05/01/2012 11:49 am ET Updated Jul 01, 2012

From One Mother to Another -- Children Are Only Children for Eighteen Years

As I stand at the front door to my house watching my children blow dandelions weeds and imagining them spreading all over our yard, I am reminded of a brief statement my mother-in-law said to me in passing. "Children are only children for eighteen years." I can't believe my baby is almost six.

When I am going through the everyday tasks of dressing, feeding, making meals, dropping off, picking up, volunteering, shopping, cleaning, planning, screaming, refereeing and every other chore that makes raising children seem like a life sentence instead of a finite amount of time, I try to remember this statement.

"Children are only children for eighteen years." When I put it into prospective as it relates to my own life, I've lived two childhoods. Compared to the length of time I have been married, I would have a teenager and, in the amount of time I have been out of high school, I could have a child who is the legal drinking age.

Children have such a short time to be kids and we, as parents, have even less until they don't need us anymore. So for now, let them be themselves. Let them get dirty, play in their good clothes, need hugs on demand, want to be held, cuddle up in bed, sneak snacks from the pantry, jump on the couch, read by flashlight, not want to go to sleep and display all the childish behaviors that come along with being a kid as hard as it is. Give them a free pass without telling them to act their age because, frankly, they ARE.

I never realized how fast time went by until I became a parent watching my children grow up right before my eyes. We can never get those years back. Before we know it, their childhood is gone and what we are left with are fading memories. BUT... if we are one of the lucky ones, what they are left with are the lasting impressions that a loving, memorable childhood leave in their minds and hearts.