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My son got a haircut today, and when he got up from the stylist’s chair I almost cried. The stylist had cut his curl.

This is ridiculous, I know. My son is 14.

This obviously wasn’t his first haircut. It wasn’t even a haircut to mark a special occasion. It was just a normal appointment on an ordinary Wednesday. And yet there I sat, swallowing tears as that boy who once fit on my lap walked toward me without that curl reminiscent of his younger years.

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In 14 years of motherhood, I’ve come to expect waves of nostalgia, those moments where you get glimpses of the baby they once were and the young adult they are quickly becoming. I expect them when I scroll my photo feed or when we celebrate a milestone. I anticipate them when we revisit the same vacation spot each year, and I get a tangible image of how much the children have grown. 

But today was different. 

Today was unexpected. 

Today was simply because of that curl.

I suspect there will be many more moments like this in the future, in these four years between now and 18. I might as well get used to the unprovoked tears, but I doubt if I ever will. Because how does a mother get used to the reality of waning time? How does she hold with an open hand the memory of the tenderness of those early years and the swelling emotions of growing a child and watching him fly?

I don’t know. Clearly, I don’t have the answers. I’m fumbling through this along with all of youthis tension of mourning the little years while looking forward with hope-filled anticipation to what lies ahead. I think you understand this. You know the gentle ache of watching the years fall away.

You feel this tension . . . the longing to hold onto them fully knowing you must let them go. 

What I do know is that sometime in the not-too-distant future, that child will walk toward me, grown and flown, and in the fullness of the man God created him to be.

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And in those days, my heart will swell with gratitude at the person he has become. In those days, I will marvel at the broken-beautiful motherhood journey that gets us there, a journey of grounding and giving wings, of holding tight and letting go. 

That day is coming. I get previews of it sometimes, and there is the promise of so much goodness in it.

But today . . . today is not that day.

Today my 14-year-old got a haircut, and she cut his curl, and I almost cried.

Originally published on the author’s blog

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Shalene Roberts

Shalene Roberts is a grace-clinger, wife, mother to five, writer, blogger and the owner of Lily & Loom Vintage Rugs. Prior to her induction into motherhood, she was a national magazine editor. A storyteller and beauty seeker, she writes with authenticity about faith, family, and motherhood. Her popular post, “When Mothering is Hard and No One Sees” boasts more than half-a-million views and has been shared around the globe. Her work has been seen in a variety of publications, including TODAY PARENTS, Motherly, Modern Luxury Dallas, Thrive Moms, and more. She blogs at https://faithandcomposition.wordpress.com. You can also find her on IG at https://www.instagram.com/shalenerobertsblog/

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