My youngest turned eighteen this week, and I have to admit I’m a little emotional about it. Usually, I don’t get emotional about milestone birthdays or events.

I didn’t cry when my children were born or when they took their first steps. When we finally threw out the crib that all of them had slept in, I did a little happy dance. By baby six, that poor crib was held together by duct tape and prayer. Lots and lots of prayer.

All this is to say that despite writing deeply emotional books, I don’t think I’m an overly emotional person.

Yet, the other day, when the song “There Goes my Life” by Kenny Chesney came on the radio, I sat at the stoplight in my car, fighting back tears. My throat clogged, and I had to think about something else, like should we switch to Geico? Would that really save us money?

Thinking about our insurance needs didn’t work, of course. That Kenny Chesney is a sneaky one, always singing songs that make you cry. (If you’re looking for a good cry, just watch the video for “There Goes my Life” or “Don’t Blink”)

I kept picturing Sarah as a little baby and a little kid. I kept remembering all the cute things she used to say and do.

I remembered how she hugged me so hard when I finished my first book and said, “Good job, Mom! Good job!”

When she was five, she loved shimmering up the door jam, touching the ceiling, and jumping to the floor. She must’ve done that a thousand times. On the 1001st time, she landed wrong and broke three bones in her foot. She was so tough, she didn’t cry. In fact, she loves to remind us that we didn’t realize her foot was broken until several hours later. But seriously, she just didn’t complain about it.

Wearing a honking cast on her leg did absolutely nothing to slow her down. The very next day, she was climbing trees, jumping on the trampoline, and riding her bike barefoot. And laughing. Man, that girl laughed ALL the time. Just hearing her laugh put me in such a good mood.

Now she’s eighteen and a little more reserved. She’s still spunky and has a wonderful laugh. I’m so proud of her and can’t wait to see what God has planned for her future.

But how in the world can she possibly be eighteen? This time next year, she’ll be gone at college. Joe and I will officially be empty nesters.

For the past twenty-six years, I’ve been a full-time stay-at-home/writer mom. My baby turning eighteen feels like a screeching halt at the end of a long, fulfilling, sometimes exhausting career.

I know everything is going to be fine. I actually adore my adult kids so much. I love listening to them talk about their jobs, life, and school. I love that my husband and I can take a step back from active parenting.

Still…eighteen! What’s a mom supposed to do with that?

Happy Birthday, Sarah!