There is a time that lives in my heart that feels like it’s straight out of a Star Wars intro. A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. A time when I received endless hugs.  A time when kisses on the cheek were plentiful. When bedtime rolled on for hours, with baby blue eyes, raspy little voices, and sweaty curls begging for more books, more snuggles, more time.

There was a time when I gave underdogs until dusk, piggyback rides for miles, and lay on the floor flying my kids on airplane journeys that ended in crash landings full of tickles and giggles. A time when we spent hours playing tag in the front yard until I begged for a break. A time when I could lift up my boys in one easy swoop and cradle them effortlessly in my arms as I carried them from the car and tucked them soundly into their beds.

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Somewhere along the way, those hugs were replaced by eye rolls. “Stop it, Mom,” substituted for giggles, and my boys swapped out games of tag with me, for hours of shooting hoops in the driveway with friends.

And even though I know that’s how it should behow the cycle of life progresses, how our kids turn to teens, and teens turn to young adultsit still feels like I should still be back in that time when hugs didn’t feel like finding a unicorn. When all of those moments were the norm and not the exception. 

Maybe it was how quickly it came. How suddenly it turned from one thing to the other. How once upon a time I was the sunshine to these boys, and now the biggest rays of light seem to come from everywhere else. Whatever it is, these teen years have definitely wreaked a little havoc on my sensitive heart.

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But just when I find myself wallowing in a pity party for one, that unicorn appears. With its mane full of hope and beauty, reminding me there is still the magic of childhood bottled up in those teenage hearts. An invitation to play a game of one v one. A head on my shoulder while watching a questionably rated family movie on the couch. Those blue eyes and sweaty curls lingering a little longer in our room after telling us about a night out with friends. And best of all, a hug. A fleeting moment of authentic affection that radiates from their arms wrapped tightly around me, to all the spaces in my soul. 

And while those hugs may feel like unicorns these days, I continue to hold hope that those unicorns keep showing up for me across these teen years. After all, unicorns are magic, and we all deserve a little of that.

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Amy Keyes

Amy Keyes is a middle school teacher and freelance writer in St. Paul. When she's not cheering too loudly while spectating at her teenagers' sports, she's running, working out, binge watching recommended series on tv, or hanging out with her dog.

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