After experiencing six years of infertility and now pregnant with our first child, the coming fall weather has me more excited than ever. Of course I'm looking forward to our first Christmas with our daughter, but there is something about the traditions that come with the cooler weather after summer is over. As the years of our marriage went by without a baby, I realized that this is the time of year that drew the most heartache. Now that I'm preparing for our daughter to come at the end of the year, I already find myself planning new family traditions for when she is here with us next fall.
1. Carving pumpkins My husband and I have been together for 11 years and I would say we've probably spent five of those actually carving pumpkins around Halloween. We would sometimes buy a little kit and attempt artistry, or we would stick to the usual triangles and boxy ghoulish smile. But let's face it, pumpkin carving with two infertile adults is akin to going to the science museum and participating in all the activities that the little kids are doing, only you don't have kids, so you have to pretend you're enjoying them yourself.
2. Going to the apple orchard We have an orchard about 45 minutes away that I've been going to with my family since I was a child. Now my husband and I have made it a tradition to continue to visit it every year. There's a hayride that brings you to a pumpkin patch, yard games for the little kids to play with, wooden cutouts of various scarecrows to stick your head through for photo shoots and inside the big red barn, you can watch the workers picking apples off the assembly line. For the last six years, it's been a bittersweet outing because we were missing our own children to experience all that with. This year I will attend the festivities in the midst of my third trimester. I can't wait for next year, knowing there will finally be a baby to bring. It doesn't even matter that she will be too young to care.
I can't wait to play in the leaves with my own daughter. Because it's in these moments that remind you what it's like to be a kid yourself again.
3. Raking leaves
More specifically, raking leaves into a pile, and then taking 25 pictures of our little girl squealing as she sinks down into the middle. I remember how much fun this was as a child and I can't wait to play in the leaves with my own daughter. Because it's in these moments that remind you what it's like to be a kid yourself again.
4. Roasting marshmallows over a bonfire
It will be a few years before our daughter can really participate in this, but I'm looking forward to next fall, her on my lap wrapped in a blanket while we all sit as a family around the fire. Last year, my husband and I attended a party where the hosts had a small fire and were passing out marshmallows to all the little kids. We were the only couple there without children of our own and I remember smiling through the lump in my throat as I squatted there will all the kids, watching as their parents would help hold the sticks, and wipe sticky mouths.
5. Hiking up north
Here in Minnesota, all events and vacations are located "up north." We go "up to the cabin," "up to the North Shore," or maybe just simply, "up north," and everyone knows what you mean. Northern Minnesota, specifically the North Shore of Lake Superior is stunning, but the changing of the leaves in the fall lends to its own vivid beauty. My husband and I have always enjoyed hiking the state parks and were recently on vacation on Lake Superior. Our hiking was dramatically different this year with me being 28 weeks pregnant, but we still were able to enjoy some of it and take a lot of pictures. "Just think," I smiled to my husband as we trekked along the rock next to the water, "Next year we'll have a nine-month-old strapped to your back and I'll actually be able to hike more than 10 minutes without having to pee!"
Maybe in my naive childlessness, we're crazy to want to bring a baby on vacation, staying in a log cabin and hiking the waterfalls with her on our backs. But it's something we've waited so long for and I can't wait to try it out.
What fall activities do you enjoy doing with your own kids?