I was watching my kids play in the snow last week. I watched their red cheeks, stretched tight with cold and laughter. The snow balls flew through the air, and their bodies pressed angel-shaped into the snow-covered grass. Confetti clouds of white were tossed against the bright, blue sky. Shrieks of bubbly laughter surrounded them like a thick blanket.

And then the question creeped into my mind, ever so softly.

When exactly did I grow up?

I don't remember it happening. I just know that it has.

No matter how hard I try, I can't seem to pinpoint the moment that dipping my face into the snow sounded less like an adventure and more like torture. When did I decide that a snowball in the face is not the least bit funny? When did it grow so cold out that I chose to watch instead of play?

I think it happened so gradually that I hardly noticed it.

There was a time that I was the one with frostbitten fingers, tossing snowballs at my brothers' knitted caps. I was the one who donned moon boots and a striped coat, and stayed outside for hours -- returning to the house only for lunch or a quick cup of cocoa. I was once the one who made snow angels and tossed confetti clouds of white against the sky.

My days now are filled with schedules, carpools, laundry, and dishes. I have bills that I pay. I have a car that I maintain, and a house that I own. I have worries, stored up in a tired mind, that always seem to unleash themselves the minute my head hits the pillow.

I am the one who locks up the house at night, and climbs into bed in the dark. Nobody checks my closet for monsters or tucks me in with a kiss.

I am now the grown up.

Every once in a while, I miss the little girl who liked to have that kind of fun. But mostly, I sit content with myself now. Watching over my little snow babies from the warmth and security of a soft chair by the window. Looking up from my book now and then to laugh with them. Hurrying to ready a warm cup of cocoa when I hear their boots stomping in the garage.

Because the little girl I once was? She never knew what it felt like to warm the hands of her babies, listen to their laughter, and find that she loves them so much it hurts.

If she had, I'm afraid she might have been in a much bigger hurry to grow up.