Our oldest son is turning 16. (Yikes!)

As we celebrate this milestone birthday, I’m pretty sure I can sum up all of his wishes in one word: freedom. While he looks ahead, I pause and look back.

Wasn’t he just that little newborn with the fussy stomach, turning this young woman into a new mom? He reaches for my hand as we walk through the park, collecting leaves, rocks and sticks—because little boys love to do that. He wears a big black backpack to kindergarten and I show up early to pick him up, just so I can watch him fly on the swings. The safety patrol vest he wears in 5th grade means middle school is coming, and where in the world did those elementary years go? One day I notice his voice sounds different; he turns up his music and starts eating way more food than ever before. That football uniform fits him like a glove, and when did the legs of a man show up on my son? Someone calls and tells me I need to be at a high school parent meeting. High school? My husband takes my hand and I feel like a new mom all over again. This time my stomach feels a little fussy, and I wonder if my son’s does, too.

His sense of humor reminds me my boy is still there, hidden inside this young man I’m blessed to call my son. He’s glad to be a sophomore now, and drives us everywhere we need to go. At 16 he won’t need me in that passenger seat. The beat of his drum in the marching band signals that time stops for no one. I need to be here, in this moment with him, before today turns into a memory I will one day pause and look back at.

We all marvel at how time flies. The summer’s going too fast. School starts earlier every year. Christmas will be here before we know it. So many things seem like they happened yesterday, when in reality we lived those moments out years ago. Why is that? Why is time such a hard thing for us to wrap our minds around? I believe it’s because God set eternity in our hearts when He created us. We’ve been made for much more than this. No wonder 16 years with my son feel like a blip on a screen. In relation to eternity, 16 years happen in the blink of an eye. That brings me a measure of peace, to think about our lives set in the timeline of eternity. My heart resonates with that truth.

And yet, as a mom, letting him go is hard. It’s just plain hard. We raise our kids to leave us, and yes, that is the way it should be. I’m learning this from moms who have gone before me, and hopefully I can encourage moms behind me, too. Our kids grow up a little bit every day. Mercifully, it doesn’t happen all at once. That child you’re sending to kindergarten will be 16 one day, but not today. My son will leave home for college one day, but not today.

He’s turning 16, and I’m not turning back. Let’s celebrate this moment! Fear and uncertainty have no place here, for eternity awaits.

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Sarah Luke

Born and raised in Chicagoland, Sarah now calls Nebraska home. She’s been married for 19 years to Derek, her college sweetheart. They have three sons—one in high school, one in middle school, and one in elementary school. She worked as a registered nurse before staying at home full time with the boys. Maybe someday she will go back to nursing, but for now she loves keeping up with her family and enjoying the moments set before her. Swimming and reading are her favorite hobbies, along with boating and camping. She’s quick to point out that she camps in a camper, and leaves the tent camping to Derek and their boys!

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