When I became a mom, I heard about all the “firsts” of parenting.
But, not many people discussed the “lasts” of parenting.
And right now? I’m walking through the “lasts” of parenting as two of my kids are in college and working full-time, one just graduated and is working full-time, and the other three are officially ALL teenagers.
And the lasts of parenting is actually what my heart and mind thought and prayed about since my oldest was only 5 years old.
I’m absolutely convinced that focusing on the lasts makes a bigger impact on your entire family that simply focusing on all the “firsts.”
If you’re a mom who still has a tiny baby in her arms that you get to swaddle and soak in all those amazing baby smells — then do exactly that.
Breathe in those moments.
Don’t rush through the diaper changes, the feeding sessions, or the bedtime routines.
Slow down and enjoy.
Because, in your future, there are many “lasts” awaiting you.
When I had toddlers, babies, and preschoolers constantly pulling on me and stepping on my toes, I had to make a focused effort to stop.
Stop worrying about the laundry…
Stop worrying about my business’s success…
Stop chatting with friends…
And listen to the funny dream my child had the night before.
To go on a bike ride or on a walk in a nearby park.
To say “yes” to ice cream and forts.
And to give my kids my complete, undivided attention.
Because somewhere deep inside me I knew these moments were fleeting.
I know those precious tender years of my kids will never come back, and now it’s only moving forward, at an ever-so-hastening pace.
- The “last” nursing session is over for me now.
- The “last” diaper has been changed.
- The “last” unending game of peek-a-boo is buried and gone.
- The “last” one word, terribly pronounced sentences are a thing of the past.
- The “last” wobbly, chubby toddler legs have disappeared.
- The “last” time watching my baby try new foods is over.
- The “last” of baby powder scents have left my home.
- The “last” Baby Einstein video has been watched.
- The “last” first birthday cake has been eaten.
- The “last” sounds of gurgly cooing are now hushed and silent.
- The “last” making homemade play dough together is over
- The “last” teaching my kids how to ride a bike is over
- The “last” swimming lesson is over
- “The “last” hiding money under my child’s pillow for their lost tooth is over
And there are many more “lasts” happening in the next few months — and much more in the next few years.
My oldest son is 21 years old now.
When I look at him now, all I see is a young man.
His shoulders are broader and he can finally beat me in arm-wrestling.
His shoes are bigger than mine.
He drives me to the grocery store.
He’s planning on future job goals and saving up money for his future family.
And yet, I know there are MORE lasts in the future
- The “last” family slumber party on Friday nights.
- The “last” sounds of kids playing tag outside.
- The “last” command of “don’t open that refrigerator” being replaced by complete silence.
- The “last” of super-busy cleaning days traded in for calm, quiet and orderly…but almost too quiet days.
- The “last” of shopping in the toy section for my child’s birthday present.
- The “last” of a small child running to me with tears when he falls down and is hurt.
- The “last” of stocking up on stain remover for all the messy days of childhood.
- The “last” of giggling over Dr. Seuss books.
- The “last” of dreaming of superheros.
- The “last” of PB and J sandwiches and grape Kool-aid.
- The “last” of sounding out simple words — ever so slowly.
Sometimes all those “lasts” don’t seem so wonderful when they’re happening in the present.
But now that I have some “lasts” in my life, I have learned that I sincerely miss the cry of a tiny infant who just wanted to be close to his mother.
But, it’s hard to think about that when you’re still cradling that infant and losing your sleep at night, isn’t it?
But maybe, just maybe, we can start taking a few minutes every single day to think about the “lasts” that await us.
Not to bring us sorrow, but to remind us that we only get to raise our children once.
There is no rewinding the years and re-writing the script so that we were sweet, more involved moms.
We have to choose to be that way now.
When our child spills kool-aid on our new tablecloth…
When we hear the breaking glass and know something has been broken…
When we see the “interesting” haircut our child just gave himself…
When we’re scraping play dough off the floor…
Those are the times when we get irritated and long for the days of quiet, clean and calm.
But, those are the moments we should choose to remember that our motherhood journey is full of not only “firsts”, but also of many “lasts.”
Dear mom, have you experienced any “lasts” in your parenting journey?
What were the most difficult ones for you?
But, I don’t want to end this article on a sad, sobering note…
I also want to share the JOYS of new seasons.
As my teenagers and young adults have entered new seasons of their lives, there are NEW “firsts” that help balance out the sadness of the lasts.
There’s the “first” of seeing my daughter get “associate of the year” at her work. There’s the “first” of seeing her receive every scholarship she applied for at an out-of-state, private college.
There’s the first of seeing my adult children help manage our household when I had emergency surgery.
There’s the first of seeing my two oldest buy their first cars.
There’s the first of seeing my teenagers and adult kids buy their own clothes, go on trips together, and make new friends.
It’s exciting to sit back, pray, and listen to their exciting stories of work drama, college life, and opportunities to minister to others.
I’ll never regret pondering on the “lasts” of parenting when my children were toothless babies and messy toddlers.
Those moments were incredibly precious…but so are these.
Through every season of motherhood we have something to look forward to, something to learn from, and someone to love.
May we enjoy this wonderful gift of motherhood as we learn to guide our babies, toddlers, preschoolers, kids, teens, and young adults.
Until we breathe our last breath on earth, our job is never truly done. <3