My three younger daughters, strolling along at the zoo. And this time, not a single one asked me for a piggyback ride.
Hanging out at Woodland Park Zoo always brings back a flood of memories from our countless family zoo trips in days gone by. So when my daughters took me there on my birthday to enjoy the winter holiday light festival, my mind was a blur of fond recollections:
Arguments over who got to hold the map
Endlessly debates which animal to see next.
Melting ice cream cones.
Tipped-over umbrella strollers
And always, a few hot, overtired tears on the long march back to the car.
Oh of course, we had fun. There were always baby animals galore, fabulous places to play and explore, and good friends to share our adventures.
Peekaboo view from the path near the Komodo dragons.
Yes, we can go see them next. No, they will not eat you.
There was also once a multicolored mini-marshmallow party in the middle of the picnic meadow that will live in Streicher family history forever. Sugar-filled good times.
At least we didn't have to worry about putting on sunscreen.
But any parent who has ever marshaled a mitt-full of young 'uns through an exciting family destination knows what I'm saying. A day event like this is not for the feint of heart, and you are going to be so happy to lay your head down on the pillow at bedtime. Assuming you survive.
Another plus when taking older daughters to the zoo: plenty of time for moody portraits.
So as my fully-grown and socially-adapted daughters and I frolicked around our familiar stomping grounds, transformed as they were by darkness, cold, and giddy colorful lights, I held a full measure of respect and reverence for the younger parents in the crowd.
Any sentimental sadness I might have felt that my toddler-mama days are over was mitigated by the realization that my daughters will one day be herding their own little flocks, and I will undoubtedly be handed a crook.
In the meantime, color me glad to enjoy a few more years of peace and respite and diaper-bag-free living while still savoring the memories of those blurry childhood years.
I will press this shutter button one billion times, if that's what it takes to fool this camera
into taking a blurry photo. Instagram demands nothing less.
^ There were sweet little rainbow trees,
^ and big, bold color-blocked trees
^ and even fancy schmancy two-toned palm trees, just as if we were in the desert. Or maybe Vegas.
^ There were rows of smaller shrubs lined with undulating strings of jewel-tones lights,
^ and there were trees whose trunks were painstakingly entwined in countless twinkles.
But my favorite place of all was a small grove of tall, young trees, set off in a cozy corner of the garden near the parking lot. All of these lovely specimens were bedecked in coordinating strands of orange and yellow, and the effect was enchanting.
Predictably, my second-born and I whipped out our cameras and snapped off several dozen photos each, doing our best to blur and diffuse the lights in surprising ways.
Interestingly, my third- and fourth-born demonstrated their fascination by breaking into an spontaneous game of tag. As I shot these photos, the two of them ran wildly in and out among the trees, whooping and calling to beat the band, laughing until they had to stop from exhaustion.
It was just like old times, and we all loved our blurry, blurry night at the zoo.