The town of Chagrin Falls is aptly named because in the heart of the town there is a natural and beautiful falls of the Chagrin River. One of our favorite activities is heading to the village, getting ice cream and watching the falls. It can look so different at varying points throughout the year.
That same river travels throughout our little area and is fed by small streams and springs. Back when Madeline was in preschool, we started doing creek walks on hot summer days, usually with our friends Olivia and her mom, Laura. We’d be able to stay outside all afternoon and still be in the shade with our feet (and lots more) getting wet in the cool river water. When we first started the trips, I’d spend more time holding hands, navigating a safe, shallow passage, or helping them around some obstacle than exploring. We’d maybe travel a half mile or a mile and the girls would be ready to turn around.
Years go by. Kids get older and braver and more steady on their feet (both literally and figuratively).
Yesterday, we did our normal creek walk and it was Laura and I who looked like we might slip and fall. Our girls were up ahead, blazing a path of their own, jumping into pools that were the major obstacle back when they first walked this creek. They were the ones finding crawfish, splashing in the waterfalls, looking for interesting things to explore.
About a quarter-mile down the river, it was Laura and I that were ready to turn back. Not because we were done with creek walking – we just realized that the girls have graduated up from walking the shallow spring fed creek to walking the actual Chagrin River. One quick van ride later and we were splashing into waters that all of us were challenged and excited by. Waterfalls that they could slide down cascaded around us. Giant pools of water that were big enough for me to swim in enticed the girls to jump – which they did and nearly gave me a heart attack.
Laura and I talked about those old days of hand holding and todderhood while we walked. Those were nice days, we agreed. But seeing those toddlers blossom before us into the young girls that they now has been fun, too. And days like yesterday – when those changes are so plain to see – are a gift that I treasure.
And when Zoe took an especially hard slide down a waterfall into a rock, I was ready to take her hand and hold it as we walked back to the van. Some Mom jobs I’m happy to still have no matter what their age.