The days are long…but the years are short.

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“The days are long, but the years are short.”

That’s what the wizened mother said to me as she gently placed her hand on my arm in a Target store as I pushed my oldest child, still an infant, through the store in a daze.  I’m pretty sure that my hair was unkempt with frizzy flyaway curls sticking out at crazy angels, my eyes showed the sleepless nights, and my clothing most likely showed the day’s menu.

I thanked her politely and smiled, but in my head I was already thinking of all the reasons she was DEAD WRONG.  Long days drug on into long weeks which I was sure would turn into long months.  That was last week.  A couple of weeks from now, that same baby will be graduating eighth grade and beginning a whole new chapter of her life.  I have four short years left with her at home.  I am absolutely certain that those four years will feel like four minutes.  That makes me panic a little.  Okay – a lot.

That wizened mother was so very wise indeed.  I’ve passed her advice on to countless parents in the trenches in the thirteen years that have elapsed since she laid her hand on my arm that day.  I’m truly hopeful that they’ve passed it on to others in the trenches as they realized its truth.  A few months ago, I put my bossy pants on and shared with you all my deep rooted plea to get in the frame – to take family pictures – and not to let years go by before you capture the beautiful that is your family right.now.  I stand by that, but I’ve hitched up my bossy pants once again.

Document your older kids.  Today.  Tomorrow will be too late.

It’s insanely easy for us to snap a bazillion pictures of our babies, our toddlers, our preschoolers, and even our young elementary kids.  They’re constantly exploring and learning new things and they’re often even eager to have their picture taken.  (Sometimes a little too eager to see the results and if that’s where you’re at…. try this post for tips.)

Our older kids aren’t necessarily doing as many new things, they’re often less likely to be exploring their surroundings with awe and wonder, and they’re certainly (at least in my house) not as eager to have their picture taken.  Take the pictures anyway.  Snap a shot of your bookworm with their nose in a book.  Get a picture of your baker working in the kitchen or your young chef helping with dinner.  Catch them napping on the couch or tuned in to a movie.  Take a picture when they’re working hard at something they love – sweaty and determined.  You’re going to want to remember this.  Document the Fortnite marathon.  Disregard their looks of disdain and capture the moment anyway.

Of course take pictures when they’re playing sports or riding horses or at a band concert, but also take time to capture their everyday moments just like you did when they were small.

Big kids don’t grow quite as quickly as they did when they were small, but they are changing – and they are with us for such a short time.  I imagine that my own oldest will start to be home far less than she is now before I can even bat my eyelashes, so I’m committed to making a special effort to capture her this summer (and my second child who is right on her heels).  I know I’ll be so glad that I did.

If you are a parent of an eighth grader who is finding yourself a little panicky about just how little time you have left – you are not alone.  Stay strong.  Take pictures.  It’s not too late. We’ve got this.  If you’re a parent of a third or fourth grader still feeling like there are a lot of years before you’ll be in my shoes – there aren’t.  There are four minutes left in the game and it’s time to start making it count.

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