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Picture Perfect

Heights change and children grow, but love holds on.

Last summer, we went beach hunting with the grandparents on the west coast of Vancouver Island. We were looking for a specific spot where we’d taken a photo when our eldest was almost four. For years the photograph has hung on our wall, a reminder of one beautiful corner of the world we love and a day now long ago. Back on the island in August, we wondered if it might be possible to recreate the photo and see the differences that time brings.

But which beach? Somewhere near Tofino, we remembered that. Long Beach came to mind. Oma remembered McKenzie or maybe it was Chesterman? The day was sunny and gorgeous, the perfect day to go exploring – except that the clear weather was completely quite different from the day we took the original photo, which made the landscape tricky to recognise. Add to that tide and time and shaky memories, and none of the beaches looked quite right.

The kids didn’t mind: they did cartwheels on the sand and took zany selfies galore. They made beach art with flotsam and jetsam: mermaids and monsters with driftwood claws. We had four kids with us that day – our three and a cousin, too – and three out of four were teenagers. Another difference.

Just Wait

Before our children arrived, my husband and I both worked in youth ministry and when we decided to start our family, we looked forward to the days when our own children would be teenagers. I remember other – older – parents smiling at this comment and telling us to wait. We’d understand later. Maybe I do now.

Because there are times when I miss my children’s littleness. Their rubber boots and one-piece raincoats. Pockets full of sticks, hair full of sand, their hands in mine, then pulling away and running with the sheer joy of a chase. Then the long walk home again and their small weight on my hip, shoulders tired from carrying everything. All the rhymes and lullabies, the pockets full of snacks, and the stories we told each other. Those were full days. We never quite slept enough or got to the bottom of the laundry, and sometimes things were very hard. It all went by quickly and yes, I miss it.

Better?

But I’m also delighted to be here at last in their teenage years. It is so much easier to talk things through now. We can debate and argue and find good ways to make peace again. We can share responsibilities. They are changing and growing, and so am I, and we’re all at a stage where we can talk about that. Everything is still going by quickly, but we’re anticipating changes together and the kids are starting to make their own faith-led, long-range plans.

I can’t say they’re better with age any more than I can say I am, but I do I feel blessed to watch them grow at close hand.

Our day on the beach ended with another photo, more or less like the first, so maybe we found the right spot or maybe we just decided we did. Heights change and children grow, but love holds on, and the world is still vast and unfolding before us.

Author

  • Katie Munnik

    Katie is an Ottawa writer living in Cardiff with her spouse and three growing children. You can also find Katie on Twitter @messy_table.

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