Children are a heritage from the Lord; they are a reward from Him. Psalm 127:3
Over the years I have read countless books to my kids at bedtime. Some are silly and fun to read and others carry a special message about how much I love them. A few of my favorites are Love You Forever Like You for Always, Guess How Much I Love You, and I’d Be Your Princess. But the one I love the most is by a Christian author named Karen Kingsbury called, Let Me Hold You Longer.
In this particular book the author talks about how we cherish all of those ‘first’ moments with our children but fail to recognize all of the ‘lasts’. For instance, every mother has a picture of her child’s first day of kindergarten, first birthday, first time they ride their bike, first school dance…you get the idea. But what about those ‘last’ moments?
Karen recalls many of the special ‘last’ times we seem to miss as parents. Like the last time her son woke up crying in the night needing to be held, the last time he told her he would marry her someday, his last little league baseball game, or the last time he needed help with his homework. She takes you right through to the day he leaves for college. While I love this book, it usually reduces me to tears.
Given I have a seventeen year old and a soon-to-be twelve year old, I have experienced many ‘last’ moments over the years and completely missed them! However, this week I am keenly aware I have reached another ‘last’ with Avery.
Wednesday night marked the fourth night in a row that she has gone to sleep by herself. Walking up to me and her dad, she has simply announced that she was going to bed, kissed me on the cheek and quietly headed upstairs. When I asked her why she didn’t want me to put her to bed, she held up six fingers, indicating that she was going into the sixth grade soon and didn’t need me to snuggle with her anymore.
There was a time when I would have welcomed that freedom. So many times over the years I have been busy trying to finish one more load of laundry, clean the last few dinner dishes or even chat with a friend on the phone. In my busyness I sometimes wished I didn’t have to stop. However, now that I have arrived at this moment, I am experiencing a tremendous amount of sadness.
I knew it was coming since I had already gone through this time with my son many years ago. While I don’t remember the ‘last’ night I snuggled with him, I feel certain this ‘last’ will be etched in my memory for quite some time. My little princess is growing up right before my very eyes.
Lord, help me to slow down and cherish each and every moment, ‘first’ and ‘last’, with these precious gifts you have entrusted to me.