Sometimes we stumble upon the things that make all the difference. While shopping with a friend, I saw a necklace with a gold outline of a leaf. To my delight, the leaf concealed a quotation by Emily Dickinson, “That it will never come again is what makes life so sweet.” I left the shop with the necklace securely fastened around my neck.

At that point in my life, my family had just moved to South Carolina, and I chose to be the full-time at-home parent. I wanted to use that first year to help my four-year-old daughter prepare for kindergarten. I knew she needed to participate in a preschool program as well as pursue speech therapy. Also my youngest daughter was just eighteen months old, and I wanted to keep her close during her toddler years. When I made the decision to be full-time at-home, I didn’t know I would need a daily dose of comfort and hope. This is where the necklace came in.

You have heard it said of mothers that the “days are long but the years are short.” I am here to tell you the days are long. The hardest part of my role was the constant interruptions. I could not unload the dishwasher without filling a sippy cup, locating a lost crayon, or helping settle a squabble. I felt like I couldn’t think because I never got to complete a thought. My fingers would reach for the necklace, and I would remind myself, “This is only a season of your life. That it only comes once makes it sweet.”

Then there were the moments of sheer joy. Watching Audrey swing as high as she could and then squeal, “Momma. Look Me!” Or clapping with delight as Eve made her first clear /k/ sound. Hearing her say, “cookie” rather than “tookie.” Seeing the triumph in her eyes were magical. In those moments, my fingers would travel to the necklace, and I would remember, “The girls are only four and two once. I am so lucky to be here for these moments.”

Instinctively, I purchased the necklace knowing it spoke to me in some way. I had no idea that I would count on it as a physical reminder of comfort and hope during a year of transition. And now, I am in another year of transition.

Audrey is a kindergartener, and Eve is a third grader. I am no longer the parent of preschoolers.  I am the parent of school aged kids. Again, my role is in transition. Robert Wicks in Snow Falling on Snow suggests choosing a word to live with during transition. As 2012 begins, I am discerning my word. I want a word that is multifaceted, intrigues me enough to hold onto it for a year, and connects with my journey. Of course I would love to discern the word in a moment of clarity, but as often happens, I expect to stumble upon it.

Tammy Abee Blom is an ordained Baptist minister, regular contributor to BWIM’s blog, mother of two amazing daughters, teacher for children’s Sunday School, and lives in Columbia, South Carolina.