Each week in Moms Talk, our Moms Council of experts and smart moms takes your questions, gives advice and shares solutions. So grab a cup of coffee and settle in as we start the conversation today with this question:
Ages and stages, what is your favorite age and why?
Jan Katz-Kellogg: When I saw this question, I had an immediate reaction and it was: Well, it’s not this stage! At 15, (16 next month) my son is transitioning into maturity one dramatic step at a time. It seems to be a time of great highs and great lows both in events and moods. Five years from now, I bet I look at this stage completely differently. Hindsight will have given me better insight to this stage of teenage angst, and I’m sure it will be full of fond memories. There are some very good things happening at this age. Though, it is sometimes like navigating a minefield, and you just hope everyone survives it.
Looking back over some of the more memorable stages and ages, the ones that come to mind first are ones that were special to just us two and made some fond memories.
The “Popcorn in the Bed “ Phase. When my son was a toddler, we had a special Sunday night activity: piling up pillows on my bed and arranging trays of popcorn and drinks picnic style. We watched movies until bedtime. Since normally crumbly things were not allowed to be eaten in bed, eating popcorn ”in the bed” had particular allure to my son. We did this for several years and I never remember having a bad Monday morning during that time!
Having to Wear a Suit to Church Phase. When he was 5 years old, my son insisted on having a “grown-up man’s suit” to wear to church. I bought a black suit and even had it tailored for him. He preferred white oxford shirts and ties with ducks or other animals on them. Even though at the time we went to a church where almost no one wore a suit to the main services, my son would solemnly walk down the aisle each Sunday to a bench close to the front. The minute he put on that suit he took on a very serious persona, a special reverence for God, and he stayed in that mode until the suit came off. Sometimes, if he was in an especially reverent mood, that suit would stay on all day. I would see the smiles of people in the congregation as he walked down that aisle each Sunday. Looking back, I realize that he was trying to be pleasing to God; something that, as an adult, didn’t come near as effortless for me.
Becoming an Athlete Phase. When it clicked with him that he wanted to be an athlete, it was a life changing phase that was fascinating to watch. The phase began at about 10 years old, and he is still experiencing it today. He had been playing baseball since he was three (T-ball), and it seemed like all at once, all those practices, lessons learned and the game itself went from being a sport he felt he had to play to a sport he wanted to play. To see that inner fire be lit and that he is still driven by it today is an awesome thing to witness. He went from needing to be reminded of practice or of a game day to wanting to be there first and last—and the absolute best. He wakes up every morning with an excited inner drive, sets goals and uses self discipline (largely learned through sports) to accomplish them. Seeing this lets me know I did the right thing in making him go to practices during some of those earlier times when he thought I was “mean.”
Gentlemanly Phase: I hope this phase is forever. For the past several years, my son has become a real gentleman. He is the guy that instinctively opens a door for a woman, anticipates an elderly person’s need out in public or puts himself last when entering a restaurant. It doesn’t seem to be a conscious gesture but an unselfish one. I love this about him and feel a little burst of pride every time I see this part of his character surface.
As I have been writing this, I’ve thought of many more ages and phases in my sweet son’s life. As his mother, I think every age and phase is special and unique to him. But I will stop right here because it’s a pretty safe bet that while I could talk about the “popcorn in the bed” phase or ones like it all day, unless it’s your kid and your phase, your eyes will probably glaze over with more examples of my son’s cute phases. I hope this article leaves you remembering those special times in your child’s life!
Kim Koch: I remember finally admitting to myself that I was pregnant. Once that realization sunk in, a deep unconditional love filled my heart.
I gave birth to this amazing blue-eyed tiny human. Sitting and rocking him the first year was such a peaceful time, even in the moments of mini chaos, not knowing exactly what would pacify or comfort him but hoping maybe extra love, a clean diaper, a good burp or the pacifier would.
On his first birthday, he stood up, raised his hands into the air for balance and ran through the house. I remember watching his dad take him out a little after that. Running, hands still in the air, the sun shining through his silky hair and his cheeks bouncing was a beautiful sight.
The toddler years were so much fun, we got him a little poodle and an iguana, and he was so gentle and caring with them both. There was not a park locally that did not get played on by all of us. Paint made from flower, dish soap and food colors was splattered all over the tool shed and garage.
He took his own training wheels off his 12” bicycle (his Suki’) at age three with his Dad’s tools and was perfectly content riding though the mud puddle in our driveway for hours at a time. Vinegar and baking soda were always on hand for volcanos to set off on the playground.
He had a tiny little 1/16th size violin, which through listening to the same cassette over and over again and with the help of teacher, he began to play.
We would cuddle up in the bed and read books until his eyes closed each and every night. He had at least five costumes on hand that he could dress up in and be whoever he decided to be.
Elementary school led to T-ball and books identifying all the creatures he could capture with rubber gloves and put into a bug box with many neighborhood friends right beside him. Silly songs and silly dances filled our home. Photography adventures from his perspective filled our hearts and made us smile. Rudiments and music filled our lives. Upward basketball was the sport to play.
Middle school showed us this studious young man with strong reading skills, a love for history and a strong passion for science and math. His musical skills were branching; new instruments were being picked up and played. It gave him positive focus.
High School: This almost 6 foot young man jumped out of my vehicle every morning with a kiss on my cheek as he exited. He had tasteful blue highlights in his long golden hair. Good grades and an idea of what he wanted out of life. A busy musical schedule and homeschooling came about, which led to sitting and talking about past wars, the future, broken hearts, the good and bad in people, and where he aspires to be by the time he is 30.
Each and every age and stage has much love and many challenges. You learn to hold on when you need to and let go when you have to. Don’t take a moment for granted. Be open and honest and earn the same from them. Love fiercely, smile proudly and believe in yourself so your children can believe in themselves.