By Guest Blogger Stacy Leighton

Shhhh…Do you hear that? It’s the sound of every parent of school age children everywhere breathing a sigh of relief. Their children are safely aboard that blessed yellow school bus and on their way to school. I imagine them slowly walking back to their homes. Blurry eyed, a little wrung out, but oddly triumphant. That is, until they open the door and gaze upon the wreckage the children have left in their wake….

Moms and Dads, those of us who have gone before you, we feel your pain, and we salute you! One of ours is in college, and one has now graduated from college. Still, it seems like yesterday to me. I understand how truly hard, and also rewarding, it is to parent. It is the most important and amazing thing we will ever do.

I know, some of you just rolled your eyes. That’s okay. I get that, too. When my children were small, I heard it all. It was usually while I was sleep-deprived and covered in my child’s sticky mess (of unknown origins). I’m pretty sure I rolled my eyes, too. Have you heard, “Don’t Blink or you’ll miss it”? I remember thinking, “Well, that’s just silly. One way or another they are always with me! Even in the bathroom. How could I miss anything?!” or “Don’t blink? I’m lucky if I get any shut-eye at all!” But as exhausting as it is, I hope we can try not to wish it away too quickly. Because now I realize childhood goes by in the blink of an eye.

The day I delivered my baby to college, I heard someone say, “In parenting, the days are long, but the years are short.” This swam around in my mind all the way home. Of all the pearls I’ve heard, THIS made the most sense to me. I don’t remember getting older, but I must have, because just look how the kids have grown! I remember countless baseball games, dance recitals, proms and life lessons along the way. After a while, it all becomes a blur. Life runs away with you when you have kids. It’s like being stuck in fast forward. Ever feel like you’re just trying to keep up? If only there was a “pause” button on life’s remote control!

And then, all of a sudden, as if by magic, someone hits “stop.” You look around and see the children are grown. At first, it’s a bit shocking; then, it’s marvelous! You see that these grown people are just as delightful as they were when they were little, but oh, so much easier!!! Our times together are still full of laughter and hugs, but now they can cook, they can do dishes and they can even buy their own clothes! I’m proud of our independent and resourceful children. Occasionally they still need me, too, although I suspect it’s a ruse meant to make me feel good. It does.

So, no, I’m not here to gloat, I will not moralize or lament. I will, however, promise you that there is life on the other side. This next chapter is going to be great. One day soon you will sit with your sweetheart (remember him or her?), sip a chilled beverage and listen to the silence. You will enjoy memories of laughter, tears, sleepless nights, all- night science projects, pre-teen angst and honest wonder (usually ours). And when you do, remember to give yourself a pat on the back. Because not only did you MAKE amazing people—you will have lived to tell the tale!

*This article was reprinted with permission from Forsyth Family magazine