We sat watching the line of kids—and our daughters’ chubby little fingers—“play” the piano. My friend smiled affectionately at the group and said something that I still think about today, more than a decade later: 

“This is THEIR time.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

She explained that life was now about them.

Holidays were now about creating magic for them. 

Hanging out with friends now revolves around setting up playdates for them.

Everything we do is for them.

She then went on a tangent about how much she was looking forward to watching her kids run around on Christmas Eve with their cousins like she did as a kid.

This short conversation, which my dear friend may not even recall, has stuck with me. The statement, always in the back of my mind, has helped me through some challenging parenting moments.

“This is THEIR time.”

I’ve thought about it on long days filled with toddler meltdowns—the kids’ first, mine later after they’ve gone to bed—the phrase in the back of my head, helping me hold on to my patience as I walk them through their emotions.

I’ve thought about as I popped on shoes to head to the supermarket at eleven o’clock because I’ve forgotten Saint Nicholas is visiting that very evening. The statement in the back of my mind, giving me the energy to do one more task after a long day.

I’ve thought about it as I sit in the car waiting for my daughter to finish varsity tennis practice at the high school—the phrase reminding me that being a chauffeur for the kids IS an important job.

“This is THEIR time.”

Then yesterday, something made me pause.

There it was in my daughter’s Instagram feed, a photo of a teen friend laying in a hospital bed cuddling with her mom.

She started the long post with: At 3:50 my beautiful mother was out of pain and got to be with God.

I was confused. The woman in the bed looked nothing like the energetic mom I’d chatted with when dropping my daughter off for playdates at their home.

I looked at the photo again and there she was—her kind eyes and smile. Her expression felt out of context without her long wavy hair, but her kindness still radiated when you looked deeper.

The weight on my chest felt heavier and heavier as I immediately thought about her daughter.

How is she doing this week as she heads into her first few weeks of high school without the support of her mom? 

This is how a mom’s mind works, right? Kids always come first because . . . 

“This is THEIR time.”

My heart and thoughts continue to go out to her kids and her partner, as they walk through the immense grief.

She was 44 when she passed.

Forty-four is too young for a mother to die.

It is said, You will never look back on life and think, “I spent too much time with my kids.”

As I scrolled through her Instagram feed looking at the family photos, I felt the ultimate truth of that statement.

I paused on a picture of her and her daughter arm-in-arm, the smile on her face as she held her daughter close, it was obvious she already knew . . . 

“This is OUR time.”

Oh, the impact of adjusting a single word.

It is so easy to lose ourselves in motherhood.

A gentle reminder as you go on with your day . . . 

We are the only ones who can give our kids a happy mother who loves life.

Stop doing things for them, instead find joy today living life fully with them.

This is our time, too.

Originally published on the author’s blog