Parents love when their kids have friends over, but aren’t always as fond of the messes left behind. Hearing the laughter from the living room or the banter from the basement warms a mom’s heart.

However, sometimes it can be overwhelming when your house is the one where everyone loves to crash. Sweeping up the crumbs, washing a pile of towels, baking an endless stream of pizza, tripping over extra shoes, not to mention the empty fridge and cupboards once a hungry group of kids have their way.

Flickr/andersbknudsen

Heather Duckworth of Love, Faith & Chaos is a mom who understands those feelings all too well. She shared on Facebook that many parents have only 18 summers with their kids and as the end of her 18th summer with her teens draws to a close, she began feeling differently about those piles of shoes she found strewn about her front porch.

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“These shoes are a sure sign that it is summer and school is out. 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.”

Facebook/Love, Faith & Chaos

But one day, she paused before perusing past the pile of shoes and felt a wave of sadness wash over her. The kids to whom those shoes belong had been hanging out at her house for four years now.

They are kids who have played sports with hers, who have been in the same classes dating all the way back to elementary school, kids she has watched grow up with her own. But those shoes will be going different directions come fall, a melancholy thought she didn’t welcome.

“Big changes are happening around here – for me and all these kids in my house. My heart knows it and feels it and that’s why the sight of these shoes has me feeling a little sentimental. I know 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.”
Seeing those shoes means her kids are home. It means Heather knows where they are at, who they are with and that everyone is safe under her roof.

Yet those shoes won’t be there much longer. Soon, those shoes will be kicked off in dorm rooms across the country as the kids to whom they belong take their first big steps into adulthood.

“And I know that all of these shoes might not find their way back home next summer as life takes them on new adventures. These thoughts hang over my head like a dark cloud . . . trying to steal the joy from the present moments. I shake my head, trying to force those wistful feelings away. I don’t want the sadness of what is to come to take away the happiness of today. But I am finding that I have to remind myself of that often during this 18th summer because every moment seems bittersweet.”

Facebook/Love, Faith & Chaos

For now, Heather said she will “embrace these shoes and I will be so thankful for them.” She will immerse herself in every last minute before her beloveds spread their wings and leave the nest.

“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. But most of all, I will do my best to choose happiness and joy for this moment right now and not let that dark cloud of sadness swallow me up. Because this moment right now . . . it is really good.”
Before Heather helps her college-bound kids pack and embark upon an exciting adventure, she will “treasure this summer of the shoes.” Because all too soon, the shoes will be gone and her porch, sadly, will be empty.

Since writing her touching post – it’s gone viral and been shared more than 100,000 times.

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