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Embracing the "Last Time Moments" of Parenthood

release my grip[This article by Kami Gilmour is an excerpt from a chapter in her best-selling devotional book, Release My Grip, Hope for a Parent's Heart as Kids Leave the Nest and Learn to Fly 

There are many precious "last time" moments and milestones with our kids that all parents celebrate with photos and fanfare.

There are also the "last time moments" we quietly honor with a simple, searing acknowledgement of its sacredness.

And then there are the moments that slip by totally unnoticed.

They're the mundane little things that are so routine they don’t land on our nostalgia radar until we suddenly notice one day that they’re over.

Did I know when it was the “official” last time that I carried my each of my children on my hip?

Because there WAS a very last time, and although hip-carrying instances dwindle down slowly over the years to the occasional sick or injured-kid-moment, there still was a single last time. My teenage son is now 6’1” and my go-to guy for carrying all things heavy. There's no hip-carrying happening in our house anymore.

If I had thought about that while double-hipping two kids into the grocery store I might have been more patient.

But I didn’t pay attention.

When was the official last time I ever pushed them in a stroller?

Or read them a book?

Or cut up their meat?

Or forgot to be the tooth fairy (again?)

I’m not sure if I would have cheered or cried knowing when these ordinary parenting tasks were officially commanding their final performance, but I do know that the realization of not being present like I could’ve in my kids’ lives gives me a parenthood gut-check of guilt that haunts me too often.

Last summer before my daughter started college, she started giving me “last time” countdowns to just about everything.

Not that I needed more nostalgic reminders at that point because I’d already gut-checked myself into a fetal position after watching her preschool graduation video the night after she graduated from high school.

I was frantic, wondering about the moments I’d missed in the last 18 years, and how it was suddenly over so fast.

“Hey Mom, can you make me a grilled cheese and bring it to me in my room? It might be the LAST TIME before I leave for college.…” (LIE. It was only June and she used that line at least 7 more times.)

 “Can we go back-to-school clothes shopping for the LAST TIME before I leave the nest?” (LIE. She comes home during college breaks and she still hits me up for shopping.)

As I’m writing this, it’s now a year later, and she’s getting ready to go back to college in a few days. She doesn’t tease me with the “last time” reminders anymore, because we’ve transitioned to a new chapter realizing that there’s always an option for another last time.

She’s grown up, but she hasn’t stopped being my daughter, and I haven’t stopped being her mother.

And for now she leaves the nest and comes home again in a steady rhythm. It’s become a comfortable new season of parenting routine.

Truth? I'm loving this new season of parenting because it's actually much more pleasant than some of her teenage years!

And when she's home I still make her grilled cheese, take her shopping, and marvel at the amazing growth I’ve seen in her even over the last year. It’s not over, it’s just different—and I’m better at savoring it now.

I've learned the trick to this is battling guilt and grief with gratefulness.

What I know for sure is that looking back and feeling guilty or sad robs me of being present for the moment I’m in now. But looking back through the lens of gratitude makes the present even sweeter. 

And I’m no longer in a fetal position, which is healthy for everyone.


FullSizeRender (54)Written by Kami Gilmour, mom of 5 teen and young adult kids. She's the author of a  best-selling book that chronicles her imperfect journey of parenting in this season with a refreshing sense honesty, humor, and practical insights:  Release My Grip: Hope for a Parent's Heart as Kids Leave the Nest and Learn to Fly. 


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Showing 12 comments
  • Denise Rigby

    I loved this article! Thank-you! Feeling gratitude as I reflect on all the joys of motherhood. I’m sending my last of five children off to college again this Fall. It has been a series of lasts at our house. ?

  • Sharon Sandberg

    Wow! I loved this because I have thought of this so many times- how you never know it is the last time you will do a certain mundane thing with your child. And yes, i have felt this guilt as well. This was so beautifully written and so so true.

  • Ann

    Then she graduates from college and you find yourself on a NYC subway platform, as she rolls out of sight—- jobless and homeless. Who knew my heart could travel on the A train without me?

    • Kami Gilmour

      …now I’m in a fetal position again!!!!!

      • Cathy

        Kami, I’m there with you! Just sent our only daughter out of 5 kids, off to college 3 days ago! I’m having a lot of mom moments!! ?

  • Kathy

    Today was D-Day, I’m a wreck. This showed up in my box for a reason. I may be in the fetal position for the next week, but things will return to a new sense of normal. Thank you!

  • Ann

    On my thread this morning popped up the picture I took last year of the last school book I was to ever cover with brown bag paper. Those little things mean a lot!

  • Carolyn

    Thank you for your posts
    You have provided real and on point commentary to capture what I’m feeling because you’ve gone before me in this journey of parenthood
    I think I’ve way too often been in the fetal position this past year
    My son, just 18, is going to s post graduate year before college
    All the friends have gone off this past week
    He’s having a hard time and I’m feeling it too
    He has about 10 days before he moves out on his own in boarding school this year
    Its hard to accept change
    Thank you- reminder be in the present with gratitude
    You feel like the warm mom friend I desire to know

  • Christine

    I pray for this, as I am to blame for my mistakes. I miss my daughter so much, and my hope has turned into regret. She has been gone for over two years now. Lord please hear my prayer. My heart is broken.

    • Kami Gilmour

      I’m so sorry to hear this, Christine. Praying for you. May you be embraced by Christ’s love and peace in your pain.

      • Christine

        Thank you @Kami Gilmour

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