For Every Inevitable ‘Last’ in Motherhood, There Will Be a Hope-filled ‘First’

After 24 years of mothering, today marks a monumental last for me with the final “first day of school” coming to pass as our daughter begins her senior year in college. Not that I’m counting, but this is #58 when you combine pre-school, k-12, and college for all three kids. These pics are from our celebration as a family this past weekend.

And so it goes, over two decades filled with school stuff now come and going, going, soon to be gone. But alas, my heart is full of joy, not sorrow. Which will make many of my BFFs roll their eyeballs and scoff, “Yeah right. You’re bawling like the baby you are.” Really guys, I’m not!

The reason I’m minus the melancholy is that I’ve come to understand that for every inevitable last, there comes a hope-filled first. Our last kid finishing up a lifetime of school is one of those beautiful moments. Not just the money perk either when we can finally say, “and so it went, and now it shall return.”

The last first day of school is the first day towards a life of complete independence for your child. The moment you think out loud, “hey, I actually did figure out how to parent a kid from diapers to diplomas!” It’s a mind-blowing milestone because you swear you had no idea what you were doing through most of the journey.

Now you begin to really see the fruit of your labor which calls for getting drunk on gratitude Thank you, Jesus. Also, thank you for turning my water into wine tonight because miracles never cease.

Mommas, regardless of where any of us are on our mothering timeline, the key is basking in the knowledge that, God-willing, the inescapable lasts will eventually settle into sanguine firsts. Of course, we all have many and varied journeys in which certain lasts never became firsts to begin with. Each mother has a unique list of transitional moments. But, from my experience, here’s a short list of destined progressions full of promise for us to press deep into our mom heart:

For every last intimate nursing or bottle-fed experience, comes the wonder of your child nourishing herself

For every last first birthday, comes the opportunity to look forward to the second birthday and so on

For every last time you airplane food into your toddler’s mouth, comes the tender appreciation of seeing him patiently use a spoon

For every last time you cut up grapes, comes the relief of a mouthful of teeth that know how to chew

For every last diaper change, comes the joy of watching your child beam with pride over using the potty like a big girl

For every last ride in a stroller, comes the mushiness of walking side-by-side, hand-in-hand

Shelby Spear
Shelby Spear
Shelby is a sappy soul whisperer, sarcasm aficionado, and pro-LOVE, Jesus adoring mom of 3 Millennials writing stuff & doing life with her hubby of 25 years. You can read her stories on her blog at, around the web, and in print at Guideposts. Shelby's new book, co-authored with Lisa Leshaw, is now available: How Are You Feeling, Momma? (You don't need to say, "I'm fine.")

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