Dear Mom going through a new stage of life,

I know we’re told not to be sad. We hear it from so many mothers, the ones who’ve been there before us; our grandmothers and mothers and sisters and friends. They tell us, “Do not be sad. Your kids can’t be little forever. Each stage keeps getting better. You’ll see.”

 And we believe them. Of course we do, what choice do we have? Our babies will grow and we want that. We’ve known since the moment these tiny beings were placed in our arms that someday in the future (that I’m certain speeds up once you have children) we’ll have to let them go. And each new stage, I believe, is practice for the day we let them fly. 

But until then, I think it’s OK to be sad, just a little. Not for long, of course. But just enough time to pause and reflect and say goodbye to one stage and welcome a new. 

My baby turns 5 in one short week. And suddenly I find myself in a new stage. And it’s fun to watch my soon to be 5-year-old and her big sister grow and learn and discover a world full of so much glory and love. They are independent and smart and sleep in on Saturday mornings. They can brush their own teeth and the potty training days are a distant past. I can talk to them; really talk to them, about friendship and love and faith and family. They’re learning to read and write and do all the things I loved at that age.

7 and 5 year-old-girls are pretty wonderful. Here’s the thing though, that I bet you already know. Babies are sweet, too, with their squishy little faces and smooth skin. And toddlers are special and rambunctious and give the best hugs. Those first five years are such a blur. The first five years our babies need us. Really need us; to protect them, and bathe them, and feed them and clothe them and care for their every move. 

And it’s tough, but somehow between the midnight feedings and preschool signups, we learn how to do it. We become experts in our craft. We grow as they grow, and we’re certain through even the toughest moments, we’re pretty great moms.

But now, I don’t know. Now I’m in a new stage. I’m saying goodbye to the baby years. I’m starting it all over again. School and friends and bullies and boys, all of it is approaching very quickly. And it’s terrifying and beautiful. 

And I think moms; I think we’ll have to do this a lot. That’s what the experts tell me. And maybe I cry because I know there are so many new goodbyes yet to be. Or maybe I cry because I know that no matter how much we soak in the newborn smells and tiny kisses, that no matter how much we love every precious moment of the first five years, it still doesn’t slow time. And someday our babies will fly.

This is for you, mom – the mom going through that next stage. Whether your babies are turning 5 or 55, I want to tell you that it’s OK to be sad. Because goodbyes, no matter how expected and beautiful and needed, are still goodbye. 

And that makes me cry, just a little.

Leslie Means

Leslie is the founder and owner of Her View From She is also a former news anchor, published children’s book author, weekly columnist, and has several published short stories as well. She is married to a very patient man. Together they have three fantastic kids.  When she’s not sharing too much personal information online and in the newspaper – you’ll find Leslie somewhere in Nebraska hanging out with family and friends. There’s also a 75% chance at any given time, you’ll spot her in the aisles at Target.