In October 2005, my middle son was born. In 2018, he graduated from college.

Today, I’m trying to figure out how time works.

Eons ago I had three kids in three and a half years. Life was abuzz. Now I have two college graduates and kid number three will walk across the college stage next May. Life is profoundly quiet.

But at one point my life was full of noise and chaos. I didn’t know which end was up.

As moms, ensuring the health, safety and well-being of our children is only one enormous responsibility we have in life. Other roles may include wife, volunteer, career person, caregiver, confidant, ministry leader, coach, etc. When so many moving parts vie for our attention, the load can be overwhelming. At any given moment, one or more of these areas can break down and leave us reeling.

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If we don’t tend to the damage when the mishaps occur, before long our life as a whole can get out of hand. I’ve been there. When my house was full of littles, my husband traveled for work. Over time, my exhaustion turned to resentment, which gave birth to marital strife, which resulted in sleepless nights. During the teen years, the battles over independence left me frazzled, which morphed into eating stress for breakfast, lunch and dinner, which brewed up ulcers in my belly.

What I came to learn the hard way is the value and importance of slowing down. To pause long enough to take a step back and evaluate what’s going on. Sometimes this looks like getting away for a day by yourself, meeting up with supportive friends or making the time to attend a weekend spiritual retreat.

I don’t know whether you are in the throes of littles, the sweetness of the elementary years, the drama and heartache of middle school, the push and pull of teenager land or staring into the abyss of an empty nest. What I do know is these seasons fly by. Which is why with every passing year I’m reminded that right NOW is all that matters. This moment.

Regardless of the stage of motherhood we are in, the only way to bend time in our favor is to immerse ourselves in the present. In the messes, joys, trials, celebrations, painful moments and idyllic experiences.

To experience any of these scenarios means we are still here. Alive and breathing. Blessed.

Every second counts when time races by at the speed of light.

Although life sneaks up on us, LOVE is a constant.

God guarantees us this gift. It’s ours for the giving and receiving. Right now. In this moment.

This post originally appeared on Today Parents.