My kids love to hear stories about themselves when they were younger. They want to know all the details, what they liked and didn’t like, what they did that made us laugh. The sad thing is, I often can’t remember things with great detail. Certain events stand out to me like no other and then there’s the regular, every day stuff that seems to all run together. I don’t like that. I sometimes wish I had written more down when they were younger, taken more pictures, more video, more something. I’m still figuring out how to document more to remember more.
The other thing the kids ask is, “what is your favorite age?” Despite my lack of documentation, my answer to that one is easy.
My favorite age is 10.
Because at 10, she’s this long-legged beauty, with pieces of her dad and I evident in every smile. She’s tender-hearted and can only read so many books where characters die before she needs to read some not-so-serious ones for a while. She’s the first-born who diligently aims to please, listens the first time and works so hard for approval of others, no matter how many times I tell her she only needs an audience of One.
She’s the one who can’t understand when I explain that sometimes you need to break the rules, to get out of the box and not worry so much about the way things might work out. The only one who keeps her room neat and organized, who wants to learn everything that interests her all at one time. The one who writes and writes and reads and reads and all I can do is hope I am teaching her how to live the life of a reader and writer enough to satisfy her appetite and let her know that this kind of living is so much better than testing and levels and formal schoolwork.
She’s the girl who still wants to snuggle at night, have meaningful conversations in the dark, the one who restores my hope that childhood can still be innocent in a not-so-innocent world. And even though she wants to wear just a little makeup and pays attention to her clothing and details as she gets ready, she still admits that she was born in the wrong century, that prairie life would have suited her much better. She’s old at heart, and saddens when the realization comes that she can’t live with us forever. She has my heart, this 10-year-old soul.
My favorite age is 8.
Because at 8, he’s matured so much that I look back at those difficult years of crying over everything and realizing that I now understand how sensitive boys really are. And I remind myself that even though he’s got a ways to go, he’s come so far. His desire for structure might drive me crazy when he has to know everything in order. All. The. Time. And he might drive me more crazy when things change and he struggles to go with the flow.
But then again, he’s way more brave than I ever thought he would be and I can see how all my prayers for toughness and boldness are finally showing their colors. He wants to climb and be outside and be free and teach himself to flip and do parkour. He makes me want to close my eyes and not watch because inside I don’t want him to get hurt and I yell “be careful” 1743 times a day which drives him crazy.
And it drives me crazy too because inside I know that I don’t want him to really pursue a safe life. I want him to seek the Lord and live out His plans which are anything but safe when you really follow Him. At 8, I see him turning the corner into a new part of childhood, where I know I have to show him certain things that I’m not ready for. I know he’ll probably need his dad more and more as he gets older and yet I’m so glad he still wants to snuggle me in the morning. He still wants to hold my hand and gives me spontaneous hugs all day. What’s not to love about 8?
My favorite age is 6.
Because at 6, she’s a wild and free one. What else can describe her spirit? Caught smack in the middle between her older and younger siblings, she’s constantly flowing back and forth between the little girl she really is and the girl she wants to be.
She’s the girl I always wanted to be, the one I look at now and pray I can be more like. Some might give her attention span a label, some might try to calm it down, some might let it frustrate them while they make her sit still and fit in their box. I’m guilty of all three. But, mostly. Mostly. I let her be that girl. That wild and free bird who isn’t afraid to raise her hands in worship, who is paying attention even when you think she isn’t, who marches to her own beat, whose hair I can’t bear to tame because it feels like I’d be taming her spirit.
I see, even at her tender young age, her desire to know her gifts, her desire to be “good” at something like her older siblings. She has the most generous spirit, always thinking about others and wanting them to have what she has, even if it’s her special time out with us. She’s the one who can frustrate me the most and also the one who needs the most reassurance of my love. Her smile lights up a room, her freedom speaks to others. There’s just something about 6.
My favorite age is 3.
Because at 3, she oozes little girl and cuteness and fun and laughter and all of it echoes around our house. She’s learned how to look at us in a way that makes us belly laugh and want to plant kisses all over her plump little cheeks. They days of 3 are full of made up stories and songs, dressing up, dancing, and yelling, “watch me!”
Her teeth will probably cost a fortune to fix one day because her thumb somehow always ends up in her mouth. Her sense of time is always about what happened, “last year” which sends the older kids into fits of giggles. At 3, she has 3 big kids to look up to, who love on her and have led her to being independent so much more quickly than her mama wanted.
I look at her and realize that I want these “little girl years” to linger longer since she seems to grow up more quickly. She’s the one I still bury my head into as she’s falling asleep. I breathe in the scent of age 3 and know I’m breathing straight joy because that’s how she lives her life. She erupts in smiles and you can’t help but smile at what 3 looks like. At what 3 makes you feel.
My favorite age is 22 months.
Because at 22 months, he’s all trouble. Trouble and curls and smiles and batting eyelashes. When he finally is getting the hang of sleep, when he finally wants to fall asleep on me, when he finally wants to start talking. 22 months has made me realize again that children are not on my timetable. And that I must have forgotten every younger season of my older kids because it seems like he’s the most challenging of them all.
But oh, that face. And that smile. And those eyes. And that hair. Even though nothing can stay picked up in our house and even though he wants to throw everything in sight, and even though food is always on the floor where he eats, how can can 22 months not be my favorite age?
Because it really, really hits me that the baby years are almost gone. That even though I can see this new season and the taste is just on my lips, I am still slightly in mourning and saying goodbye to the season that will never again be in my life. And so 22 months? It’s surely my favorite of all. It’s a reminder of God’s promises and knowing our desires. Of His faithfulness in all things. Of his grace and mercy every day.
These are the days, mamas. These are hard days, no doubt. Days that can leave you in tears and days when you feel like your head will explode and all the spinning plates are going to fall at the same time. Days when you’re so tired you can’t believe anyone is as tired as you are. Days when you think if just one more thing happens you might crumple in a ball and not get up off the floor. Or decide to lock yourself in your room with a box of cookies and tell everyone else to make their own dinner.
But these are full days. Beautiful days. Days like no others ever will be. Of His revealing Himself in the small moments of life, in the days of these favorite ages.