We’re so often told to cling to the days with our littles, to squeeze every drop of goodness out of the moments because they are so fleeting. I am not even going to attempt to tell you any differently. Those days do end, oh so quickly, but today I need to tell you, moms of littles, that the sweetness doesn’t have to.

It looks different in these teen and young adult years, that’s for sure. My babies no longer fit on my lap, but they do sometimes still try to make it work, for old times’ sake. It’s been years since we read Goodnight Moon at bedtime, but we still know the words and can recite it together, reminiscing over the years of tuck-ins when it was mandatory reading. My kids still let me kiss them goodnight and “tuck them in” but now it’s not the mad circus of getting another drink of water and making sure they went pee, and I often go to bed before them.

We see movies together, from Black Panther to A Wrinkle in Time, and have captivating discussions afterward. They do their own laundry now, and boy is that a win! We left the “no thank you bite” stage of life some time ago; my kids know the dinner rules and follow them without reminders, and mealtimes, which we still try to do together daily, are full of great conversations, inside jokes, and movie quotes that have become the taglines from years of doing things and making memories together. When you throw in stories from everyone’s day, mealtime has gone from chaos to connection over the last few years.

While I am all too aware our time together under the same roof is limited, the joy of this time is all the more poignant because of that. And while I dread the heartache of move out day, if experience has taught me anything, it’s that the next phase of life will be infused with just as much sweetness as this one, even if there’s a flip side of bitterness to the sweet as my kids move on and out.

I was the mom who sobbed the first time each child boarded the bus, and a few more times after that. I was the mom who spent years feeling sad I was done with babies, then littles, and I’m sure I will with bigs as well. But this moment, where I am right now, it’s the place to be.

I’m not going to spend this good moment worrying that the next won’t be as precious, and I’m equally reluctant to regret missed moment in the past. History tells me each stage has it’s good and bad. Surfing the waves of each day and phase of life hasn’t come easily or naturally to me, but leaning into the moment I’m in without fussing about how long it will last or what comes next frees my heart and mind to be the mom I want to be, and it works in every stage of life.

Alethea Mshar

Alethea Mshar is a mother of four children; an adult child who passed away of a drug overdose, one typical daughter and two sons who have Down syndrome, one of whom has autism spectrum disorder and complex medical needs. She has written "What Can I Do To Help", a guide to stepping into the gap when someone you know has a child diagnosed with cancer, which is available on Amazon, and is publishing a memoir titled, "Hope Deferred". She can be found on Twitter as leemshar, and blogs for The Mighty HuffPost as Alethea Mshar, as well as her own blog, Ben's Writing Running Mom on https://benswritingrunningmom.wordpress.com/. She is also on Facebook as Alethea Mshar, The Writing, Running Mom.