Giving myself permission to just be Mom seems like a no-brainer, but it’s just not that easy. I’m already thinking about my lasts of motherhood with all my kids now in school. Time is going too quickly for me and I can’t keep up with my own life.

I went on a school field trip to the apple orchard this fall with my youngest child and I had so much fun. We loved the time together. He and I both enjoyed learning about apples and the workings of an apple orchard. I watched as he ran around the playground with his peers laughing and jumping. I was present to witness him being a child. He was free and concerned with nothing but the joy of the moment. He fully felt the excitement for the next moment when he climbed up to the top of the slide. He yelled down to me and he was waving at me through the worn wooden slats at the top. He smiled and jumped down the slide and came shooting out fast like the slide couldn’t contain his energy.

My tears teased me and one even slipped out as I realized that since he is my youngest child, this would be my last apple orchard field trip as a chaperone.

It was a mom epiphany for me. I realized I want to live in my moments as mom just as he fully lives in his moments as a kid.

As a parent chaperone, I rode that bus back to school with all the first graders. I watched my son cajole and tickle friends. The bus was a giant social party for them because they didn’t have to do anything else but sit and talk or laugh. I again felt a bittersweet twinge on that loud bus. This orchard field trip bus ride was a last for me in my motherhood because the older grades don’t take field trips to the orchard.

I am having lots of motherhood lasts as I feel my mothering of young kids slipping away. I already miss it. As my kids are getting older I see my motherhood getting older too. I miss each stage as my youngest passes through it and I realize how fast this motherhood job is going. I realize I won’t have them much longer. I need to give myself permission to just be Mom and live in the moment as much as I can.

My oldest has only a handful of school years left before he’s off to college. I feel like he was just born.

I am amazed to be in this place in my motherhood already. How could time be going so fast? Why am I always too busy to slow down to fully enjoy it? I always have way too much to do. I’m always overwhelmed by my to-do list.

Standards are too high. We must have a clean organized nice smelling home. We must make healthy homemade meals and snacks, not processed. We must take our kids to sporting practices and games and music lessons. We must wash those sports uniforms. We must have time for household laundry and cleaning. Make time for faith and church. Make time for work. For shopping. For homework helping. We must make time for our spouses. For extended family. For our friends. For exercise. For social time with neighbors and friends. For time with pets. For outside time. For time to sleep. For time to do social events for our kids like play dates and birthday parties and sleepovers. For time to read a book and stay caught up on social media with friends and family. For fun seasonal activities. For volunteering. Time for ourselves, which often falls last on the list for parents.

I’m dizzy with that list. I’m drowning in that list. These days I feel like I’m scrambling. Like I live my life in a constant state of anxiety and panic always needing to get something done and always failing to accomplish it all. I felt this way the day I brought my first baby boy home and somehow I thought that feeling would go away or get better as the kids grew up, but it’s not going away. It’s not better. In fact it’s even busier now that they are older because we have more activities, more homework, more social activities, more meals, more snacks, more eating, more shopping, more kids to parent. It’s not slowing down, it’s going faster and faster and I’m running to catch up with my life.

I know as crazy insane busy as I am right now, I wouldn’t give it up because I love mom life. It might be crazy but it’s mine while I have it. It’s mine while my kids are under 18. I get to own it. I get to let it consume me while I have the chance to be a mom to my kids while they are still living at home.

But when is it OK to say no I’m not helping someone? When is it OK to say I’m too busy mothering my own kids to take on more?

This is an issue I wrestle with because I like to help others. I like to volunteer. But I’m taking a stand. I’m giving myself permission to just be Mom. I get to say no to new obligations. I get to be selective in them. I’m giving myself that right even though I feel torn about helping out in so many other places. I will still help where I can but I’m cutting back and I’m saying no to some old obligations and no to adding new ones. Now is my time to dwell in my own moments as mom because I’m realizing mom moments are fleeting.

This is my mom life right now and I’m taking it. I’m giving myself permission to just be mom.

Julie Hoag

Julie Hoag is a freelance writer and blogger, wife, and mom to three busy boys, & fur mama to two rescue dogs and two guinea pigs. She writes on her blog about motherhood, kids, family, recipes, DIY, travel, and faith. She is a vegetarian who loves to cook and create recipes when she’s not driving her three boys all over town to sports practices in her crumb-filled minivan. In her past life she has worked as a Scientist and Medical Data Manager, a pediatric nurse, and a SAHM. She loves to volunteer in her kids’ schools and help fundraise money for their schools. She is a Christian who loves nature, animals, traveling, gardening, swimming in her pool, and simply spending time with her family. Her favorites are dark chocolate, red wine, and cheese with yummy bread.