526 weeks.

That’s roughly the number of weeks I have left with my son until he graduates high school. I know this because last week I downloaded an app called Legacy Countdown, which helps you see how long you really have before your child is grown. At first I was hesitant to download the app. Do I really want to know the number? Will it make me sad? I decided to download it because my kids are still young, and I figured that my number would still be in the several hundred weeks.

When I showed the countdown to my son, he was amazed. “WOW! That’s how many weeks until I graduate?” he said. To him, 526 weeks was still a lifetime. His world of homework is only beginning. His first school diorama is still awaiting him. There will be book reports to write, semester-long projects to create and countless tests to study for. More excitingly, there will be sports to play, family vacations to take, friends to make and plenty of other adventures to plan.

There was quite a different response when I showed the app to my friend whose child is a high school senior. The number of weeks on her app was very small. There was only one family vacation left in those weeks. Those weeks would quickly fill with studying for finals, end of the year events and graduation parties.

She did not like the app. I don’t think I would like the app if I were in her shoes either. It’s one thing to know in the back of your mind that your child’s graduation is nearing, it’s another thing to be able to see that it’s 12 weeks away.

One day I will be in her shoes. I cannot stop time. I too, will one day be 12 weeks away from my oldest child going off to college. As a mom, I’d like to believe I am making the most of my time with my kids each day, but as the popular blogger Glennon Doyle Melton wrote,“I can’t even carpe fifteen minutes in a row, so a whole diem is out of the question.”

If I focus too much on the impending graduation date, I fear I will stress myself out trying to make every day a Pinterest-worthy memory-making event. On the other hand, some of the best memories are made in the simple unplanned moments. I must leave room for unplanned memories.

As I began to stress over whether I would use my time wisely as a parent, I reflected on my own childhood. I had some pretty awesome memories. My favorite birthday party was in third grade when my parents planned a fancy meal for my friends and me. I never felt more important than when my dad took me to work with him on Capitol Hill. In middle school my mom came on most of my Girl Scout camping trips, which was pretty cool (even if I didn’t think so at the time).

There were also days that were less memorable. Days when I woke up, went to school, came home, did homework, ate dinner and went to bed. Nothing that extraordinary about those days, but they had to happen. There were afternoons spent in my room because my brother and I were fighting and we were being punished until dinnertime. Not all weekends were spent making memories either. Many were spent doing normal things like playing basketball or attending Girl Scout functions. Some weekends were devoted entirely to homework. And embarrassingly, I spend some weekends reading a book or watching TV the entire weekend.

Reflecting on my childhood helped me realize something; life will happen. The memories will be made. Whether they are on family vacations or family game nights at our house, my children will have moments they will never forget. If I live my life stressing over whether I am living each day to the fullest, I will no doubt miss out on the moments that are right in front of me. In this crazy world of schedules and five-year plans, I find one of the hardest things to do is to live in the present instead of the future. If I am to truly enjoy the time I have with the ones I love, isn’t it best if I just take each day as it comes, giving thanks to God that I have one more day to spend with the ones I love?

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