So God Made a Mother Collection ➔

Black Mary Janes. Light-up Skechers. Hot pink Nikes. Bright white Keds. Pastel pink tennis shoes. 

I probably can’t even remember what I just walked into the other room for, but I can recount shoes and backpacks from the past six years of  elementary school. Despite how my mom-brain needs a good dumping (maybe then I could remember what I walked into the other room for), the truth is, I’m rather grateful for these seemingly useless bits of information from our 11-year-old’s school experience.

From the Barbie backpack in kindergarten to the emoji backpack in second grade, from the pastel pink backpack in fourth grade to every grade in between, the truth is that these memories remind me of the journey our oldest child is on, growing at warp speed.

Those black saddle shoes from kindergarten weren’t just purchased because I wanted to make sure I was following the school dress code to a T, but also, because, at that age, she couldn’t tie her shoes. Velcro strap Mary Janes to the rescue! 

Those light-up Skechers that Olivia saved up some of her own money for? She adored them in first grade since she’d learned to tie her shoes over Christmas break that kindergarten year. If you ask her, she’ll tell you she doesn’t tie her shoes “the normal way” which is probably true. Weeks of blood and sweat on my part and years on hers led me down the rabbit hole of YouTube videos and an easier way to tie shoes than your traditional bunny ears. I thought my heart might burst watching her tie her shoes those first couple of years! When I wasn’t stressed out about how long they were taking her to tie and get out the door in. 

The emoji backpack, with the matching pencils and erasers, was the by-product of pop culture her second-grade year. Poop emojis led to fits of little girl giggles. Any bathroom joke now posed by her younger sister, is not the source of a giggle, so much as it is an exasperated sigh of embarrassment. 

If you would have told me four years ago that I’d be missing my little girl’s ability to giggle uncontrollably, regardless of who’s listening, I probably wouldn’t have believed you. “She has years of being a little girl ahead of her,” I thought to myself back then.

Except, somewhere in between emoji backpacks and pastel everything came a lot of growing up

I know we’ve all gritted our teeth and bitten our tongues when yet another person peppered us with the advice to enjoy it all, “because they grow up so quickly,” but, as the hard, busy days of parenthood with babies and toddlers pass, giving way to the sometimes even busier days of school-aged children, I look back on those words of advice and nod my head in understanding.

My little girl, who once had to have me walk her into school each morning, proudly flashing those Mary Janes to her newfound friends, now rushes off to her classroom looking more and more like a young woman every day. If I’m lucky, she’ll kiss me on the forehead as she sprints off. Ironically, that’s just how she let me kiss her when she was headed to class as a younger child. Weep.

The little girl who once used to start each day at the crack of dawn excitedly asking for help in getting dressed for the day, help even in picking out her socks and hair bows. Hair bows! I never thought I’d say I miss her hair bows, but, well, I do. Sigh. 

No need for help. No bows. And firm in her self-knowledge of what’s cool and what’s not (this mom who once thought she knew what’s “in” is suddenly learning I’m way behind the curve these days), she picks out of her own items for her school uniform, wears her hair exactly the same way each day, parted down the middle with ridiculously amazing natural beach waves that I’m jealous of, and it’s a far cry from the crack of dawn. I love this girl, but her overly sunny, early morning disposition as a young girl has been replaced by tween hormones that have me dragging her out of bed. Who would have thought? Honestly, I didn’t.

This isn’t supposed to be happening already!

Maybe I came into this whole parenthood thing more naive than I thought, but as I watch her bound out the door this year with her all-black backpack and her red converse (picked out by her, of course, but I would honestly have loved to wear myself), I know that the days may be long, but the years are most certainly short

As you start the school year with the endless list of character-themed, color-coordinated items that your kiddo just can’t live without and you want to pull your hair out at the thought of looking just one.more.place for it, know that the days of their loud, stubborn insistence on these things, their excitement over the backpacks and crayons, will come to an end. Probably sooner than you could imagine.

As you’re racing out the door on that first day of school, struggling to pull everyone together before the tardy bell rings and your son or daughter needs help tying their shoe, take a deep breath, because it’s stressful, but take heart in knowing that before you know it, not only will they not need your help, but a part of you will wish they did. 

The start of the school year brings with it such an overwhelming mix of emotions—not just for our children, but for us, as parents. New experiences, new friends, new accomplishments and growth. And yes, new backpacks, school supplies, clothes and shoes. 

Our wallets may cry out this time of year, but I can tell you that my mama heart cries out more than my wallet. 

I’m overjoyed at who my children are growing up to be. I love watching them learn and accomplish great things. I love their burgeoning independence!

But we’ve once in awhile, I miss Mary Janes. And Barbie backpacks. And getting to plant kisses on a cheek that don’t then get countered with an embarrassed look. 

Good news for me, though, my youngest heads to Kindergarten next year. Maybe I’ll get my second chance with those Mary Janes. And most importantly, appreciating every moment, knowing how quickly it will all change. 

You may also like:

Dear Teenagers, Be Patient While I Let Go

The Nights Are So Long

Melissa Ohden

Melissa Ohden is a well-known Christian and Pro-Life Speaker. She is the author of the award-winning book, You Carried Me: A Daughter’s Memoir. Melissa is a frequent guest on radio programs such as Focus on the Family, the BBC, and the Mike Huckabee show. Melissa’s a frequent contributor to sites including The Mighty, LifeNews, and Fox News. Melissa, her husband Ryan, and daughters Olivia and Ava reside in Kansas City, Missouri.

Mothering One Day at a Time

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother holding daughter in matching shirts, color photo

As I sat with my growing belly, full of anticipation for the arrival of my firstborn, the possibilities were endless for this little girl. Maybe she would lean toward the arts and be a dancer, writer, or musician. Or maybe she would take after her great-granddad and become a scientist. And maybe one day she would be a mother too. Dreaming about the future was fun and exciting. But then she surprised us with an at-birth Down syndrome diagnosis. Special needs were never included in my dreaming sessions.    All of the sudden, my hopes and dreams for this new...

Keep Reading

Fall into the Arms of Jesus, Little One

In: Faith, Kids, Motherhood
Child walking

I have three younger brothers, so I know how crazy and wild boys can be. Lots of falls, cuts, scrapes, bruises, broken bones, and even a couple of head stitches. My husband has two younger brothers. He’d always tell how they used to jump from the banister down two floors onto the glass coffee table. Why anyone would do that, I have no idea. Pure madness and chaos.  Right now, I have a little baby boy who’s only seven months, but I know he will probably be just as wild as his uncles and dad. But that doesn’t mean I’m...

Keep Reading

I Know It’s Just Summer Camp but I Miss You Already

In: Kids, Motherhood, Tween
Kids by campfire

You would’ve thought I was sending you off to college. The way I triple-checked to make sure you had everything you needed and reminded you about the little things like brushing your teeth and drinking plenty of water about a thousand times. You would’ve thought I was sending you to live on your own. The way I hugged you tight and had to fight back some tears. The way you paused before leaving just to smile at me. The way I kept thinking about that boyish grin all the way home. The way I kept thinking about how you’re looking...

Keep Reading

I Want My Boys To Become Men of Character

In: Kids, Motherhood
Young boys with arms around each other by water

I’m a single mama of two young boys. As a woman raising young boys, I’ve thought a lot about how I want them to act—as kids and adults. We joke around that I’m not raising farm animals, and we don’t live in a frat house. I’m trying to plant seeds now so they grow into men with positive character traits. They burp, fart, spray toothpaste on the sink and somehow miss the toilet often, but I’m trying to teach them life lessons about what it means to be great men and gentlemen.  Interactions with other men provide opportunities for us...

Keep Reading

Until There Was a Boy

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother looking at son and smiling, color photo

I never believed in love at first sight . . . until there was a boy.  A boy who made my heart whole the first time he looked at me.  A boy who held my hand and touched my soul at the same time.  A boy who challenged me and helped me grow. A boy who showed me that, even on the worst days, the world is still a beautiful place.  RELATED: I Met a Boy and He Changed Everything A boy who reminded me how to laugh until tears ran down my cheeks. A boy who tested my patience...

Keep Reading

A Mother’s Heart Remembers These Sweet Moments Forever

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and baby laughing

Motherhood gives you all the feelings. It’s hard not to be utterly thankful for and grieve the little things of your last baby, trying to take in all of the firsts and lasts. Every bin of clothes and baby gear packed up produces a tiny crack in a mother’s heart, breaking just a little bit more each time she says goodbye. It’s not that she needs those baby clothes, but it’s the memories each outfit held that are difficult for her to let go of. She does not want to forget those beautiful moments. When she looks at that bin...

Keep Reading

I Want You To Miss Your Childhood One Day Too

In: Kids, Living
Kids jumping off dock into lake

What I miss the most about childhood is owning my whole heart. Before I gave pieces of it away to others who weren’t always careful with it. And some, who never gave the pieces back. I miss my knowing. My absolute faith that my mother’s arms could fix just about everything and what her arms couldn’t, her cookies could. When my biggest grievance was not getting my way. I miss feeling whole, unblemished. Before words cut me. Before people had taken up space in my mind, created permanent movies that were ugly and still play on repeat at times. Before...

Keep Reading

No One Told Me It Was the Last Time You’d Be This Little

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mother and young son playing in ocean

No one told me it would be the last time I rocked you to sleep. A cry in the night, the haze of a dimly lit room, our rocking chair worn brown. We were the only ones in a little world. No one told me it would be the last time I carried you on my hip. The way my body shifted—you changed my center of gravity. Your little arm hooked in mine, a gentle sway I never noticed I was doing. No one told me it would be the last time I pushed you on the bucket swing. Your...

Keep Reading

The Only Way to Freeze Time Is to Take the Picture—So I’ll Take as Many as I Can

In: Kids, Motherhood
Two kids sitting in wagon, color photo

Life ebbs and flows. Seasons come and go. One of the reasons I take so many photos is because they are the only way to make time stand still. They provide a nostalgia that can’t compete with anything else. They help us remember the exact moment captured and show us how fast time is fleeting. It doesn’t matter if their texture is glossy or matte. It doesn’t matter if they are in a frame or on a screen. It doesn’t matter if they are professional or if someone’s thumbprint is in the upper corner. All that matters is the moment...

Keep Reading

Did I Shelter You Too Much?

In: Kids, Motherhood
Mom and tween daughter

I’ve made so many mistakes as your mother. From moving too much to letting you stay up too late, I know I should’ve done better. But of all the mistakes I’ve made, not letting you make your own was my biggest. It’s the one I regret the most. I only wanted your happiness. Keeping you safe and happy were my most important jobs.  At least I thought so at the time.   If you forgot your homework, I’d drive it in. If you were too tired for school, I let you stay home. If you didn’t want to speak, I spoke...

Keep Reading

5 Secrets to the

BEST Summer Ever!

FREE EMAIL BONUS

Creating simple summer memories

with your kids that will  last a lifetime