By TMoM Team Member Ellen Bryant Lloyd

I always look forward to the change of seasons, especially as summer fades and we welcome the arrival of fall — my favorite. It is exhilarating to watch bright hues replace the green on trees. I love having a front seat view of a particular tree in my neighborhood as it turns a brilliant shade of orange. There is something special about this tree that has captured my attention every one of the 20+ years I have lived there. I feel great joy as I watch the color emerge — color that bursts with vibrancy.

Every September I carefully watch for the first hint of color on this tree — I think I subconsciously made it my “marker” for the beginning of fall. After it presents, I make a point to look up at the tree each time I travel in and out of my neighborhood. I am unwavering in my desire to capture every part of the slow, but steady transformation of green foliage to a glowing orange. Somehow, I am always amazed when I realize the color has completely engulfed this tree —over time, yet seemingly all of a sudden.

I often think how this tree and the time it takes to change color each year is a metaphor for our children growing up. One day, they are counting on us to meet their every need. They run to us with open arms, share anything and everything, offer a constant stream of sweet hugs, show endless curiosity and are always close by. Then, we begin to notice small changes in their appearance, personality, choice of clothing, interactions with others and behaviors that demonstrate an increasing independence and maturity. Little by little, these changes continue until, one day, we realize our children have become adults. Theirs is a slow, but steady transformation— over time, yet seemingly all of a sudden.

For moms, this beautiful yet emotional moment lends itself to feelings of amazement, awe and wonder sprinkled with touches of nostalgia for sweet years that passed far too quickly. The years we devote to raising our children are precious. While there are hectic days and stressful moments along the way, the big picture perspective is that we only have18 fall seasons with our children before they are officially adults. Just 18.

As a mom on the other side of the 18 fall seasons, I know everyone who told me this time would go by in the blink of an eye was right. I do not share this to create anxiety, but rather to encourage all moms to fully embrace every day of every season with their children.

Enjoy every single moment, big and small. Hold tight to all of their hugs and give them every chance you get. Listen to every long, winding story they want to share, without interruption. Cheer as loud as you can for them at every sporting event, whether they are the star player or not. Hold their hand and never let go first. Talk to them in the car and not to your friends on the phone. Enthusiastically watch their favorite movie with them for the tenth time. Or hundredth time. Invite them to help make dinner, no matter how messy the kitchen may get. Let the matchbox cars stay lined up in the hallway for next day’s race. Be okay with the baby dolls taking over the sofa for a week because they are students in the classroom and your child is the teacher.

Laugh at all of their jokes and tell silly ones right back. Show up for them, whether it is for the entire game or recital or just the last five minutes. Seeing them play via FaceTime counts too. What matters is that they see you. Make crafts with glitter and paint and jewels. Create special traditions on holidays and special days like the first day and last day of school. Happily sign them up for classes or activities they have an interest in, even if you do not think they will excel in them. Encourage them to explore new things. Proudly display their artwork in prominent places. Sing silly songs with them. Make funny faces at them when they are being ornery. Wake them up early and take them outside to watch the sunrise with you. Leave notes in their lunchboxes. Have spontaneous “dates” to get ice cream before dinner.

Go for walks in the snow and catch snowflakes on your tongue. Dance in the rain. Dig for worms. Lay on the ground and watch the clouds. Or the stars. Catch fireflies. Pick your battles. Laundry can wait. Dishes can wait. Don’t sweat the small stuff. Children are little but for a brief time. Enjoy it all. One day you will look up, amazed and full of pride, joy and deep love, to see that their leaves have completely transformed into an incredibly breathtaking color — color that bursts with vibrancy. Embrace the privilege of having a front seat view as you take in every second of this slow, but steady… and magnificent transformation


Ellen Bryant Lloyd is a writer and mom of two children, one who has flown from the nest and the other is not far from it. She blogs about perspectives on life and parenting at and tweets at @EllenBLloyd. She is the author of FRECKLES and FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue, a freelance writer and memoir ghostwriter. Ellen lives in Greensboro with her husband, her daughter, when she is home from college, and the sweetest dog ever. She looks forward to seeing her son, who is now living and working in a nearby metropolitan city, as often as possible.


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