I carried my bags across the parking lot filled with dirty cars in need of a bath. The little one to my left held her big, strong daddy’s hand as she screamed and wailed. The dad smiled that knowing grin and said “I know baby girl; it’s gonna be OK”. All over a squeaky, brown horse awakened by a gold coin. And now walking across the parking lot, she let the whole world know her disappointment in the horse that stopped too soon. I smiled as I watched the loving dad as he led her to the next thing. And my heart yearned for those days long gone of disappointed babes who cried over a special grocery store ride ended far too soon or the Skittles left on the candy shelf. And in the fog of memories I realized how many of those moments of baby years and toddler tantrums I have forgotten. I promised that young me over and over again that I would never forget. That the memories would never fade. But as one memory replaces another, I still carry a piece of every stage. I may not remember what decorations were hung for the second birthday party or what character backpack was slung over scared shoulders on the walk up to the big doors of kindergarten. I may have forgotten the first lost tooth and the struggles of potty training. I may not recall the first touchdown catch or the first volleyball to skim over the top of the net. Yet I still carry many memories so precious to my soul they barely escape in words without the warm tears wetting my cheeks. I remember much yet I remember so little. How does one recall every moment of four little lives? My mind yearns to never forget while the details slip into the fog of yesterday. There is joy in the recalling of time. There is laughter over which child remembers what. There is surprise when a story is told and the mind recalls the moment as if it happened just yesterday. While some moments are gone, loveremains which spans the hours and weeks and years. There is comfort in knowing they were loved well, comforted often and celebrated big. There is satisfaction in believing the best job was done. Long gone are the days of watching the clock and praying bedtime comes soon when fatigue and feelings of being the worst mom ever ruled my mind. And now the clock moves too slowly as I wait for them to open the door and leave shoes to stumble over. When I wait for details of the day and the sharing of hearts. And yet the clock ticks faster with every passing moment. As they grow and need me less for the daily tasks, I know they need me in changing ways. Mostly they just need me to be present. Sometimes it is in the baking of warm cookies or the washing of clothes. Maybe it is just the comfort of seeing me sit on the couch or hearing the voices as Travis and I quietly talk in our room. The needing has changed, but the love has remained. My mind tells me my job is to grow them to let them go. But my heart fights the knowing and longs for more days of dependence and messy faces and playing action figures and dress up. The roles change and the bodies get bigger and more independent, but the relationships are the constant. Needing the dad and the mom is the one gift time cannot steal. Time may add more days to the past, but it cannot remove the ties that make us family. Time cannot take away the laughter and moments of togetherness around the table. Time can march on, but it cannot remove the bond of family. As the memories change from cute chubby cheeks to stunning beauty and from the little sticky hand reaching for a treat to the strong manly hand opening the stubborn jar, the same blood runs through the growing soul. The days of laughter and cluttered rooms and friends and stinky shoes lead us closer to a quiet home without the noise and sleepy teenagers. Yet the memories, the ones that remain, those are the treasures that will never fade. And one day I know, I just simply know I will look back and remember the beauty of growing children. The overwhelming love, the joy of parenting, the cherishing of moments. Those are the memories that will never fade away. No matter the age, no matter the distance, my children will always be just that – mine.