I remember when, as a young mother, older women would repeatedly say, “Enjoy every moment…it goes so fast.” And inside, I would think, “Really? Because it seems like years since I had a full night’s sleep.” Not that I wasn’t enjoying every minute…but I sure was tired. Sometimes the days seemed long, when I was home all alone with three little ones needing every ounce of my attention and nurturing. Sometimes the nights seemed even longer. I never wished away the moments, although I did occasionally think “Okay, I am REALLY done with potty training now!” Sometimes the weeks seemed long, when my husband traveled on business and I tackled the parenting alone. Sometimes the seasons seemed long, when we entered a difficult phase with one of the children. But then something would happen to give me pause, like a baby learning to walk, a child losing his first tooth, or a kindergartener heading off to school, looking so grownup with their carefully chosen backpack on their back. And I’d think, “No, wait! It’s all going too fast!” And as each year passed, and my babies got older, it seemed that the calendar pages just started to fly. Soon we went from having one in school, to having three in homeschool. Overnight, it seemed, we went from being young parents with small children, to (gasp!) middle-aged parents with teenagers.
And today, we enter a new phase…that of parents to an adult. Eighteen years ago today, our precious firstborn entered the world and we became parents. I remember taking her home from the hospital and my husband and I looking at each other in disbelief that we were really solely responsible for this tiny little creature. Oh, and it couldn’t possibly be eighteen years ago…it was just yesterday, wasn’t it? It was just yesterday that we prayed desperate prayers that God would give us a child. It was just yesterday that she finally joined our family, the answer to a thousand prayers. It was just yesterday that she sang her way through our house, one minute being Cinderella and the next Snow White. It was just yesterday that she headed off to school and broke my heart when she came home with the oft-repeated phrase, “But, Mommy, Mrs. S. does it THIS way.” It was just yesterday when we pulled her out of school to continue educating her at home and we battled for a year before she became content with homeschooling. It had to be just yesterday when she fervently pledged her life to Christ and was baptized in our Jacuzzi tub. I’m certain that it was just yesterday when she started to grow into this lovely young woman who took my breath away when she danced. It was just yesterday when I saw her all decked out in a Civil War ball gown, with her hair in a beautiful updo and her makeup so perfect, heading off to the ball on her daddy’s arm. It was just yesterday that we began planning her future, with college choices and scholarship applications and late night talks about life and love. And now, here she stands, a beautiful young woman with a passionate heart and a determined outlook, ready to take those first steps into her adulthood. And I think my heart will overflow.
And now I know that those little old ladies were wise beyond measure…time really does fly and there is nothing we can do to slow it down. Those endless nights of rocking and feeding that tiny little baby will soon turn into late nights of waiting for your teenager to come home from work, and praying for her safety on the snow-covered streets. Those days of thinking you’ll never have an adult conversation again will soon turn into late night gabfests with your almost adult child. The carefree years of thinking they will always eat at your table, or be with you on vacation, or celebrate Christmas around your tree will all too soon be days of waving goodbye as she drives off to work, or watching proudly as he dons his cap and gown, or wiping away a tear as she walks down that aisle dressed in white to begin her life with another. You know what? The little old ladies were right.
So, as I celebrate my sweet girl today, I will be listening a little more closely, taking a little more time to just talk, and remembering each precious moment. And even as I grieve the “lasts”, I will be rejoicing in the satisfaction of watching a little girl grow into a woman who loves her family and her Lord and is ready to take those tentative first steps into the rest of her life. God be with you, my precious Molly. We are so proud of the lovely young lady you have become. You are a treasure and a gift, and your daddy and I will love you forever.