There is a song with the same lyrics of the title that describes life as a series of events where some are glorious and others not so much, but that it always changes and stays a bit unpredictable but that can be seen as the glory of it. Life with children is even more so as children are their own thinking, feeling beings that may have drastically different ideas than our own. Yet, in the same moment, a poem “The Last Time” describes there will be a last time for everything when it comes to them. The only thing guaranteed in life is that it changes and, like the poem states, you may not even realize when it does.
With children, you need to live a bit in the moment, making decisions that have the best interest in mind with the thought of the immediate future but always be asking “What do I want them to learn from this for their future?” Or “will this matter in 10 minutes or 10 years?” The poem “The Last Time” describes moments like feeding your baby/toddler or putting them to bed as being times to enjoy and cherish (which can be easier said than done) that have the ultimate endpoint of the child eventually doing it themselves. Do you allow your child to emerge into an independent eater or sleeper and only help them when they don’t have the skill to do it themselves and allow for the messy time of spills or nights getting out of bed in between? This is the balance and beauty of parenting. We need to recognize the time of dependence with support and guidance but also recognize the importance of emergence into independence by being aware of, encouraging and celebrating “the last time” that we were needed.
The poem describes that sometimes “the last time” may happen without us realizing it, and we will be reminded later on or a memory will be triggered that recalls the time, sometimes with relief but other times, most times when there is significant time gone by, with the unconditional love and pride of where it all began. All parents from their child’s birth have hopes and dreams for their children and it can be difficult yet exciting to see how it changes as the child begins to make decisions for themselves with interests, talents and drive to pursue their own vision. As we stand by, there may be times when we may watch with sadness or fear as again life changes can go both directions. Yet, this is what makes us all individuals with experiences both good and bad, that make us who we are and ready to take on a future that no one can even imagine… and this is where we take all the love, support and guidance as the foundation that helps us navigate through all of the unknowns of the future.
As parents emerge on the other side as children enter adulthood, there is only the guarantee that everything changes again, bringing new and different times of happiness and sadness with the change in relationship with adult children. But everyone who gets to this stage looks back fondly on the laughter and tears of those pivotal early childhood years.
As I write from the heart for “the last time,” with all of my experiences of parenting and educating young children (the good, bad and the ugly), I hope that these words have given hope, support and a little bit of reality to others on their own journey. A special thank you to all of my children at home and at school who continue to teach me new things everyday and make me better at recognizing what is really important; I wouldn’t change it for the world.