Seeing my children go off to college was the most special, and yet the most difficult, moment in my life.
We know they're ready to spread their wings and step into the world of adulthood, but at the same time you can't help but think about the long periods of time they'll be away from you.
It's a trial that all parents must face, but one mother has a unique way of coping with the last summer she's spending with her 18-year-old twin sons before they head off to school.
Heather Duckworth from Tampa, Florida posted a photo of 15 pairs of shoes on her front porch on her Facebook page "Love, Faith, & Chaos."
She titled the heartwarming post as "The 18th Summer." To her surprise, the post has gotten more than 80,000 shares!
The mother of four said she came home after a long day and noticed that her front porch was filled with shoes, a clear sign that she has a house full of kids.
"These shoes mean there is probably no food left in my house. These shoes mean noise and chaos and laughter and music. It means there are probably kids lounging on my sofa, floating in my pool, playing air hockey or watching a movie somewhere. These shoes mean that we are the designated hang-out house today," she wrote.
At first this post sounded like a rant that every parent has with their kid, but then it took an unexpected turn.
"I paused outside of my door and felt a wave of sadness wash over me as I looked at these shoes ... They say you only have 18 summers with your kids. I am on number 18 with mine. This realization tugs at my heart and makes me wonder how 18 summers went by so quickly."
Duckworth felt a wave of emotion at the sight of those shoes, knowing that after this summer, "things will never be the same again."
"This is a bittersweet part of parenthood . . . this transition from having them home to watching them leave. My head knows this is a good thing, but my heart . . . it just hurts."
She knows that these shoes will be "scattered across different college campuses" and that "all of these shoes might not find their way back home next summer as life takes them on new adventures," but that's okay.
"I don’t want the sadness of what is to come to take away the happiness of today ... [F]or now, I will embrace these shoes and I will be so thankful for them," Duckworth wrote.
So for the time being, the mother will continue to live like she always has.
"I will buy all the snacks. I will welcome these kids into my home and let them crash on my couches. I will soak up the sounds of their laughter and I will make them clean up all of their messes. I will pray that everyone drives home safely and I will love having a full house."
She ended her post by saying, "I am going to treasure this summer of the shoes . . . Because I know that all too soon those shoes will be running off exploring the world . . . and my porch will be empty."
The Post Struck A Chord With Many Parents
Here's what a few Facebook users had to say:
"Can't stop crying on the 18th summer."
"How lucky are the owners of those shoes, to have you and your welcoming porch."
"In a blink of an eye, the noise, commotion, even the drama is gone. I knew by checking shoes who was home with our kids. Cherish these days, they go by so fast."
"My children are in their mid to late 30s but I recall those shoes from being small shoes to shoes that resembled little boats as these kids grew but remained friends. I felt sad too as those shoes grew less in number as kids went off in different directions of life. Eventually my ‘kids’ also left to live on their own. For some, the circle goes on with grand children."
Share this post if you can relate!
[H/T: Fox News]