They tell you it flies by. They tell you to savor it. But in the thick of sleepless nights and potty training and sticky floors, those words don’t register. Instead, you dream of a full night’s rest, and uninterrupted showers, and just a few minutes of breathing room.

Somehow, in the time vacuum of motherhood, the days blend together and suddenly they are teenagers. Simple joys like tea parties and rounds of Candyland and trips to the park are replaced with theater club and gymnastics practice and cell phones. Your giggly little girl no longer climbs in your lap, but instead, walks around laughing with girlfriends on the other side of a screen.

No one really talks about it—the grief you carry in those middle years.

Those years when you can count on one hand the number of years until they launch, and you have the sober realization that you only have them for a little while longer. Your instinct is to rewind time or create time—to hold them tighter—but their instinct is to push forward and pull away. It’s a slow de-tethering that needs to happen for them and for you, but goodness, it hurts so much.

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In our minds, we know this was the goal—to release them and watch them grow and flourish. But as the process begins, our hearts want to go back to simpler timestimes when the stakes didn’t feel so high. Back then, their hearts were pure and innocent and full of joy. Now, in these middle years, you see and feel the weight of their feelings. You see an adult forming. You see how the world has slowly taken their innocence, and you long for all the right words and all the wisdom you can muster just in case you didn’t do enough.

You long for lemonade stands and princess dresses and freshly picked dandelions. You only vaguely remember their sweet little voices and the way they used to mix up words in all the best ways. The warmth of their tiny hands, the sweet scent of a fresh bath, the sound of feet running to greet you in the morning—they are now just one-dimensional memories you wish you could bring to life, even for just one day.

But like all things motherhood, we carry this grief as a holy honor and we trust that our love was and always will be enough.

We embrace the truth that God’s plan is always good and that He loves our grumpy and unpredictable teens more than we ever could. We lean into the natural movement of this season, and we hold tight to our faith.

RELATED: Mamas, Please Quit Mourning Your Children Growing Up

We pray for their hearts, we look for moments to connect, and then we force ourselves to watch from the sidelines. We allow them to sift through their moods, push against boundaries, and find their footing all on their own. We offer our guidance when we can, but mostly we just cheer them on with tender hearts, proud eyes, and open arms.

These middle years are tough, but they are sacred. And, yes, I’m going to say it: We need to savor them.

Because now we know . . . they really do fly by.

Originally published on the author’s blog

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Lisa Bonnema

Lisa is a freelance writer and editor, but her true passion is encouraging women and sharing her faith through speaking engagements and all things social media. She has been married to her husband Jeff for 21 years and is “a mom in progress” to three strong girls and one giant dog.

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