After 24 years of mothering, today marks a monumental last for me with the final “first day of school” coming to pass as our daughter begins her senior year in college. Not that I’m counting, but this is #58 when you combine pre-school, k-12, and college for all three kids. These pics are from our celebration as a family this past weekend.

And so it goes, over two decades filled with school stuff now come and going, going, soon to be gone. But alas, my heart is full of joy, not sorrow. Which will make many of my BFFs roll their eyeballs and scoff, “Yeah right. You’re bawling like the baby you are.” Really guys, I’m not!

The reason I’m minus the melancholy is that I’ve come to understand that for every inevitable last, there comes a hope-filled first. Our last kid finishing up a lifetime of school is one of those beautiful moments. Not just the money perk either when we can finally say, “and so it went, and now it shall return.”

The last first day of school is the first day towards a life of complete independence for your child. The moment you think out loud, “hey, I actually did figure out how to parent a kid from diapers to diplomas!” It’s a mind-blowing milestone because you swear you had no idea what you were doing through most of the journey.

Now you begin to really see the fruit of your labor which calls for getting drunk on gratitude Thank you, Jesus. Also, thank you for turning my water into wine tonight because miracles never cease.

Mommas, regardless of where any of us are on our mothering timeline, the key is basking in the knowledge that, God-willing, the inescapable lasts will eventually settle into sanguine firsts. Of course, we all have many and varied journeys in which certain lasts never became firsts to begin with. Each mother has a unique list of transitional moments. But, from my experience, here’s a short list of destined progressions full of promise for us to press deep into our mom heart:

For every last intimate nursing or bottle-fed experience, comes the wonder of your child nourishing herself

For every last first birthday, comes the opportunity to look forward to the second birthday and so on

For every last time you airplane food into your toddler’s mouth comes the tender appreciation of seeing him patiently use a spoon

For every last time you cut up grapes, comes the relief of a mouthful of teeth that know how to chew

For every last diaper change, comes the joy of watching your child beam with pride over using the potty like a big girl

For every last ride in a stroller, comes the mushiness of walking side-by-side, hand-in-hand


For every last time your heart swells because your child writes his letters backward and sideways, comes the heart melt of receiving a handwritten birthday card replete with big words expressing why he loves you

For every last time you tie a shoe, comes the pride of watching your child figure out how to use little hands to twist and turn floppy strings into a knot

For every last time you pack a lunch with a love note, comes the sentimental awareness that your child knew for years how special she was

For every last clap at a recital, comes the exhilaration of seeing your child accomplish a dream

For every last cheer at a sporting event, comes the gratitude for having ever been able to watch and encourage

For every last time your child asks for help with homework, comes the gratitude for his ability to figure problems out for himself

For every last time you drop your tween off, comes the first time she takes the wheel with confidence because you instilled a sense of self-worth and inner courage

For every last hug after your child receives a diploma, comes the hope-filled anticipation of his new life beginning

In the end, having a litany of lasts means we had and have a boatload of firsts. Therein lies the blessing. Twofold.

Embrace the lasts and feel the love, sweet Mommas!





Do you or a fellow Momma need some heart encouragement? Subscribe to Shelby’s monthly Grace Notes and receive 3 FREE Chapters of her new book with Lisa Leshaw, “How Are You Feeling, Momma? (You don’t need to say, “I’m fine.”) The two of them share short reflections on their perspective of 31 motherhood emotions, each tied to a specific Psalm. The cool thing is, Shelby is a Jesus groupie and Lisa is a Moses devotee!


Shelby is a Certified Emotional Intelligence Coach, Certified Meditation Teacher (CMT), author, freelance writer, speaker, and love enthusiast who is passionate about helping others ‘change the way they look at things so the things they look at change.’ She has numerous stories featured in the national publication, Guideposts. She also has over 160 featured articles at online publications, including Her View From Home, Scary Mommy, Parenting Teens & Tweens, For Every Mom, Love What Matters, and Today. Her book, How Are You Feeling, Momma? (You don’t need to say, “I’m fine.”), co-authored with her dear friend, Lisa Leshaw, recently won the 2020 Publisher’s Weekly Book Life Prize as the finalist in the Inspirational/Spiritual category.