on the presence of growth and the absence of milestones
This afternoon, Ella came running in the back door, telling me I better come quick cause it's...Tessa. The look on Ella's face was interesting, and I decided to follow her out back and then there was a big announcement.
Tessa was swinging hard, pumping her little legs, pushing her Frozen boots (worn on the wrong feet, as is her signature style) back and forth on the swing. Grinning.
She was, for the first time, swinging all by herself.
Ella was hovering around her, waving her arms, describing the process by which she had trained her little sister, and calling out encouragement. All the while, Tessa just pumped and grinned. So sweet and so proud.
Similar moments have popped up through this year. Ella is proud of her mastery of cooking microwave popcorn, a skill her siblings have appreciated. Isaac has become a strong public speaker, implementing the use of note cards with key words to help him remember his points. He takes so much pride in preparing and executing his speech every week. And Drew is suddenly excelling at his grammar work this year, labelling sentences, spouting off parts of speech, and diagramming sentences with the best of them.
And then there's Silas who, you know, was born six months ago and is now sitting up, eating baby food, making ridiculous faces, and dancing in his exersaucer like a boss.
There's something about those milestones, those newly acquired skills that serve as concrete markers in time, and something about how they line the road of our childhoods that makes me nostalgic and proud of my littles and a little wistful that things were still so simple.
It seems to me like you grow up, and sometimes the milestones don't come so fast. Sometimes the milestones, the things that indicate change, are things like jeans that don't fit or friendships you used to have or places you haven't been lately but used to go. Sometimes the change isn't accomplished by a new sense of strength or accomplishment; most times, for me, the change is just change.
So all that thinking leads us somewhere, and this afternoon, as I hung out in the kitchen and folded laundry and texted about weekend plans and fed the baby and started meal planning for next week, I began to wonder how you really know if you're growing. As an adult, I mean. If there isn't the obvious Next Thing to Master, if there isn't a skill list for what I should be capable of as I approach 34 and a half years- how do I know that I am actually growing as a person? How do I be sure that the movement I feel isn't running in place? (Or what if I don't feel movement at all?) How do I know the changes I sense are more than changes in scenery, more than life passing by and seasons affecting the view out my kitchen window?
The passing of time seems to both strengthen and dim as I age, and maybe that because kids..... well, just kids. Their growth is so obvious, their capabilities are radically shifting every six months, and I feel like I'm always re-figuring out who they are now and what they need of me in light of that.
Maybe I grow with them, in my adjusting and sensing and responding to the newness of their seasons.
Maybe the answer is to shut-up, stop worrying about it, and just grow.
Maybe I would know it if I stopped. Maybe someone would tell me or I would sense it or the kids would flat-out say, "Mom...try to keep up here. You're falling behind."
If nothing else, I can celebrate the simple victories that they are finding as they make their way.
I can trust that their milestones are markers on my path, too. And even when our lives veer in different directions, their milestones will always be a part of my story as well.
Am I growing? I don't really know. Movement and fatigue and chaos are surely not the best indicators of growth. But life and hope and redemption- those are some of the things that I fight for, that I cling to, that I sift through my own chaos in search of. And I think those three- life, hope, and redemption- are friends of growth, maybe even forms of it in some way.
So here we are. Five growing kids. One growing mom. Still figuring this thing out together.
A side note: if you're reading this, HELLO! I know it's been so long and I've been off the radar for awhile, but I've missed this little space. Thanks for stopping in. I hope to be here again soon. - Becky