We celebrated my husband’s birthday last Saturday night. Sitting across from my girls at the restaurant, I was struck with how grown up they are. They are thirteen. In five years, they will graduate from high school. Five years! I have five more years and a summer before they leave for college.
Exactly five years ago today they were eight, finishing second grade, and making their first communion. I remember that day like it was yesterday. Dressed in white dresses and headpieces with veils they were so young and so sweet. I felt like I had all the time in the world to mother them. I was wrong.
Parenting is both all consuming and fleeting. Those early years feel endless. You think you have forever with your babies. You think that you have a lifetime to guide and teach them. And then suddenly your babies are teens. And then grown.
As I looked at my girls tonight I could not help thinking about the stages of their lives. The years of my intensive mothering influence is brief. Eighteen years. I have five years and one summer left to teach them everything that I think is important, to take them on trips and show them the world, to build their confidence, to encourage their passions, to prepare them for life. I’m sorry, but that’s not enough time.
I was forty-two when my girls were born. Assuming I live a very long life, they will still live many years without me. And yet it is my job to make sure that I give them the complete foundation that they need to be happy and live successful lives.
My dad died when I was forty-one and my mother when I was forty-four. God willing, I will live more time without them than I did with them. I hope the same for my daughters. That means I have to pack a lot of life lessons into a relatively short period of time. I better get moving! You should, too. This parenting thing – it’s surprisingly fleeting.