bone-tired stages and everywhere in between. But I honestly don’t wish for time to slow down. There are beautiful things about every stage, and I like moving through each one.

I’ve felt the length of every second of every day nursing a newborn every hour on the hour, feeling both the joyous bond and the bondage of the season where I felt like my body was not my own.

I’ve felt the excitement of big, toothless smiles and first teeth peeking through the surface, and all of the helplessness while trying to soothe their irritable process.

I’ve held a baby on an airplane with my new-parent anxiety in overdrive.

I’ve been through the trenches of potty training and toddlerhood, wondering if we’ll ever get to leave the house without armfuls of things and scheduling our lives around nap times.

I’ve felt the pride and sorrow of walking a child into their first day of kindergarten, and I’ll do it again this year, for the last time.

I’ve sat through parent-teacher conferences figuring out ways to best help an unruly young boy finish worksheets.

I’ve watched the sweetest sibling friendship develop as brothers fight over video game controllers one minute, and laugh all night in bunk beds the next.

I see my future as I prepare them to live without me.

I find myself in the glorious middle. Everyone walks, talks and pees in the potty, and we can get our shoes on and leave the house at any point of the day. My oldest is in his last year of elementary school, and my youngest is starting kindergarten. I’m going back to work since they will both be in school full-time, and I’m happy about it.

I am enjoying the progression of parenthood and all of the new stages that come with it. I am more relaxed than I have ever been. Not because I’m doing it perfectly, but because I love watching them blossom into who they’re going to be. Every day they surprise me with something new, and it’s mostly good.

There are plenty of things to cherish along the way, and new challenges to come, especially as we enter middle school next year. But I choose to savor this parenting stage as it is today, as it slowly flows into the next. I love looking back to appreciate how far we’ve come while staying aware of what’s ahead.

This lesser-maintenance phase is my life water, and I’m happy to adjust around my kids accordingly, as I always have. We all currently like each other and we are growing together and moving forward.

There are stages that I wish lasted longer, and others that I’m glad were over before we knew it. There will always be complications along the way, and when it comes time to turn them loose on their own, I will deeply mourn the loss of their daily presence. There’s just no way around that one.

But even then, we will be growing into new phases of life, and our family will evolve just like it did in all of the seasons before. Call me crazy, but I’m enjoying the scenery. I don’t want time to slow down, I want it to keep on moving.

Even when I’m a grandma.

Audra Rogers

Audra Rogers was a news photojournalist in her former life, but stopped to smell the roses by moving back to raise her family in the same small town where she grew up. You can read more about what Audra's up to on her blog RealHonestMom.com