When I was drowning in new motherhood with three children four and under, a fellow mom shared a secret with me. Her kids were a bit older and she was a bit more seasoned as a mom. She told me that every age and stage had its challenges and triumphs, its ups and downs, but eventually life would get easier.
She praised five-year-olds for their budding independence and ability to carry on conversations. She lauded seven-year-olds for their willingness to help around the house.
Then she paused a moment.
“Do you want to know which age is the real MVP?”
I nodded, eyes with wonder.
She said ten was this mysterious and wonderful age where kids could take care of themselves and others. They could do real and valuable work around the house. They could clean up after themselves. They were also good-natured and would make life so much easier.
I stared back at her, mouth agape.
“But that’s six years from now,” I finally stammered.
“I know, it’s hard. It is. There will be more hard moments between now and then. But I promise if you hold on tight, you will thoroughly enjoy ten.”
Mamas, I finally have one of those mythical creatures in my home and I can tell you with absolute certainty that my friend was right on the money.
Ten is the magic number.
Ten is hilarious and fun to talk to.
Ten is willing to snuggle and cuddle and give great big bear hugs.
Ten is brave and adventurous and often fearless.
Ten is actually helpful around the house.
Ten is picking up after himself and others without being asked.
Ten is responsible and capable and strong.
Ten is learning from mistakes and trying again.
Ten is imaginative and curious and incredibly smart.
Ten is able to figure things out on his own.
Ten is game for trying new things.
Ten is laid back and easy going.
Ten is spending hours playing video games and also playing in the backyard with neighborhood friends.
Ten is entertaining himself and his siblings.
Ten is able to form his own opinions and express them yet still impressionable and eager to please.
Ten is loyal and loving.
Ten is innocent and wild and free.
Ten is on the cusp of change.
Ten is growing more independent with each new day.
Ten is the in between.
Ten is the sweet spot.
Ten is magical.
So, mamas, rock your babies. Kiss those boo boos. Calm those tantrums. Wipe the faces and the bottoms. Clean the spilled milk and sweep up the crumbs.
Do your best to savor the season you are in- hard and messy and unglamorous as it may be.
Try hard not to wish the time away because it really does go by in the blink of an eye.
But don’t fret about the future. Don’t fear your baby growing bigger.
As much as you love those big eyes and chubby cheeks and that adorable little giggle and sweet baby voice, I promise you’ll love the bigger kid he will become.
Five-year-olds are awesome.
Seven-year-olds are amazing.
But you know what age is the real MVP?