The sight of small, green daffodil shoots stopped me in surprise this week.

This happens every year at this time; spring seems to jump out of nowhere. One day snow is still melting and then there they are, those tender little shoots poking up to remind me that they've been there all winter, struggling to grow and push their way toward the sunlight.

After crouching to marvel at those hearty little daffodils, I then noticed that the trees are budding. Although they have a ways to go, each tree is adorned with small buds that will soon sprout leaves and berries.

It seems as though this happened overnight. By the time I noticed the harbingers of spring, it's already here. The bulbs are growing, the buds are popping and the birds have migrated back.

I couldn't help but compare the sudden arrival of spring to my own life with my two little girls. One of my daughters will soon be 4 years old and the other is just barely 8 months. And just like those first signs of spring took me by surprise, so do my daughters.

My eldest daughter, for example, started spelling some words this week — a feat I didn't teach her nor even know she was capable of quite yet. I felt just like I did looking at those daffodil shoots — where did that come from? How long has that been growing without me even noticing?

I feel like that more and more these days as I watch my daughters grow and bloom in ways that I can't control and wouldn't want to stop.

I'm also struck this year by the thought that much of the work to bring forth those spring and summertime blossoms is done long before the green leaves peak out of the soil.

The bulbs were planted in the fall. The soil was tilled and nourished long before the spring. And when the flowers blossom or the fruit appears, it's too late to go back and spend the time to care for the seedlings. The season has passed.

It's all part of the seasons of life. If you wait to till and plant until harvest time, you've missed it. The work has to be done now to reap the rewards later.

That is why I often see gardeners out there in the early spring tending to their burgeoning plants.

They set up walls of water to protect fragile tomato plants. They monitor pests and irrigate roots. They are truly invested in their gardens as they work to give their flowers or vegetables every chance to reach their full potential.

I like to think I am in the spring of my life. I'm tending to my garden of girls — helping them grow, making sure they have the love and support they need to grow into women.

This is the time. This is my season.

This is not my season to focus on my career or myself. This is not my season to rest, or even to prepare for motherhood. That has passed.

This is the season to enjoy my children while working hard to raise them well. This is my season to teach them, to love them and to create unbreakable family bonds.

I cherish this springtime of my life. I know it will pass all too quickly and I won't be able to go back to this time and place. It's a moment unique in time.

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Even though the work is hard and some days I wonder if I'm even doing anything right, I know this season is critical — albeit fleeting.

And just like that first miraculous daffodil pops open in the springtime, my girls will blossom unexpectedly one day.

When that moment comes, I can only hope I've used this season wisely to shower time and love on my little garden.

Erin Stewart is a regular blogger for the Deseret News. From stretch marks to the latest news for moms, Stewart discusses it all while her 4-year-old daughter crams Mr. Potato Head pieces in her little sister's nose.

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