Last Updated on February 28, 2024

Almost a year ago I listened to an interview with bestselling author Karen Kingsbury, in which she shared the story behind a poem I’ve posted below. (The poem is actually from her children’s book by the same title.)

As a young, fatigued mother, I was very moved by these words, which have reminded me in a new way of something I’m always hearing but only slowly experiencing: Your kids’ childhood will fly, so enjoy every minute. Or as I’ve heard author and speaker Tim Kimmel say, the days (and nights, I would add!) are long, but the years are short.

Let Me Hold You Longer

By Karen Kingsbury

Long ago you came to me,

a miracle of firsts:

First smiles and teeth and baby steps,

a sunbeam on the burst.

But one day you will move away

and leave to me your past,

And I will be left thinking of

a lifetime of your lasts . . .

The last time that I held a bottle

to your baby lips.

The last time that I lifted you

and held you on my hip.

The last night when you woke up crying,

needing to be walked,

When last you crawled up with your blanket

wanting to be rocked.

The last time when you ran to me,

still small enough to hold.

The last time that you said you’d marry

me when you grew old.

Precious, simple moments and

bright flashes from your past –

Would I have held on longer if

I’d known they were your last?

Our last adventure to the park,

your final midday nap,

The last time when you wore your favorite

faded baseball cap.

Your last few hours of kindergarten,

those last days of first grade.

Your last at bat in Little League,

last colored picture made.

I never said good-bye to all

your yesterdays long passed.

So what about tomorrow –

will I recognize your lasts?

The last time that you catch a frog

in that old backyard pond.

The last time that you run barefoot

across our fresh-cut lawn.

Silly, scattered images

will represent your past.

I keep on taking pictures,

never quite sure of your lasts . . .

The last time that I comb your hair

or stop a pillow fight.

The last time that I pray with you

and tuck you in at night.

The last time when we cuddle

with a book, just me and you.

The last time you jump in our bed

and sleep between us two.

The last piano lesson,

last vacation to the lake.

Your last few weeks of middle school

last soccer goal you make.

I look ahead and dream of days

that haven’t come to pass.

But as I do, I sometimes miss

today’s sweet, precious lasts . . .

The last time that I help you with

a math or spelling test.

The last time when I shout that yes,

your room is still a mess.

The last time that you need me for

a ride from here to there.

The last time that you spend the night

with your old tattered bear.

My life keeps moving faster,

stealing precious days that pass.

I want to hold on longer –

want to recognize your lasts . . .

The last time that you need my help

with details of a dance.

The last time that you ask me for

advice about romance.

The last time that you talk to me

about your hopes and dreams.

The last time that you wear a jersey

for your high school team.

I’ve watched you grow and barely noticed

seasons as they pass.

If I could freeze the hands of time,

I’d hold on to your lasts.

For come some bright fall morning,

you’ll be going far away.

College life will beckon

in a brilliant sort of way.

One last hug, one last good-bye,

one quick and hurried kiss.

One last time to understand

just how much you’ll be missed.

I’ll watch you leave and think how fast

our time together passed.

Let me hold on longer, God, to every precious last.

(c) 2004 by Karen Kingsbury, Tyndale House Publishers.

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  1. Thank you for posting this…. and thank you for the person who shared it on Facebook.

    My daughter came to me an hour or so ago and asked me for a snuggle. I said “not tonight” because I am tired and cranky and have too much to do before bed. So I went to the kitchen and drew the water to wash the dishes. While waiting on the water I glanced at Facebook and saw this shared. I started to cry. My baby turns 6 in 3 weeks. How many more times is she going to ask me for a snuggle before bed? I turned off the water and went into her room. Thank Heaven she was still awake. I lay down beside her and after a moment of “Mommy,can you please not squeeze me so tight.” I snuggled and rocked her til she fell asleep. Tonight I know that if this was the last time she asks for a snuggle it was a good one. If this is the last time she falls asleep in my arms it will be ok. The dishes can wait til morning, my baby needed me!