(Spoiler alert: Not so scary.)
I was just sorting through my August photos in Lightroom, rating and labeling and organizing the images (I am a few weeks behind, but still staying on top of my system happily!). As I do so each month, there's always a moment of reflection and often new insight that I find about the kids, our home, our lives or something going on around and within our family. I noticed, on this go round, the diversity of ways in which I captured my eldest in particular. The photos (those above and others) tell me the story of an active, creative, funny, strong, and loving person. Which is precisely who he is. And who he always has been. And that's the thing that's been sticking with me of late and coming to mind often. Our children do not become someone else the moment the enter the teenage years. They simply and beautifully become more of themselves. And oh, what joy it is to watch and experience alongside them. Sure, there are bumps and challenges and oh so many growing pains. There are disagreements and strife as they stretch outside of our comfort zone, as they try on different parts of themselves, as we navigate new territory together. Ah, but you know? I remember (and still experience) the will of a three year old growing child to look a little different but to be not all that different at its core. Stretching themselves - and us all along with them - that seems to be what growing up is, looking slightly different from age to age.
I don't write about the day to day of my oldest children here very often, and I try to protect their story as their own to tell. But looking at these pictures, and being reminded of this frequent thought I've have of late, I just had to share that with you today. Just in case there's a mom out there reading today with a very little one, fearing what is ahead. I want to tell you about the absolute joy I feel in parenting my early teens these days. The fun we have together is more than anything I could have imagined, and the ways in which they inspire me are countless. With even my older children still so young and my experience obviously limited I don't mean to discount the struggles of raising teenagers or the serious challenges that many parents face. I only mean to suggest that we needn't accept the perception of the big bad scary teen years. I reject that wholeheartedly. And wholeheartedly, just as I did when they were infants, four years old or ten, I feel so lucky to be their Mama. And here's a little secret and an unfolding pleasant surprise to me - holding an infant child of mine in my arms might be one of the most magical experiences in life....but oh, trying to hold a tall and lanky as-tall-as-me son in my arms? Just as much magic.