Let's cherish today.

Daughter is a junior. In high school.

I am having trouble processing this information. It really doesn’t make any sense at all. This is summer #17 of 18. This summer we are visiting colleges, seriously talking grades, SAT, ACT, life after mom’s and dad’s house. It really is happening. Guys, I can’t find my breath. This is almost too much for mommas to comprehend.

But, yet, we do. We do get it and, somehow, we set our girls free to conquer the adult world. When I look at the moms who have done this before, they tell me the only way to send our girls out to the world is to take it one day at a time: Stay very present in as much of her life as you can because this is it; tomorrow is here. They tell me you can’t guarantee what will happen after the moment will pass but, if you can stay present in as many moments as possible, the dwindling stay-at-home years will seem to slow down just a bit because life moves so fast and is so unpredictable.

Last week — our first week of summer — this point was driven home with enough force to knock down my daughter and me. You see, one of her dearest friends unexpectedly lost her mother this past week and it has been emotionally challenging for me to leave my daughter’s side.

At the service for this lovely soul, I watched my daughter’s friend. I watched her sit in silence and be present as she observed the events of her mother’s funeral unfolding around her. As I watched her stoic face during the service. I could feel my heart — the heart of a momma — pulling apart.

I understand she is learning that she has to say things like “I need to ask my dad” instead of “I need to ask my parents.” I understand she is learning that, while she used to be able to text her mom if she needed anything, now she no longer can send her mother texts. I wondered if that momma in heaven was watching the women at the service and praying that one of them would take her daughter in her arms and watch over her. A 16-year-old girl losing her mother in summer #17 of 18 seems so unfair. Later that night I told my family we will have a family day at least once a week. We will be present. We will look at each other, love on each other, help each other stay grounded in the moment. Life is so incredibly fragile. We can’t guarantee we will be here next summer and we can’t control what tomorrow brings, but we can be present.

Those moms who already have sent their babies off to college were right: Just appreciate the moment you are in — especially during the summer, when life is slow. As your daughter sleeps in her bed, sneak another look; who cares if she is 17? When your daughter is on a date, fall asleep on the couch and, when she comes home, be ready to make popcorn and talk about the date, the movie she saw, or whatever she will share with you. If she is home while you work, take a long lunch break and have her meet you at a restaurant (teens love free food).

This summer, just be present. Yes, it is hard, especially when you work, but the future is not guaranteed, so let’s cherish the gift of today.