Rachael turned ten yesterday. Ten. We had her party on Monday since there was no school. The girls had a great time gliding around the local ice rink, stopping only for the briefest nod to cake and presents. I stood and watched, freezing and dwelling on the surreal nature of it all. (Sorry about the dark photo–it was taken in terrible lighting through a pane of glass.)

How could this be the tenth birthday party I’ve thrown for my little daughter? I remember her first birthday party in our tiny apartment in Lake Oswego. It really doesn’t seem like that long ago. And in another ten years, it’s possible (though not probable, I hope) that she could be married! If you know me, you know I was flirting with depression by now, thinking such thoughts, until something wonderful happened. Ethan threw a major fit.

A full-blown, MacDaddy humdinger. I scolded, I threatened, I gripped, I swatted, I yelled. And right then, the epiphany hit me harder than my son hits his sisters: Older Kids Are Easier. They’re more interesting to talk to, require less physically, and show you some results for your many years of parenting. In sum, with older children, you get more bang for your buck.

Don’t get me wrong. I am in no hurry for Ethan to age; in fact, I’ve spent many moons wishing I could slow down time and enjoy my wee ones a bit longer. But then, on days like today, I wonder: what if my wish came true, and they stayed three forever? Oh, I’m so thankful I don’t have magic powers. (Yet. I’m not giving up.) I suppose that children growing up too fast beats the alternative: permanent toddlers.

This may sound like a sour attitude toward toddlers, but what I mean to convey is an optimistic outlook about the inevitability of change, especially within our families. I’m still sad that my kids are growing up, and probably always will be. When they’re thirty, I’ll mourn that they are no longer twenty. But there’s not a single thing I can do about it, so I’d better learn to just enjoy.

And having said all this, I will also say that I am thrilled with the way my not-so-little Rachael has turned out so far. A perfect ten, if you ask me. I am not kidding or just blogbragging (blagging? brogging?). She’s pretty fantastic.

As was the cake Aunt Julie whipped up for her. Hooray for talented sisters!

8 thoughts on “Perfect 10

  1. Happy late birthday, Rachael! She was such a joy to have in Primary. Wise beyond her years for sure. I agree with you totally on the whole “it sucks that your kids grow up too fast” but also on the “toddlers are only fun for a little while” thoughts. I’m right there with you. Miller will be baptized this year and it boggles my mind. He’s still a sunbeam, right???

  2. Happy Birthday Rachael! Wow…I remember when we were traveling to Tillamook and you were about to puke on those windy roads because you were pregnant with her. Seems like yesterday.

  3. Oh, it gives me hope that perhaps my children will become easier, more enjoyable, and have more *bang for the buck* in a few years (or more)! ::sigh:: Jen, you are a fantastic writer…write more and more and more!

  4. I know what you mean about older kids. Emma is only 2 but the thought of this next one coming and having to start from square one is kinda discouraging. It's nice though to see all your hard work pay off. I have enjoyed all the stages Emma is going through and get excited in her success. Great perspective.

  5. Sarah–yes, we were, just yesterday. I hope Rache is having as much fun at ten as you and I had! (not possible–too few “forts” in our house)

    I know…Riley and Rache in YW? Weren’t they just in kg together? And yes…my sister is so generous to do a neat cake like that for all our b-days. Good thing, since I’m cake-illiterate!

    btw: my blog is acting funky and you have to click on the post title to get the photos and text to pop up in the right order. Otherwise the pics are just in a random order. Trying to figure this out…sorry!

  6. Jen, I feel your pain. Toddler years, your oldest getting older, sad as you watch her youth slip away, year by year.

    Weren’t you and I just 10?

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