I Loved That Stage

I stood at the counter pouring water into a glass. Behind me, my 12 year old son was bumping around the kitchen helping to cook with his sister. In front of me, my eyes fell to a photo stuck to the fridge with a magnet.

The boy in the picture was the same as the one standing behind me. Except also not the same... 5 years younger.

I got lost looking at the smile of that sweet boy gazing at me from the snapshot. I could almost hear his high pitched voice and laughter. I loved that boy!

And I thought of a phrase I hear myself say all the time when I get chatting with a friend about one of her kids or mine.

"I love that stage!"

The new baby that still feels like an extension of your own body, draped over your chest or shoulder. The way their tiny hand wraps around your finger. How the rest of the world seems to disappear, as you rock and sway with that sweet babe. Watching a million different expressions cross their face while they drift to sleep.

Without a doubt, "I love that stage!"

The chubby toddler that's delighting in their very first steps. The way they are fascinated by the simple things we take for granted - the ant on the driveway, their grandpa's glasses, the way the water feels splashing against their hand. The dreamy look and soft lashes that just undo you when they've fallen asleep snuggled in your arms.

Without a doubt, "I love that stage!"

The preschooler that asks for the same book every night at bedtime. Watching them form their first real friendships. The way they wear a superhero costume or a fancy dress for a trip to the grocery store.

Without a doubt, “I love that stage!"

The early elementary sweet pea that still fits so well in your lap as they proudly read aloud. The way they almost fall over when they really get laughing. The sound of the door flying open as they rush into the house to tell you their latest adventure from the back yard.

Without a doubt, “I love that stage!"

The 'big kid' 5th grader that melts you when their hand holds yours on the walk home from the school. The way they're developing their own unique interests, and how their eyes light up to talk about them. The joy and confidence all over their body for things they used to be too timid for, like leaping off the dock into the sunshine and water.

Without a doubt, “I love that stage!"

I know. I know there's a lot of hard in each of these stages. It's not all starry eyes and snuggles. I've shed totally overwhelmed and "I've had it" tears, throughout every season of this whole mom gig.

And even still, without a doubt, "I love that stage!"

There is magic in every part of the story, and we get to uncover a little more of it every day.

My eyes clung to the little face in the picture on the refrigerator. I loved that stage! He was mischievous and melt your heart sweet sometimes in the very same moment. He collected rocks from every walk we ever took. The antics of his toddler brother made him laugh so hard, that you couldn't stop from laughing yourself. He was expert level when it came to getting lost in imaginative worlds. And when he got tired, I'd find him snuggled in close to his twin sister on the couch.

Without a doubt, I loved that stage.

And my ears took in the sounds of the boy behind me in the kitchen. The one that stands as tall as me now. The one who has both the voice and hair of Thor! The one that's browning meat on the stove to help make tacos for dinner. The one that talks non-stop about sports statistics, and thrives out on the lacrosse field. The one that says "I love you Mom," each time he walks by me. The one that still giggles a little too hard for mischief, and still has the most tender heart. The one I just adore.

And without a doubt, I love THIS stage!

I stood right there for a minute, gazing at the boy in the picture and so acutely aware of the one behind me. Right in the middle.

And I knew, without a doubt, I'll always say...

I loved that stage.

All of 'em.

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