It is happening. It is here; we are in it. We are walking beside our children as they live their childhoods — letting go a little more each day. It is not slowing down for anyone. There is no pause; we can’t pump the brakes. This ride moves on whether we like it or not. I am reminding myself, and I am reminding you, to not get caught up in simply riding along, allowing ourselves to miss out on so much of what there is to see.
Sometimes it is the smallest things just outside the window that matter most.
Motherhood, parenthood, life, often has us looking ahead to what is next. We are eagerly celebrating each and every first. We are aware and elated; we are conscious of the bittersweet beginnings that come with each milestone. The first baby, check. Kindergarten drop-off, done. The first day of middle school, success.
But where is the mention of the lasts? All of those new beginnings, all of those nexts — they are only possible when something comes to an end. Even as I intentionally try to watch my seasons change, I miss so many of these last moments while I am caught up in the planning and preparation for what is to come.
We all wake up some days trying to recognize when our seasons changed, when our worlds shifted. The beauty of motherhood, the beauty of life, is that even in the hard times we know there are seasons. After every winter we are promised a spring. Following the heat of summer, we find our fall. That is also what holds the heartache. Seasons never stop changing.
As a kid, we are always excited for the next big thing. We were always eager to grow up just a little more. We had not yet realized that it is within the quiet, simple moments, the here and now that you are actually living out your life.
As an adult, you have probably come to realize that there are far more little things than there are big things, and that is what matters most. But as mothers, we spend so much time looking ahead and planning for what comes next, that we overlook many lasts. We can be quick to forget that in every new beginning, there is an ending or two to be seen. It is all too easy to overlook the insignificant days that end up being the most meaningful.
When is the last time you will have a child crawl into your bed?
When will be your last trip to a playground?
Where will you be the last time that you carry your baby into a store?
Or the last time you have a special adventure while the big kids are at school?
We do not realize that these big moments pass in an instant, all before you have the chance to grieve the closing of a chapter.
I do not know why I am writing this. I do not know why I want this to be shared with you. Maybe it is this tree that I am sitting beneath, that I once climbed more than 20 years ago. Maybe it is the thought of all the places that the military and I have called home since that moment, or the memories that I made here. Maybe it is the back-to-school time of year. Or maybe it is the vast shift of my own life seasons this year.
But all I know is that I want you to experience what is happening right in front of your eyes. This is your life that you are living. This is your children’s childhood that is happening. Even if you don’t look up and if you don’t breathe deep, the seasons will change and we can’t go back to see what we missed.
Dear Momma, someday you will be just mom.
Someday you will be looking back, wondering when it all happened. I want you to make sure that you look out that window and that you feel these moments, make those memories . . . never forgetting that firsts are fun and exciting, but lasts, those are moments that will never come around again.
This is life. It is happening. It is here; we are in it.
About the Author
Chelsea Enders is a 31-year-old military spouse with girls ages 5, 8, and 11. Her family has called many houses home and seen their fair share of difficult deployments, but this life has also given them experiences that you can’t get anywhere else. Right now Chelsea is a full-time student, but when she heads back to work, you will find her in an elementary classroom. As a parent, she hopes to give her three girls a life of adventures and opportunities. She strives to open their minds, fill their hearts, and help them take in the wonderful world around them. As a friend, Chelsea knows that we are all parenting on different paths, but we are all in this together.