Hey kids, I love where you’re at right now.

Like, right this moment.

No, it’s not because both of you are tucked in bed, the sweetness of sleep wrapping you up like a down comforter.

It just quietly dawned on me that this stage in your lives is incredibly fun. In a few months, one of you will be in 4th grade and the other in middle school. We’re done with the toddler tantrum phase and have not yet launched into the teenage trauma one.

This middle space? It’s brilliant.

I read blog posts by moms who are worried about the baby years flitting by. Depressed because they are going to miss the cuddles and the pudgy fingers and kissable toes. Moms afraid they’re getting their last bouquet of dandelions presented to them with an earnest, “I wuf you, mommy.”

I won’t lie—I miss those moments, too. In fact, I’m one of those moms who writes those heartfelt, “Where did the baby years go?” posts.

But let’s be real—those years sometimes had me feeling like I was in a washing machine’s fastest spin cycle. For heavily soiled, grass-stained clothes. Swirling at the speed of lightning. There was sleep training and teething and mountains of laundry that smelled like spit-up and poop. There was diaper rash and flu season and spaghetti on the floor. And did I mention the poop?

Well-meaning older moms told me to enjoy every moment. But, that moment when one of you was screaming because your beloved blankie was MIA and the other decided to take a shower in a gallon of milk? Yeah, I’d rather not dwell on that moment.

People told me the days are long, but the years are short. At that point, I didn’t really give a rodent’s behind about the years. I just wanted the day to be over and done with.

This is going to sound like I’m vying for the laziest mom award, but here’s the thing: I love that you can do stuff by yourself now.

Like this Saturday morning, I woke up to the sweet symphony of spoons clinking against our trusty Corelle bowls. You had gotten breakfast for yourselves; I had slept in. I woke up feeling like a real human being and not just mama, the milk supplier or the pancake maker.

I love that I can tell you to go shower and—after three or four repetitions—it actually happens. And, miracle of miracles, you come down for dinner, relatively clean.

I love that we can play board games together. Not just Candy Land. But games that are actually fun for dad and me. I get to show you I have some swag with my smooth moves at Monopoly Deal.

I love that I don’t have to watch Dora and Mickey Mouse or listen to “Wheels on the Bus” playing on loop in the car. We can do movie nights with popcorn and pizza—things I’m personally devoted to, but with you both I have a perfectly reasonable excuse to indulge in.

I love that your jokes are pretty darn funny. And, you actually get puns these days.

I love that I still get to tuck you in at night. But, I don’t have to do the whole song and dance routine when I’m dog tired. Now I just pray with you and kiss you goodnight and let you read in bed.

I see more of your personality now. I catch glimpses of the grown-up you. When you tilt your head a certain way. Or use an impressively “big” word without even meaning to. Or show me how to use an app on my phone.

You need me less and less. I don’t mourn that. It’s how things are supposed to turn out, the natural course of life. It gives each of us (yes, even me) the space to grow and chase after our dreams. But I don’t believe you’ll ever fully, completely stop needing me. Or me, you.

I’ll give you a quick hug as you head off for school. There won’t be tears. We’re long past that. There won’t be little arms wrapping themselves around my neck. There won’t be the excited dash back to me when I pick you up from school.

Instead, there’ll be a nonchalant “hi” for me and a more enthusiastic “see-ya” to your friends. But I can see your shoulders relax in a way that says “I’m home”.

There’ll still be time for us to catch up. There’ll still be, “Mama, can you help me with this math homework?” We’ll talk about the highs and the lows and the in-betweens as you both help yourselves to crunchy apples and I sip my coffee.

Yes, there’s absolutely no question that those baby years were precious.

But that was then.

And this is now.

And now is just as good.

You may also like:

Dear Daughter As You Move On To Middle School

To My Middle School Son

The Kids May Be Grown, But Mom Is Still Their Home

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Susan Narjala

Susan Narjala is a freelance writer who shares her faith with authenticity and humor, and has been published on leading Christian sites. You can find her at susannarjala.com and @susannarjalawrites.