I took the kids for a walk yesterday.
In and of itself, this isn’t that remarkable. They required a little incentive, but a $1 ice cream from the dollar tree was sufficient to get everyone dressed, shoes on and out the door. So off we set, wandering down the hill, going the “tricky way” around the restaurant and into the shopping plaza. We talked about poison ivy and why the pool wasn’t that crowded today, and whether or not it was a good idea to go swimming tomorrow. We talked about school and homeschooling and what we liked about this summer and what we wanted to do this fall.
I was struck, as we walked down the hill, and then back home, by how OLD they all were. Sam lost patience with how slow we were going (because I had to literally drag Lucky back up the hill – he kept trying to lay down) and snagged my keys and walked ahead. Julie and Jessie alternated between race walking and then resting until I caught up. There was no carriage to push, nobody begged me to carry them home. This was an entirely different experience.
I used to walk with the kids all the time. I walked when I had just Jessie in the super expensive pram that I had to have. I laid her in the bed, and would push her all over the place while she slept. I walked with her in baby carriers and then in bigger strollers. I walked with Sam in a sling, Jordyn and Harrison in the double stroller and Jessie trudging alongside. I walked with Jessie in the stroller and Sammy using his little monkey leash, and I’d pull on the tail to keep him from falling over. I walked with Julianna in the pram and Sam running along beside me. I walked in the rain and sunny weather, with kids sobbing and kids laughing and kids sleeping. I’ve walked more with my kids than I’ve done anything else.
But now… we’re going for very different kind of walks. I take a kid with me to walk the dog, and we talk about stuff. All kinds of stuff, about politics and nature and street signs and what the future might hold. I’m not doling out snacks and water bottles and goldfish crackers, I’m not insisting on hands before crossing the street.
I’ve really struggled, this summer, with coming to grips with the family I have. With accepting that there will be no more babies, that the children I have are all that I’ll get, and that’s perfect. That my job now isn’t so much to be creating a family as it is to be raising one. It’s not easy, I don’t think I’ll ever not miss the idea of another child. But I’m learning how to find the beauty in just these three kids. In Jessie’s height and grace and intelligence, in Sam’s sense of humor and resilience and his ability to survive, in Julianna’s sweetness and sarcasm and style. In the reality that I don’t have little kids anymore. I have three kids, and our adventures are different from what they used to be.