Growth spurts and sunshine

We had a park play date today – called some of our friends, packed up some donuts and coffee, and let everybody run around for three hours in the sunshine and falling leaves. Friends new and old, from far away and down the street, chose to spend Sunday morning watching all of our children have a sugar high.

It was one of those moments where I wanted time to stop, the relaxing parent socializing time with happy children in the great outdoors – that rare moment that actually aligned with my expectations of parenthood back before we had any kids. (They do happen! It’s just not the every day.) We cooed over a newborn, and marveled at how huge our “babies” have gotten as we watched Griff sprint up the slide.

All of our kids are growing fast. These are the people we swapped baby advice with, and groaned with over spit up and colic. The kids have known each other since birth or at least early toddlerhood, and are clearly at ease with one another. This too is something I dreamt about. I wondered who these kids and parents would be in our kids lives, as the parents and kids from my childhood that fit this description are still some of the most important people in mine.

As adoptive parents, we feel pressured to give our kids a storybook life sometimes. We feel so lucky to be parents that on the days when we are less than perfect, the guilt can be pretty epic. But just like every other family, we have good days and bad days – and good days are so, so good.

Today, we didn’t worry about forgotten backpacks or when the bus was coming. I didn’t tell anyone to hurry, and my to do list was mostly quality time with the people we love. These days may not stretch on forever in time, but they certainly will in memory. I suspect a lot of us really enjoyed our extended moment in the sun, listening to the shrieks as the kids shared Dave’s six dollar Nerf rocket and made chalk murals on the concrete.

Tonight, we all head up to family dinner and more of the same. In my ideal year, we have a day of this every weekend. Yes! We love seeing our kids in new sports and art classes, at library reading time and in swimming lessons. But there is something magical about young kids and free time that can’t be replicated, and that we can’t get back once they’ve grown up too much.

My sisters and I were laughing about the mental image of Dave has a soccer dad, announcing the game from the sidelines and waving a bag of oranges at half time. I am sure we have years of practices and matches of all flavors ahead of us, full Saturdays spent carpooling kids from one activity to another. Tess and Remy now have swimming lessons without us in the pool. I could take a book. The shock was undescribable!

So I’m enjoying every minute now of unstructured time, of spontaneous play and that sense of childhood stretching out before them, even if it’s an illusion at this point. The bittersweet sense of kids growing up? I am leaning into celebrating their milestones, and marveling over there strength and empathy.

Tomorrow morning, we will stuff folders and sweaters into backpacks and tell the kids to hurry and eat their yogurt, so we can be outside on time for the bus. We will send them off to school, kissing everyone goodbye with that little ache for the hours will be apart during the day. The Littles will watch at the window as the Bigs get on the bus and Dave and I get in our cars and drive away. They can relate to my sense of longing, even if they’re feeling it in the opposite sense.

But tonight, we’re off for an evening of laughter and family! We will tease my mom for making too much food, and tell the kids to play nicely with their cousins. Tess and Remy will boss the Littles around and complain when we tell them it’s time to go home. And we will start the week looking forward to another weekend, only a few days away.

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