Yesterday at the gym I ran into an old coworker from the ER and as we caught up on each other’s lives, we started talking about kids. She has a cute little boy who is 18 months old and smiled as she said “he is so naughty!” I smiled back remembering those years when the kids started to understand their independence and ability to make choices. We laughed about her son reaching out to touch something he was told not to and at the same time looking back at his mom to see her reaction. I remember those days vividly. Sometimes the constant watching and hovering was mentally wearing but those days slipped away so quickly. I know there are thousands of memories I was certain I would never forget that are now gone from my thoughts. But the days I do remember, those moments of frustration mixed in with the treasured days of beauty and heart warming interactions, are forever embedded in my heart. Because as the kids have grown, as their voices change, their stature gets taller and taller, their independence increases, the moments continue to occur when I realize just how big they are getting. With all the graduations happening around us as another school year comes to a close, I am keenly aware my days are numbered before my kids leave the security and love of our home to make their own way, venture out to find their own path. On one hand it’s so very sad to realize my babies will not all be living under my roof with me, but I also see the opportunities and blessings to come for them as they make their own way in the world. They will continue their education, take trips, fall in love, marry and have children of their own. My kids will always need me; it just changes from one season to the next. I have to focus on that so I don’t allow the tears to fall hot and fresh on my cheeks. As a mom, I don’t ever want my kids to stop needing me. And I realize they won’t. I still need my parents and in laws. I still run to my dad for advice or reassurance. I seek his input and guidance. I still find comfort sitting on my in laws couch talking about everything that keeps us busy and moving. And if my mom were still here, she would definitely be my closest ally in this parenting adventure. Time simply doesn’t stand still and I am learning to enjoy the beauty of each season. I can’t go back and redo the past, I can’t get the babies who fed from my breast again, I can’t take them for their first day of kindergarten or calm their fears the night before they started junior high. But I get to be present today. I get to love on them, engage them in conversation, share their hurts and tears, experience high school for the first time, talk about asking a girl out, stress over finals and big projects. I can help with friend issues and talk though the difficult questions of faith, situations in the media and choices others around them make. I get to watch my kids grow up, trusting the Lord to meet them in every step. Because every season of this parenting journey has its struggles and joys and I am certain that will never change no matter how old they get. The beauty is to find the good, experience whatever each day brings and always remember to thank God for every moment we get. Because some day my children may not wake up in their childhood bed, but they will always know the love of their parents. They will always be assured of our commitment to be here every day. They will always have an open door and loving arms to run into whenever they choose to come home. Because this home will always be their home no matter how old they are. For today, I’ll cherish the backpack thrown on the family room floor, the shoes kicked off in the entry way, the dishes left on the counter, the toothpaste dried to the side of the bathroom sink, the clothes covering the bedroom floor and the jacket hanging on the back of the kitchen chair. They are beautiful reminders that today is to be cherished. I have kids to love on, laugh with and enjoy. The tomorrows will come, but today is what really matters.