Our boys stand tall and straight against their bedroom wall—just to make sure we don’t miss a single centimeter as the pencil tickles their hairlines and measures another year of growth.

Each progressive mark on the wall indicates a stage of my boys’ lives, all of which I have tried to grab ahold of as they fly by. From babies to toddlers and beyond, my writing material ranges from streaking through the kitchen with a diaper on his head to facing his elementary school bully.

And now, in the next school year, my oldest will move up to middle school and my youngest will hurdle yet another grade level. It all just feels like a dash to the finish line of a race I never signed up for.

It is strange to think their babyhood is now a distant memory. Closing my eyes I can feel his sweet breath on my shoulder long after he fell asleep during our nightly rocking. Now when my youngest sits on my lap at eight-years-old (a football player), my lower half goes numb, yet I keep him there long after I can’t feel my legs.

Because time is winning this race—all I can do is savor each moment. And there have been some great ones.

There was Connor’s talk-about-himself-in-third-person stage, when he stood up in his crib after his naps and yelled, “Mom! Connor freaking out!”

And when Logan and I danced around the bathroom belting out our special little song, “We’re Gonna Potty Like It’s 1999!” Then he finally joined the potty party a year later (which felt like 10).

Or his first day of kindergarten when he acted like such a big boy that I pretended not to see his tears (and he pretended not to see mine).

The same tears now threaten to cloud my vision as I realize how fast it’s all gone by.

Milestones whiz by and sweet baby talk has morphed into intelligible language—except when it’s about Minecraft. Minute piled atop minute and somewhere in that discombobulation of time is what my kids will remember as their childhood.

I remind myself that it’s not over yet. I need to quit pining for yesterday and concentrate on today. 

That is why I have decided to join forces with time. I’ve waved the white flag in a fight I was destined to lose anyway, and we have come to a truce.

Really, though, I am not so sure I have lost anything at all. I have gained more than I could ever imagine through these 11 years (so far) of parenting.

I have gained perspective. I thought parenting was kind of a by-the-book process, and now I know parents are just people doing the best with what they have been given.

I have gained empathy. Where a screaming toddler flops, there my heart will be. Be it the aisles of Walmart or the restaurant I went to for quiet time, I will always have an unspoken bond with that mom. I know the look in the eyes of a mommy who is ready to give up, and I know she never will.

I have gained faith. Real love is messy and it is beautiful, and God constantly reminds me of that through parenting. From changing explosive diapers, laundering angry socks, to shushing him in the checkout aisle when he points at the guy in front of us.

“Mom! That guy just farted!”

God shines through my kids in a way He never has before—with an unbreakable love and a good sense of humor. 

Embrace the good times, learn from the bad times, and hold your nose and just get through it when you must. 

Another thing I have gained—which is not to be forgotten—is another chapter to be grateful for. As we move up another notch on the growth wall, the oldest is almost as tall as me, and I look him straight in the eye.

“You’ll always be my baby.”

Meg Duncan

Meg Duncan is a Christian author and columnist. Her writing takes readers to recognizable places and assures them they aren’t alone. From raising children, navigating marriage, sorting laundry piles, and avoiding carbs (or blissfully embracing them, depending on the day), she combats self-doubt with humor and grace.