Sometimes I think I pretend it’s not happening . . . but it is.

My girls are growing up and to be quite honest, I don’t know where the time went. 

I swear I was just breastfeeding one and teaching another how to ride her bike without training wheels.

Where did my little girl who liked to stomp in rainy day puddles and get mud all over her go? 

Where did my little girl who loved looking for toads go? 

Other moms warned me.

They did, and they didn’t sugarcoat.

So, I shouldn’t be this shocked or act this surprised when I catch a glimpse of an old photo. 

But the shock stares me down face to face, and it doesn’t let go. 

Shock sets in. 

Sadness fills up my heart a bit and parts of me want to rush back to those times and relive them. 

RELATED: Don’t tell me I’m Going to Miss This. I Already Know.

But other moms warned me.

The warning would come almost every time I walked into Target, a restaurant, and at the swings at the town playground. Moms would see me from far away, with four girls trailing behind and next to me, like a little gaggle of ducklings, and immediately begin their descent to talk with me.

Some moms warned me to slow down, take a deep breath, and as cliche as it sounds, relish in every moment.

And you know what . . . the warning was right.

The warning was heartfelt.

The warning was their gift to me.

A gift of time for me to adjust emotionally, so when the day arrived and I glanced at a photo, I wouldn’t feel as if my heart stopped. 

Maybe I didn’t slow down enough.

Maybe I didn’t appreciate every waking moment, but I couldn’t.

I had to be realistic.

I had to be human and parent.

I had to live.

I had to allow time to move forward.

So now, these little ducklings of mine are now teens. I love this time with my teenage daughters, don’t get me wrong. This time is breathtaking and filled with so many new opportunities to look forward to. 

But when I see a certain photo and relive the memory that comes up, I miss the messy hair, the muddy elbows and knobby knees, and the snuggles in pink hoodies. 

I miss the dirty feet that turned a bubble bath into a brown mess, and I miss the gaps of teeth missing.

RELATED: Because One Day She Will Have To Walk Away

So yeah, as much as I adore my teens, I would be lying if I didn’t admit that some memories fill me with anguish.

I’m at a point when each day is a fleeting moment and I’m just trying to hold on tight as long as I can while also providing a space for growth and independence.

But, the other moms warned me.

They didn’t lie. They were being raw and real.

They reached deep into their soul and pulled out a piece of their broken heart, right there in the aisle at Target.

Now it’s my turn to be that mom.

But as much as I will share a piece of my broken soul, I will also mend it by sharing how utterly fantastic the teen years are and the joy that will continue for years to come. 

Growing up doesn’t mean it’s over. 

Maybe it’s just another chat, in a different aisle of Target, with another mom. 

Ali Flynn

Hang in there mama by Ali Flynn Ali Flynn lives in New York with her four teenage daughters and husband. She is excited to share with you the joys and hardships of motherhood with an open heart, laughter and some tears. Ali is a monthly guest contributor for Westchester County Moms and has been seen on Filter Free Parents, Grown and Flown, Today Parents and Her View From Home. You can also find her at https://www.facebook.com/hangintheremama where she keeps motherhood real.