When I Realized I Might Not Get to See My Kids Grow Up


when you won't see your kids grow up

Have you ever contemplated your children growing up without you? You know them like no one else knows them. You know what mood they wake up in, which sippy cup they can currently wrangle, how to translate their clear-to-you words that no one else can understand, and what makes them feel nervous and uneasy. You know the minute details that makes them tick like no one else.

But, what if your time on this earth is up?

When my mini men were 2 and 5 years old, I woke up one morning and my body was different. I couldn’t feel sensations in my hands, stomach, or feet. Soon, I couldn’t feel my legs, and my arms felt like they had prickly electric currents running incessantly on an endless loop. Each day that passed, I lost feeling in more of my body. My body was slowly turning off. Multiple Sclerosis was the front runner diagnosis, but a brain tumor was also in the mix. And there I laid in a hospital bed with more questions than answers as I faced the reality that the community of people in my life might be the ones who got to see my children grow up, not me.

My outlook on parenting took a 180 degree turn from a unintentional white-knuckle grip on “I have to be a great mom” to a highly intentional “They need to be prepared for launch.”

It didn’t matter anymore if I was a great mom; it mattered if they were equipped to thrive. Parenting, in my mind, switched from being about me and my success at it to being about them and their benefit from it. My sudden, mysterious illness opened my eyes to the pure luxury it is to get to be around to witness your own children grow up. Guiding, teaching, and equipping the mini men in how to engage and launch into the world around them with confidence became my daily goal because I literally didn’t know how long I’d get to pour my life into them.

I share this thin slice of my story with you so in the privacy of your mind you can ponder how your parenting might shift or adjust if you knew you might not get to see your children grow up. What would you want to impart to them? Would you get frazzled as easily by the daily grind? How can you embrace their today as if you aren’t guaranteed tomorrow with them? What might you omit from their current reality? How would you approach the discussion of mortality?  What might you add to their frame of reference? What would you devote more time to?

Chase after pouring your life into your children. Every day matters. Every day is a gift. Every moment you have with your children is precious because you are together. Every lesson, fact, and detail you add to their frame of reference impacts how they understand and relate to the world around them. Teach them. Guide them. Equip them. Don’t wait.

The mini men are now 7 and 10 years old, and I’m grateful to be thriving alongside them continuing to prepare them to daily launch into the world around them.


  1. This is so accurate. 20 years ago, when my first two were 3 & 4 the radiologist found a 10 cm tumor &, long story short, the words stage 4 ovarian cancer were uttered. I started my mother’s journal right then. Surgery found nothing. Not even something else. Just absolutely nothing. My surgeon was furious, my husband & I high fived, & realizing that I cannot control everything that happens to me I continued my journal “just in case”.

  2. This hits close to home, I’ve been thinking this and feeling this for two years now as I battle the most aggressive rare beast cancer. It had to be the one with the lowest survival rate. I think about it constantly, every min of every day. Everything had changed. Everything I do I am questioning, and I can’t stop wondering who will wipe their tears when they cry, hold them when they are scared, and love them as deeply as I do. I am haunted when I hear them crying for me, imagining what it would be like for my husband when that happens but mommy doesn’t come. It’s gut wrenching.

    I’ve started to plan, I want to prepare them, I want to leave special things behind. But the thought is overwhelming. I want to be there for them even when I am gone. Life can be beautiful and painful and heartbreaking all at the same time. Thank you for sharing.


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