Our kids were in Vacation Bible School a few weeks ago, so I decided to enjoy a break from catching up (not that I think that is even possible) and take a morning rest by the pool. Between swim team, field hockey league, playing Uno Attack, and soaking in all the summer moments with our four kids, I had forgotten what it felt like to breath and enjoy a moment to myself. Such is the life of motherhood, and it is my greatest joy.

I could easily be addicted to having babies. Few things are more amazing than meeting a brand new human. I’ve never been one to require much sleep, so the sleepless, newborn nights were tolerable for me. The smell, softness, and pure joy found swaddled in baby blankets is the best! I’ve told Patrick many times, “If all I had to do was give birth and care for babies for the first month of their lives, we would have one hundred children”.

By the pool that day, I was listening to music and thinking about my presentation for an upcoming event when two women caught my attention. Surrounding them were five toddlers, two double strollers, and several bags filled with snacks, bottles, swim diapers, normal diapers, sippy cups, sunscreen, floaties, pool toys and more. The kids were giddy with excitement about their pool time.

For the next twenty minutes I watched the moms prepare the young children for the pool. One at a time, each kid was sunscreened, given goggles and floaties, then plopped on a chair to wait for the next one to be finished. After each little person was ready, the moms would let out a sigh of relief before starting on the next one. By the time the group walked by my chair and into the pool, they were going to be able to enjoy ten minutes of swim time before the whistle was blown to signal adult swim.

I wondered to myself how I had survived that season of life. It was difficult to rattle me as a mom of four kids 6 and younger. I wanted to go up to the women and tell them ‘You are doing great! Keep it up. Your work and dedication matters. And I see you”.

The preschool years are demanding, no doubt. And yet, they were the best years. Now, however, Patrick and I frequently talk about our gratefulness for graduating from toddlers, and enjoying freedom from bottles, naps, pacifiers, strollers, baby food and diapers. We find ourselves in what I’m currently calling ‘The Sweet Spot’. We no longer have babies and we do not yet have teenagers or hormones. Are these the best years? I’m starting to realize every season encompasses the best years.

I like to lean on friends who are further into the parenting journey than us. These friends share wisdom, mistakes, and cheer me on as they look back, remembering the joys and struggles of each season. I suppose laying by the pool that day was my moment of realizing every season is the best one, and that each best season prepares our hearts and minds for the next. While each ‘sweet spot’ includes its own difficulties, there are also unique joys to be found.

This fall, I’m diving into ‘The Driving Years’. Three different school drop-offs and pickups, field hockey, swim team, ice hockey and two soccer teams. The best moments with my kids during these years might be enjoyed in the car. No matter what, I know the years of chauffeuring will prove to be just as important in raising our kids as the years I spent swaddling babies and wiping bottoms.

You can read more about the beginnings of our parenting years in my book Over My Shoulder, or by following my blog.