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Sweet Spot

What color shower caddy do you want?" I heard her ask from the next aisle over in Target. I should have been crossing off items on the back-to-school shopping list, but instead, I'd gotten distracted with choosing an area rug for Ella's newly made-over tween room. "I guess the gray one," I heard a younger voice reply.

Two minutes later the duo turned the corner into my aisle.

Their cart was already filled with all of the typical dorm-room necessities: twin sheets, plastic storage boxes, a white full length mirror, and some string lights. In my recent outings to Target- particularly during this back-to-school shopping season- I've noticed my attention shifting more to the moms and older daughters. I recognize so much more of myself in the middle-aged woman down the aisle who's dutifully checking off her daughter's college supply list. With a rising 5th grader, her reality seems much more tangible to me than ever before- and certainly more than the mom who just shuffled past me wrangling a very angry toddler. One is simply trying to make it to naptime. The other is trying to make it to move-in day. And me? A friend commented the other day that Jake and I are solidly in the "sweet spot" of parenting- not quite to the teenage years, but far enough out of the itty bitty stage when we felt every bit outnumbered on all levels.

She's absolutely right. Yet, every level of newfound parenting freedom feels a tiny bit disorienting to me. It struck me that I spend most of my time preparing for the waves- so much so that I don't fully recognize or appreciate the breathing space that comes in between.