We had an extremely busy weekend, as usual.

The kids were all going in different directions with activities, plans and our oldest having a part time job. And then our three-year-old became sicker than usual . . . again. The poor little thing is constantly sick. My husband and I have now perfected the divide and conquer dance. The perfect timing of dropping off and picking up and trading car seats and frequent coffee stops and quick text message reminders and hoping and praying that no one gets a flat tire and knocks down this barely balanced house of cards we’ve built. It’s crazy, and we love it. But there is no room for error, no time to really think–and no time for us.

On Friday night, we had the chance to go on a date night with dear friends we haven’t seen in months. It was amazing! Of course, the conversation quickly turned to our kids since our oldest two have grown up with their only two. They mentioned one child was out with friends after making his own plans and the other was home studying and was going to order a pizza. We said that one of our oldest was also out with friends and that our 15-year-old was at the stable where she ride and works and would grab a ride home with a friend or order a pizza and wait for us.

Then I looked at my friend and fellow mom and I choked up a little. “When did this happen? When did our children become so independent? So darn grown up?”

She looked at me with the same tears in her eyes and said simply, “I don’t know.”

We are always being told that the days are long but the years are short. I beg to differ. Now that our children are past the baby stage I feel like it’s all short. I feel like I’ve jumped into a time machine that only goes forward and it’s going at hyper speed–so fast the wind is burning my eyes and I can’t seem to catch my breath. So fast that some days I barely recognize myself in the mirror and I struggle to comprehend the stages in development that our children are suddenly in. I can’t seem to keep up. I think I have it figured out and seconds later they change the game. Quite honestly, it scares the crap out of me.

I know they need to grow. They need to find their passions, follow their paths and figure out who they are. I also know that if they are comfortable doing those things, then we have done our job. But the idea of this house being empty one day is a reality I am not yet ready to face. The thought that I might not be needed? My mommy heart can’t bear it. We still have a five- and three-year-old who will need us for a very long time yet, but we are stuck in that time machine set to fast forward and all I can do is try to watch while the wind burns my eyes. I know what’s coming.

This afternoon our 15-year-old asked me something. When I looked up to answer her, I looked into the eyes of that same child when she was two. I was magically transported back in time and I was seeing those same eyes back then: big, brown eyes framed in about a million lashes asking her millionth question of the day, gazing back at me waiting for my response.

For a moment, it took my breath away. My heart filled with joy then because I realized on some level, they will always need me. They will always have questions for me. They will always look to me for answers and support as they find their way through this world. And sometimes, that time machine is going to show me some mercy and, even for just a brief moment, take me back.

Jesica Ryzynski

Jesica Ryzynski is the highly caffeinated mother of four children aged three to fifteen.  She shares her sleep deprived parenting experiences with a healthy dose of honesty and humor on her blog: www.isthatchocolateorpoop.com. You can find her on Facebook too!