I stand next to you while the church band plays, amazed that you now tower four inches taller than me. How did you get so tall and your feet so big that they stretch further toward the seats in front of us than mine do? I wonder how have I arrived here so quickly, finding myself standing next to you—almost a man? My motherhood journey through church with you has swiftly flown by.

I carried you in my body listening to God’s word as you tumbled, rolled, slept, probably smiled so tiny and happy in my pregnant belly.

I held you as you were baptized, as you giggled at the people in the sanctuary, your gorgeous baby smile delighting everyone with those robust cheeks that now are exquisitely carved, making you look like the next boy model. You didn’t cry, but smiled the whole time as the water tickled your baby head that day. Nor did you cry as I held you, the main attraction with family, afterward in the yellow baby blanket that was once mine.

In church services, I held baby-you on my lap and rushed out as you cried, and nursed you in the mother’s room until you fell asleep or smiled up at me.

When I left you in the nursery, sometimes you lasted the whole service; sometimes I was called from hearing God’s word to come comfort you. But I knew God was teaching me His word in that moment as I nurtured and comforted you, so I was not at a loss of his wisdom as I mothered you.

When you were a toddler, I volunteered alongside other brave souls to watch you and friends jump and squeal in the childcare room while other moms and dads relished in self-care for their souls in the service.

Then I dropped you off at the preschool room where you ate snacks, sang songs and clapped, talked about God, played with toys many other little hands touched. You grabbed blocks and train tracks with the perfect little hands God gave you. You heard Bible lessons then came rushing to me at the door with a joyful face at the end of the service. You were a smile from God to me each time.

Next, you strode up the stairs to the big kids’ room to learn more about God. You played games and danced (well, maybe sometimes danced). The volunteers gave you popcorn as you found peers and friends to hang with, visit the basketball and video games alongside. Clapping and singing along became uncool, but you still heard God’s word. I felt lucky to have you.

Time kept going, even though I was chasing it, wanting it to go faster to make you more independent before realizing what I really wanted was for it to slow down. I miss the past; I wish I had relished it more, lived in the moment more, but my busy mom hands never slowed down. I realize even as big as you are now, my mom hands still haven’t slowed down. But I now know it’s a good busy to cherish.

Yet, as I miss the past, I glory in your new accomplishments, your new faith, how you’ve learned to pray, and how our church is helping you be a person of faith. I love that these seeds are now in you and I’m watching them grow and blossom. I’m delighted when you bring up God to me because I know He is at work in your life and I am so grateful for that.

So, I can’t be sad as you age. The bittersweetness of it makes me want to weep for times that are gone, but still, I want you to grow and succeed. I want you to stand next to me as this teenager, looking more like a man than a child. I can’t lament for too long as many joys are yet to come to me as your mother.

I glance at you sideways during the service. I wonder what goes on inside your head when our pastor speaks. Do you hear him in ways you don’t hear me? I hope so. He is wise and may speak to your heart in ways of faith I never could.

I am grateful for my motherhood journey through church with you. I’ve gotten to go on this ride with you. I’m so lucky.

I hope to help usher you into adulthood, and I promise, I won’t cry too much for the old you but look with hopeful mama eyes to your future. I want you to grow even though I miss the old you with twinkling eyes asking me to play pretend games of a rocket ship zooming along to far off lands in our living room. I admit I miss the times when I was called from church to soothe your little young soul in the parent-child room where you played with toys feeling safe once again near me.

I hope my presence beside you in church soothes you now as adulthood looms near.

Time is going on and I see a man in you. A man I hope will someday find a woman who wants to be a mom like me, and who loves the baby, the toddler, the preschooler, the elementary kid, and now the high schooler moments that have made you into the amazing man you are becoming. I may cry as I remember and miss each stage of you, but I cherish it all, too. Each moment is carved on my heart and soul; each time I wished time would go faster, and each second I held on for dear life wishing the moment would last forever.

I take this challenge of motherhood, of parenting you through these teenage years. I promise to love the future as much as the past. I will always be your mom because God has blessed me immensely and without adequate and glorious words to convey the true joy of how I cherish being your mom. God made me the lucky one when he gave me you.

Julie Hoag

Julie Hoag is a freelance writer and blogger, wife, and mom to three busy boys, & fur mama to two rescue dogs and two guinea pigs. She writes on her blog about motherhood, kids, family, recipes, DIY, travel, and faith. She is a vegetarian who loves to cook and create recipes when she’s not driving her three boys all over town to sports practices in her crumb-filled minivan. In her past life she has worked as a Scientist and Medical Data Manager, a pediatric nurse, and a SAHM. She loves to volunteer in her kids’ schools and help fundraise money for their schools. She is a Christian who loves nature, animals, traveling, gardening, swimming in her pool, and simply spending time with her family. Her favorites are dark chocolate, red wine, and cheese with yummy bread. http://www.juliehoagwriter.com/