When Those “Lasts” Tug at Your Heart, Focus on the “Firsts”

It's okay to miss the way things were, just don't miss the beauty of what's yet to come...

by Nancy Reynolds

This post: When Those “Lasts” Tug at Your Heart, Focus on the “Firsts”

When my kids were young, every “last” seemed to slip through my fingers like dry sand.

As much as I wanted to relish and soak in all those “lasts” – the last time I rocked my babies to sleep, the last time I pushed them on the swing at the park, the last time I actually fed them in their high chair – I was too busy keeping up with the crazy chaos of daily life all while trying to adjust to every new “first” that always seemed to keep me off-kilter. Life was a total blur.

But it’s funny how quickly things shift on your motherhood journey…


As your kids become older, and the haze of early momhood lifts, you realize just how fast your kids are growing up, how quickly time is passing by, and that the precious time you have with them actually living under your roof is nearing an end. And, suddenly, you find yourself wishing with all your heart that you could slow things down just a bit to breathe it all in. 

That’s when you start clinging to every “last” with a vice grip. And, it’s SO hard…

Like when my son got his driver’s license and I knew the days of me driving him and all his friends were over. Or when he decided that he didn’t need me to go with him to his hair appointments anymore and I just smiled (through my tears) and said, “Great, let me know if you change your mind,” knowing full well he wasn’t going to change his mind. Or the day I realized that my daughter hadn’t asked for help with her homework in over a month.

So many quiet and heart-tugging clues that my kids were taking one step closer to the door.

One step closer to the day when they wouldn’t need me as much. One step closer to the day when they would pack their bags and venture off to college or out into the world. One step closer to an empty house that would be void of all the light and magic they carried with them.

My youngest son’s senior year of high school was especially grueling. Not only is he my only boy… he’s my baby, so I felt everything stronger and harder than my older kids – his last prom, that last football game, his last sleepover with all his guy friends, the last senior event, the last time I volunteered at the school.

And, let’s not even talk about how many blubbering tears I cried at the graduation ceremony. 

Last, last, last… 

I mean, sure, I’m incredibly proud of how far my kids have come and all of their wonderful accomplishments. It brings me pure joy to have a front-row seat on their amazing journey to becoming the capable, hardworking, compassionate young adults I always knew they could be.

And, yes, I’m bursting with excitement about their future and can’t wait to see where their life takes them.

I just wish I could hit the pause button, or better yet, bottle up all those “last” moments and hold onto them so I could pull them out every time I felt the pang of empty nester loneliness. 

I truly have loved being part of my kids’ lives. When they attended their first dance, confided in me that they had their first kiss, drove off in the car by themselves for the first time, and went on their first college visit – those memories and hundreds of others are tucked away in my heart forever.

But rather than looking in the rearview mirror, which is truly a beautiful view, I’m now focusing more on what’s in front of me

The truth is, moms… every chapter of motherhood has so many precious lasts, but on the heels of all those tender lasts are so many amazing firsts. And, that’s what we have to focus on. Sure, it’s okay to embrace the beauty of the past as long as we don’t lose sight of the future.

I’ll never ever let go of the past or the memory of my kids’ tiny hands in mind, but I’ve realized that their hand is no longer mine to hold. This is their time to reach out to the world and find their own path. I’ll always be by their side, I’ll always have their back and they’ll always be able to lean on me no matter what life throws at them, but this is a chapter they have to write on their own.

Now, I find myself excited about a “Hey mom, watcha doing?” text from my son in college in the middle of the day. Or when he decides to come home for the weekend just to hang out because he misses us. Or when my daughter calls me, like she did the other day, after she finished class and said, “Wanna grab lunch with me, mom?”  

I desperately miss the way things were but I’m more excited about the way things are and the things that are yet to come… 

So mamas and dads, remember, when those “lasts” tug at your heart, take a moment to focus on all the wonderful “firsts.” Because those are precious memories you don’t want to miss.

If you enjoyed reading, ” When Those Lasts Tug at Your Heart, Focus on the Firsts,” you might enjoy reading these posts as well:

I’m Learning to Let Go of My Teen, What’s Hard is Finding a New Purpose

Coping with Empty Nest Syndrome: 15 Tips to Make Life Full Again

My Daughter’s Empty Bedroom Nearly Broke My Heart

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