So I was moping last night.

Not because anything was wrong, but because Adam was asked to a dance—his first—and attended Homecoming with a girl named Trisha. He said it was no big deal, that they were going as a group and that it wasn’t really a date.

Whether or not I buy that is beside the point, and doesn’t matter; he’s old enough to go on a date, of course. What I was moping about was that I missed a first.

I’ve been there for all my kids’ firsts; in fact, I created jobs so that I could be with them and not miss any of the milestones moms wax nostalgic about in later years. First word, first step, first lost tooth, first day of school…you name it, I was there. For someone who never thought she wanted to be a mother, I sure enjoy bearing witness to these little humans growing up.

But now, 16 years since I became a mom, I’ve missed a first. And while I was excited for him, I was sad for me. We talked wardrobe and etiquette and most other things on the phone, but I didn’t get to see that awkward first pose for pictures, or wave him away as they left for the dance.

I didn’t get to ‘coincidentally’ be up and eager to see him come home after, hoping that he’d give me at least a tidbit about how the night went. I settled for a text message at curfew, which he didn’t have to send but did. He’s a good egg, my guy.

As I went about my business last night, washing dishes and hugging my two younger kids, I thought about how this transition goes. I’ve long thought that it’s my job to be a parent, not a friend, to my kids. Now I find myself in this dual role of sorts, at least with my oldest; still a parent, but removed enough that it’s his choice to let me into his world or not. I suppose that’s the case with everyone, no matter what age our kids leave our homes. But it’s a transition I wasn’t prepared for.

As I look at my two younger kiddos, I’m still resolute that they need me to be a mom. But as they grow, and as their worlds get bigger and their experiences expand, I hope that I figure out that balancing act between being their mom and being someone they still want to share their unending list of ‘firsts’ with.

In the meantime, I’ll hope that pictures are taken and shared, and be content with knowing that I’ve experienced a ‘first’ of my own, because I now understand that old saying by Elizabeth Stone: “making the decision to have a child – it’s momentous. It is to decide forever to have your heart go walking outside your body.”