I love babies. Seriously, I’m what you might call a “baby person.” I love nothing more than the feel of a newborn on my chest, their tiny body cozy in footed pajamas. I always knew I would be a mom and I always knew I wanted a bunch of kids. What I didn’t realize is that a time would come when that desire would completely end. Don’t get me wrong—I’m still the first to volunteer to hold someone’s baby. I’ll rock him to sleep, change her diaper, sing “Open Shut Them” a thousand times. But I have no desire to have that in my own house. And here’s why.

1. My Kids Can Wash Their Own Hair 

Yes, bathtime is adorable. Rubber Ducks, bubbles, Barbies. But after 11 years of bathing children, I nearly threw a party the first time my daughter insisted on taking a shower and washing her own hair. The fact that all three of them can be sent upstairs—(after arguing that they really don’t need to take a shower because they took one three days ago) to bathe and get ready for bed while I finish my second glass of wine (oops!) and stalk Mormon families on Instagram—has seriously changed my life.

2. We Can Leave Our Kids Home Alone

There was a time when schlepping one kid to soccer meant dragging all three. Or running out to the grocery store for milk meant strapping everyone into their booster seats. Having a twelve-year-old in the house is like having an au pair—only better because I don’t have a stranger living in my house. Running errands or sneaking out to an adults-only happy hour hasn’t been this easy since pre-kid life. And they love that they get to hang out with the dog and watch TV and play Fortnite on the Xbox. Everybody wins!

3. The Kids Can Leave Us Home Alone

The flip side is that our kids can now venture off without us. One of the benefits to living in town is that they can walk to the local candy store– even though, ironically, the owners don’t like when kids walk in. Or they can ride their bikes with their friends to the playground. They feel independent and free, despite the fact that they’re only a few blocks away. And we can send them to pick up dinner or something from the CVS. Again, everybody wins!

4. Traveling Is So Much Easier

We were never the family who stayed home because we had kids. Our oldest was on a plane at 10 weeks. Our kids are phenomenal travelers, which is good because I have a serious problem where I’m either on a trip, planning a trip or researching destinations to travel to before I’m 50. But there was a time when the things we had to bring actually outnumbered us. Suitcases, carry-on backpacks, strollers, car seats. Insane. The first time we went to Disney without a stroller, my husband and I practically skipped down Main Street.

This summer we have three vacations where we are only flying with carry-ons. No checked luggage. All five of us. I’m almost more excited about that than the actual trips. When we share a hotel room, my husband and I used to sit in the bathroom with our wine and magazines until the kids would fall asleep. Now we say goodnight to them and head down to the hotel bar. A date night on a family vacation? Yes, please.

5. I Have Rediscovered My Marriage

My husband and I have an amazing marriage. Through the sleepless nights of newbornhood, the absurd tantrums of toddlerhood, the stress of homework and school projects and the beginnings of hormonal adolescence, we’re a good team. But that doesn’t mean that we haven’t had times when that “spark” wasn’t there or weeks where we felt like we barely had the chance to have a conversation. But over the past year (and after turning 40), I’ve felt a shift. Our kids’ independence has allowed us to reconnect.

We find ourselves talking about an interesting story we read while the kids are out riding their bikes. Or we’ll take the dog out for a walk while they’re home watching a movie. This shift isn’t one I thought we necessarily needed, but at the same time, it’s one I’m grateful for. It’s nice to remember that you really like that guy across the room who is scraping burnt eggs off a pan.

So while I get teary-eyed when I watch an old home movie, or when a Facebook memory pops up and reminds me of how delicious my kids were when they were tiny, I’m ready for this next phase. I like that my kids are actual people who have their own interests and things going on. I like that we can discuss current events as a family and that my husband and I feel like a couple again. As for the smell of a newborn, or those ridiculous baby clothes I sometimes find myself looking through at Nordstrom Rack? That’s what grandkids are for… eventually!

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