Years ago, when I was a new mom carrying my baby boy around town, complete strangers would sometimes stop me to say hello and then advise me, "Kids grow up so fast. Enjoy them while you can." Then they would tell me about their teenagers or grown children.

At that time, with my first newborn, I had trouble believing that Preston would be growing up "so fast." Days would drag on and on, and nights seemed especially long. I was so anxious for Preston to reach milestones. I wanted him to start talking and walking and feeding himself.

But as I sent Preston, 8, and Griffin, 5, off to their first day of school a few weeks ago, I was struck by how fast time is flying by. Didn't we just start summer break? How can the baby of our family be a kindergartner now?

I know Griffin is ready to spend all day at school, eat lunch with his friends, then do some homework. I know that my boys need to grow and take on new challenges. But I can't help but be a little sad and wish for time to pass more slowly.

I feel that as each year goes by, I am needed less. With both of them in school all day, we spend fewer hours together. If I want to, I can drop off Preston at soccer practice and pick him up when it is over. Griffin happily goes without me to friends' homes for play dates.

I'm dreading the day when my boys won't want to hold my hand or kiss me in public. I'm not looking forward to being called "Mom" instead of "Mommy." I don't want the day to come when I can't volunteer in their classrooms or help them with their homework.

My husband encourages me to look on the bright side. Life with Preston and Griffin has gotten a little easier over the past couple of years. The boys shower and dress themselves. If they wake up in the morning before we are awake, they can entertain themselves and get some breakfast.

We can leave them with a babysitter and not worry, and we have had more time to spend with each other and with our friends.

I know time will not slow down, so I have decided to focus on the second part of what those strangers told me years ago: "Enjoy them while you can."

E-mail Kelley Helfand at