Moving all of your belongings to another location - especially if it's three hours away - is never an easy task. One must pack everything ever so carefully in bubble wrap or newspaper and then tediously label each box with the appropriate contents.
Then of course you, and possibly several family members, will need to make several trips to this new destination, unpack all of the belongings and marvel at what has been accomplished in such a short amount of time.
The thought alone fatigues me, somewhat.
When my sisters and I were little, we moved quite a bit. We lived in Maryland for a while, and then it was off to New Jersey for a few years. Finally, we moved up to Pennsylvania in a house on South Main Street when I was 5 years old so I would be able to attend kindergarten at Seventh Ward Elementary.
We moved just one more time after that to a house of our own, and I can honestly say I really don't remember much about the moving process, but what I do remember is the wonderful cardboard boxes that were always left over after we unpacked all of our belongings.
The best boxes were the large empty ones. These boxes were usually the ones that were leftover after my parents purchased new appliances - say a washer or a dryer. When you are 5 years old, these boxes seem enormous compared to the dinky little ones that you find in the supermarket.
To my sisters and I, these boxes were our castles, a place of seclusion from our everyday lives. My mom would cut holes, doors and windows into the cardboard using a "special steak knife," and then drape sheets over the top for an added dramatic effect.
My sister is moving to Pittsburgh next week, and the number of boxes she has brought home for packing has made our living room look like a miniature shantytown. Even though most of her belongings are already at her new place, there are still some cardboard boxes lingering around.
Temptation struck - for my mother anyway.
My mom removed the tape from the one end of a box, opened it up and laid it in the middle of the dining room floor. She then motioned me to get my daughter, Emma, and see if she would crawl through.
"She's not going to crawl through it," I said to her.
Yet I sat Emma in front of the cardboard box and as if on cue, she crawled right through it. Halfway through, she turned around with a big grin on her face to see if I was going to join her. Instantly, I was drawn back to my days when I played in my cardboard castles as a little kid.
One of the best things about being a parent is being able to watch your child grow. When Emma was first born, she was just an 8-pound 6-ounce being that could barely open her eyes and wrap her tiny little hands around my index finger. Now, Emma is a happy 9-month-old baby, crawling around all over the place and in and out of boxes.
I now look forward to the day when she is walking and talking, and asking me to build a cardboard castle complete with doors and windows, and maybe sheets draped over the top. I might just have to make one big enough for both of us.
Sentinel reporter Tara Maguire welcomes parenting advice and stories at firstname.lastname@example.org.