Every once in a while, the whole kids-get-bigger phenomenon smacks you upside the head as a parent.

I don’t mean growing out of their clothes — the pants that fit last week and don’t now — that’s pretty constant. I mean those sudden realizations that your kids aren’t little any more.

It could be when they first learn to feed themselves — “Oh, my baby is a toddler!”

Or it could be when the note comes home about puberty education day at school. “Mom, you’ll sign that form to excuse me, right?? It’s going to be so EMBARRASING!!” (For the record, no, I didn’t.)

Or it could be when you realize how little time is actually left before they leave home.

Now, I realize I probably sound melodramatic. But as this school year ends and I look ahead, I realize there are only a handful of more years before the kids graduate high school. That means college tuition. It means they’ll have to be getting jobs (probably before graduation) and summers will no longer be planned according to parental work and time off schedules.

I’ve always wanted to take the kids out West: to show them Yellowstone National Park, the Grand Tetons, Mount Rushmore, the Grand Canyon and more. When they were very small, we didn’t think they’d remember anything.

They’re bigger now. But driving cross-country takes time and money, and we’ve ever set aside enough of either to take the trip.

I feel like I’m running out of time. I’ve got six years before my son graduates high school … and, most likely, at least part of those six years I assume he’ll be working in the summers.

I’d love to pick a date (read: year) and say, “This is when we’ll go, then.” We may sit down and attempt to figure out how we can make it happen. The realities of available time and finances may pose obstacles. Other obligations certainly will, too.

Summer vacation has begun for 2015. The clock’s ticking. We do carve out time each summer to spend solely with the kids, whether it’s going someplace exciting and new or simply camping and “getting away from it all.”

I know not everybody can afford to go away, but I wish all parents would make time to do what they can … one of the vacations my brother and I remember the best was the week we spent camping in the woods behind our house. My mom couldn’t get off work, so she camped after work each night, but my brother and I spent the whole week outside the house.

I have to remember it’s the time with my kids that counts. If I’m able, I’d like to show them Yellowstone, but if I’m not, I’ll still get lots of memories.