When you first have children, we often talk about the challenges of parenting, the struggles of a baby waking in the night, the toddler who won’t stay in their bed, the cost of childcare, injuries from sports…
Having to take off work to pick them up from school when they don’t feel well, helping them with homework, a messy house, the never-ending laundry, the cost to buy school clothes, packing their lunches….
You watch their eyes light up on Christmas morning and try to soak in the magic of those moments.
You coach them in sports, rushing to practices and ballgames, and tote them all over the country to let them play the game they love, no matter how exhausting or expensive it becomes.
Life is just so busy that you rarely even stop to think what the end of those days look like.
In fact, it’s not really even something you can wrap your mind around.
You go into it thinking that 18-20 years sounds like a long time.
Then suddenly hours turn into days, days into months, and months into years.
That little person who used to crawl up next to you in bed and cuddle up to watch cartoons suddenly becomes this young adult who hugs you in the hallway as they come and go.
And the chaos and laughter that used to echo throughout your home gets filled with silence and solitude.
You’ve learned how to parent a child who needs you to care for and protect them, but have no clue how the whole ‘letting go’ thing is supposed to work.
So you hold on as tight as you can, wondering how time passed so quickly, feeling guilty that you missed something.
Because even though you had 20 years, it just somehow doesn’t seem like it was enough.
You ask yourself so many questions.
Did you teach them the right lessons?
Did you read them enough books as a child?
Spend enough time playing with them?
How many school parties did you have to miss?
Do they really know how much you love them?
What could I have done better as a parent?
When it’s time for them to go, it all hits you like a ton of bricks.
And all you can do is pray, hope, and trust that God will protect them as they start to make their way into the world alone.
Parenting is by far the most amazing experience of your life, that at times leaves you exhilarated while others leave you heartbroken.
But one thing is certain: it’s never enough time.
So for all the parents with young children whose days are spent trying to figure out how to make it through the madness, exhausted day in and day out…
Soak. It. All. In.
Because one day all those crazy days full of cartoons, snuggles, sleep overs, Christmas morning magic, ball games, practices, and late night dinners…
All come to an end.
And you’re left hoping that you did enough right, so that when they spread their wings….
This piece originally appeared on Facebook, published with permission.