Growing Up

Yesterday was beautiful here in San Francisco — nothing but blue skies, and in the 70s! I took my son to the zoo to bask in the sunshine and we had a wonderful time. As always I was struck by how many big bellies I saw. I remember how hard it was to frequent family-oriented places in the year and a half we were trying for a second child. Every where I looked there were moms with kids much younger than mine, waddling after their toddlers. It hurt to see so many people easily enjoy what I wanted so desperately.

Now I see those same moms and I feel nothing but relief. Relief that I’m coming out of that very-young child phase. Relief that I don’t have to do the new baby thing again.

My kids are getting older. They are becoming more mature and more self-sufficient. And even though things with my daughter will never be easy, I do think they will become easier.

I can’t wait for what the next phase of our life as a family will bring. I am so excited to start traveling with my children, taking them to new countries every summer as we try out living abroad for a month at a time. I look forward to exploring the world with them, just me and my two little adventurers.

Next summer they will be eight and almost five! While I worry about their super selective eating, I think the three of us will have a ton of fun exploring new places. I want my kids to be open-minded and accepting. I want them to be curious and inquisitive. I think visiting new places with them will be the coolest thing in the world. Plus, I can’t wait to immerse our family in Spanish (which my son is finally lets me use with him; I guess he understands it a lot better now).

Growing up in Hong Kong we traveled a lot. I have very fond memories of being somewhere new with my family. I can’t wait to make those kind of memories with my own kids. Sure it will sometimes be difficult. Sure they (and I!) will sometimes be unhappy. But we’ll learn to get through it together.

It’s nice to finally find that one thing that fires my passion and gets me excited: I want to travel with my family! The idea of spending a month with them somewhere each summer makes me thankful to be a teacher, and incentivizes budgeting in a way nothing else has. It’s the thing I would happily build my life around, a goal for which I can easily sacrifice.

Soon it’s going to be a reality! My kids really are getting big. My daughter will be seven in June and has already been wearing size 7/8 clothes (which is a medium in the girl’s sections of most stores!) for a year. She just grew into a size 1 shoe! She has lost eight baby pearls and the whole front of her mouth is filled with giant adult teeth. She is long and lanky and looks every inch the elementary student. She is truly a girl now, no more little about it.

My son is not even three and a half and he’s already 41 inches tall. He wears size 11 shoes and size 4T and 5T clothes. He’s so big that I have to be careful not to expect more of him than his 3yo self can deliver. He’s clearly been going through some developmental spurt lately because suddenly he wants to read much longer, more complicated books and can engage you in his own multi-faceted stories. He can be reasoned with (to a point) and wants to do everything himself. He doesn’t even need the toddler seat on the toilet anymore.

I realized the other day I can sell the strollers and donate the training potty (which has to live in the hallway, because our bathroom is too small to house it) as we never use them anymore. I’ve already gotten rid of most of their baby and toddler toys. These are the final vestiges of my kids baby and toddler-hood, and I am excited to see them go.

I know a lot of moms have a hard time watching their kids grow up. There are definitely wistful moments when I miss their soft baby skin and warm baby smell. But mostly I’m just excited for this new phase and whatever it will bring. I don’t think parenting babies and toddlers was my forte, I really do think I’ll enjoy parenting older kids a lot more.

So when I round up all the clothes and shoes and toys my kids have outgrown, I don’t feel sad for what we’re leaving behind, but instead am excited for what is to come.

Bring on the big kids!

7 Comments

  1. I’m glad to hear you had a nice day. Where I live (Northern Europe) it’s been so gloomy for months, but now the spring finally seems to be coming.

    Traveling with bigger kids is great! I love to travel, but earlier it was very difficult with my son who is easily frustrated and anxiety-prone and just wants/needs familiarity and routine. We went to Amsterdam to visit friends when he was 3 and it was….well, lovely but also incredibly difficult and tiring. He got upset for SEEING a strange dish, although nobody was trying to force him to eat. Etc., etc. But now at 8 he is easier to travel with and even seems to like it, finally! I have a self-imposed rule that we will not try any kind of “not-family-friendly” vacation before the youngest kid in the family is 6 🙂 (maybe 5 would do).

  2. I am so glad that you are looking forward for what is to come. I have the opposite (which I hope fades with time). I cry and cry over the thought of not having those sweet warm bodies pressed up against mine, of no more late night nursing sessions, of baby hands and first baby kisses. I adore my big girl too and all of the fun we have together but I cannot seem to let go of never having a bitty baby to hold:( Getting rid of all of the tiny baby clothes, equipment and things rips my heart in two.

  3. I get this. It sounds great. I’m currently pregnant with my second. My son will be 4 when his sibling is born.

    And I’m beginning to think this was a big mistake. Why rock the boat now?!?!

    1. I had a lot of fun with my second. Having more confidence that I could do it, having been through it before, it made the second time around a lot less stressful and worrisome. I was able to really enjoy the best parts and let the harder parts fall into the background, especially since I knew they would eventually pass. I definitely reveled in the babyhood of my second child. But now that they are getting older I’m excited for the next phase. It’s a nice place to be.

  4. B: If you REALLY want babies in your life you can have them. Sign up for foster care ~~ you can say only infants or whatever age group you want. You can also say ‘respite only’ so they are short term not long term.
    More broadly, travel with children can go well as long as you set your expectations properly and age appropriate. Staying in AB&B type lodging gives you enormously more control over food needs. Each day have at least ONE activity that is strictly geared to your children’s interests and age. What you want is to expand their worlds and have them enjoy it.

  5. This is a good set of points. A friend recently had her 5th baby (all younger than the kid) and I’ve been suffering serious baby envy. It’s a struggle to accept that part of life right now.

  6. Its all very bittersweet for me. I’m excited about the next phase & also mourning the cute, round, baby-faces and snuggles. They are both getting tall & lean, even L doesn’t want to cuddle so much anymore 🙁 But yet, I can have conversations with both, play games, traveling is easier….and that is great!
    I love your plan for traveling. I can’t do anything like that (and not sure I’d want to?) but its so so good to have a plan to work towards. (you are turning into the FW now, haha!)

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