Twenty-one years ago this week I became a mom. Nothing prepares you for the adventure. It is the hardest and most beautiful job I have ever done.

A few lessons I learned along the way are that the days are long, but the years are short. You have sixteen summers to build a memory bank that earns the most valuable, lifelong dividends. Choose your battles. Each child has a unique journey intertwined with interests and fears and gifts. They arrive that way and it is an honour to travel alongside them as they become what they always were. One of a kind.

I can’t help remembering my three kids buckled into the van as we headed to elementary school. I would start sentences that they would finish. “Believe in…” “yourself.” “Choose your friends…” “wisely.” “Everyone makes mistakes…” “what you do after a mistake makes it better or worse.” Then they would jump out of the van in the drop off zone like little Navy Seals and I would smile as my heart bounded away draped in colourful backpacks. And you never know when it’s the last time. The last school drop off. The last time you need to tie their hockey skates before the game. Or help with their costume at a dance competition. The last time everyone is together at the dinner table. Or at a cabin by the lake.

You only have sixteen summers. But I’d do it all over again to have the connection I have with three wonderful, brave, kind young people who know they will always have a soft place to fall. And someone cheering on the sidelines for whatever story they choose to write for themselves.

The days are long, but the years are short. And I wouldn’t change a thing.