Today at work, a mom told a story about how her ten-year-old daughter deleted a video from her phone that the mom had surreptitiously taken of said daughter dancing. A colleague remarked, “Well I guess she had the right to decide what video she wants of herself.”

And my answer to that is no, no she does not. Because she doesn’t understand what she is doing any more than she – at the age of ten – could understand why getting a tattoo at that age is truly a horrific idea.

A ten-year-old girl cannot understand that in the space of a few short months she will cease to exist. She cannot understand that the girl that lived and danced on that video will be gone in a few brief turns of the earth. She cannot understand the imperative, the non-negotiable need, to capture the image of that girl, because in one season’s change that girl will vanish forever.

As a child, I remember times when my parents or grandparents made wistful comments about the pretty, engaging little girl I had been. And in my inability to understand the real message behind those remarks I concluded that they were disappointed in how I had grown. Because it seemed that I was not as good, or charming, or sweet, or adorable as I had been at some mysterious younger age. After all, I was still there, wasn’t I? How could they miss the same girl that was sitting right there? So clearly the older me was something less than I had been.

Only now do I understand. Only now as I look at my fourteen-year-old son and realize that my fourteen-year-old son isn’t the same creature that my four-month-old, four-year-old or thirteen-and-a-half year old son was, does the truth behind their remarks make itself known to me. Those children are gone – vanished. And I miss them so, so much. It is not a question of being disappointed in the person my son is now – he amazes me daily and my pride is a physical thing. But he is not those little boys. He is something entirely different. And his incredible presence in my life now does not preclude my missing the boy-who-was-but-is-no-more.

It is in the difficulty of bringing to my mind his smallness, his tender skin and the peach-flesh feel of his hands in mine that I can appreciate the bittersweet sound of the voices of the adults in my life as they recalled the Lori-that-used-to-be. It is in the amnesia I experience when I try to remember the feel of the weight of his body in my arms, and the feeling of his toddler-self melting against my chest as I woke him from naps that I realize that I have joined the elders of my tribe as they grieve the loss of their small children even as they welcome the young adults they have become.

I have only one child of my body. My stepchildren are parts of my heart, there is no denying. They have given me the gift of a variety of mothering that can only be known by people who have parented more than one child’s spirit. But they were not part of my life until they were 10 and 12. I did not have the small-child experience with them. And so those memories – those physical sensations of children small enough to wrap your arms around in protectiveness, of weight limp against your shoulder, those images of light bending, melting around a cheek of infinite softness – those were not mine to have with my beautiful step-children. Those moments were mine only once, and now…they are gone.

I look at the photos and videos and I wish I had more. A million times more. But I was busy – parenting, feeding, teaching, modeling, playing, laughing, building. And when my son was eight, I started over, ever watchful that the bitter, angry taste of I-did-this-once-already never flavored the world he lived in. There was only so much time – I could drag out the camera, or I could read him the book. I could film the Lego construction site, or I could help with the building.

And I did not understand, even then, how brief his time on this earth would be – the baby, the toddler, the child no taller than my hip, the little boy who still asked for cuddles. Maybe if I had understood I would have sacrificed just a little of the doing in favor of capturing his existence more thoroughly. So that now, as I realize that eye-to-eye means that I tilt my head up, as his voice descends into more manly registers and his interests evolve into wonderful constructs that do not include me, that the little boy will be just a little bit closer, and a little bit easier to see.

He has no idea. He cannot yet. He scowls when I break out the camera and tries to avoid it when I’m taking pictures. But I am much more determined, now that I understand what time will do. For as much as I miss the little boy when I look at the teenager, I know I will ache, in all my body, for the teenager, once he becomes a man.


Filed under Musings and Memories

109 Responses to Used-To-Be’s

  1. I read this with my breath held: lovely post. You captured so beautifully the intangibles of watching a child grow and change.

    I forget to document what’s going on around my kitchen table, the upstairs hallway, the boys’ bathroom (!), the third row of my car….

    Wonder how it will go over when I break out the camera at dinner time?

  2. Oh, and another thing.

    The Used-to-Be could also refer to me (or you) as a mother and, importantly, person. I feel like when I look through my digital (and not) albums that there are hardly any photos of me. While on the face of it that’s ok with me, it occurs to me that the overriding memories my children will have of me will be whatever their personal memories are….and nothing documented for posterity in an “impartial” way like a photo snapshot in time.

    I’m not the person I was — I’d love to talk with her again and chart the differences — and I’m not the person I’ll be tomorrow or next week or next year. (And we know I’m not talking about those +/- 5 lbs or chin hairs.)

    I gotta find someone to turn the camera on me….

    • Oh…what a good thought.

      I certainly notice that I’m not IN many of the photos, because I am taking most of them.

      But I forget, since my changes are not as marked as the kids’, that I am still changing some…

      And when I’m 60 I may regret not having a better way to remember the me that I was at 42.

  3. Do you know how hard it is to make me cry? Just beautiful.

  4. Wow. This is an amazing post. While my son is only 4 (nearly 5…), I so understand this. People told me to appreciate the time I had with him as an infant & I was like “yeah…ok…” But as he grew older? I understood why.

    And now? I try to cherish every moment I have to spend with him, because I know the cuddly little boy who adores his mommy? Will grow and grow & won’t want his mommy around so much & won’t want to sit & snuggle up next to his mommy to watch a movie.

    Argh. Now I’m all teary. See what you did with your beautiful post??? *sniff*

    • Each day – especially when it was filled with crying, teething, toddler-tantrums, away-from-the-boy-while-I-worked grief – seemed so LONG that I completely failed to appreciate that as a whole they would fly by faster than I could breathe…

      Have a tissue?

  5. KLZ

    I look so forward to getting to know the person Alex will be and seeing and enjoying him.

    But I wept bitter tears the night before his 1st birthday because I could not remember the weight of him in my arms on the day he was born. And I wondered how much more I’d forget.

    I love this moment we’re in. But I miss that other with a longing I can’t explain at the same time.

    • All those memories seemed so sharply etched that I was SURE I’d hold on to those moments for decades…

      And yet…as more and more memories built on top of them, they faded.

      And I wish I had a 3-D multi-sensory machine so I could just…feel…them again.

  6. Your posts, where you reminisce about your child’s younger years, are some of my favorites.

    Even with Boy Wonder being only 7, I already forget, and yet, have all-too-fleeting glimpses of who he was.

    Sometimes it’s in how he smiles, or, with his head bent toward the ground, looks up with only his eyes. Sometimes it’s in how he sleeps, or lets out a belly laugh.

    A little piece of Baby Boy Wonder is always there.

  7. This is an amazing post. I’ve talked about my “Secret Sadness of being a Mom” on my blog before – and this is a more lovely expression of that. Sometimes I feel like this is the main trigger of my PTSD – that I cannot stop time. That I can’t pretend to believe that living in the moment is enough because I know that in the blink of my eye, it will be gone, could be gone, may be gone.

    Amazing post. {I’m crying, so I’m leaving.}

    • I keep reminding myself that the whole goal is to grow an a amazing person into this world. Emphasis on *grow*.

      But I still wish I could capture those moments, in all the ways the looked, felt, smelled and sounded, more vividly than I can with just the pictures or the videos. Because, yes, no matter how much I know that growing up is the celebration of the child I brought into this world, I miss that little child who is gone.

      Sorry for the crying. Here’s a tissue. Come back when there are zombies in the laundry or I have painted a wall the wrong color. No crying then. (Well, other than MINE.)

  8. So beautiful, Lori.

    I am one of those mothers who doesn’t look forward to the next stage with my children. I don’t dream about them walking, running, starting school, growing and changing. I am always trying to hold on to *this* moment.

    Because I know that I will blink and the time will have passed, without my wishing it to.

    I pray that I memorize these small moments with them…

    Thank you for this post this morning. It was so lovely and beautifully written.

    • Thank you dear one.

      I was always conflicted – it was almost impossible to not “compete” with my friends’ babies…yet, I didn’t want to rush!! NO…you’re not walking yet! HEY! STOP THAT PUTTING ON YOUR OWN CLOTHES.

      Truly, he’s lucky he doesn’t need therapy.

  9. liz

    first, i love that you added to your stories with photos. second, i love the “cookie cake.” third, i find myself making a point to snuggle and rock maddie before bed when i never did that with kate. i know she won’t always be able to sit on me like that.

    • I remember…remember…the last time Child A asked me for a cuddle.

      Because…it was the last time, and I wondered if it might be…

      Take all the cuddles you can get.

  10. Hand me the damn tissues.

    And yes, you knocked this one out of the park and like an arrow into our hearts. Darn you.

    My husband always says that I’ll miss this, this HORRIBLE twos. And I know he’s right because I miss the delicious intimacy I had with my infant daughter.
    Thanks for bringing that back to me!

    • You are lovely, you. Thank you.

      Here are some tissues.

      And yes, you will miss them later in ways that you simply do not think are possible when you are LIVING them.

  11. Darn you. Feeling teary here in Canada, because I too am feeling that this passage of time is going far too quickly. But I still have a seven year old, and I needed to be reminded. Thank you for this post. I am saving it to read, when I start to forget to listen to her while looking into her eyes.
    Thank you Lori,
    PS I’m already thinking about how great it will be to be a grandma and have those soft little bodies to hold. Crazy I know.

    • I’m gonna run out of tissues here…

      I miss 7. At 7 he still wanted cuddles.

      At 14, he is done with that.

      Yes, grandchildren someday…who will be happy to be cuddled.


  12. This is the kind of stuff I pretend not to think about for fear of being a miserable mess.
    Are you having a bday today at your house?

    • No, no birthdays just now (well, Himself’s, but that doesn’t count.)

      Just thinking about that little girl deleting the video and being heartbroken for her mom.

      It’s so hard to remember to TAKE the darned videos…let alone have one that the mom loved so much erased.


  13. This is beautiful! Sometimes I look at photos of my sons as babies and toddlers and it hurts so bad that I can’t hold them one more time at that age, to be able to pick them up and cuddle their pudgy little bodies again, to hear their little lisps as they try to tell me ‘fings’. Havoc will be 8 in a few days and as always around this time I sit and make myself bring up as many sensory memories as I can of him from birth forward because I fear losing those.

    • I was SURE I’d never forget them.

      I have an amazing memory. And those memories were so important!

      But…so many other things kept filling my head. Those sharp illustrations were dulled by all the new things.

      Like permission slips and lunch-food requirements.

      Like I need to remember THOSE.

  14. And I’m crying! I love this beautiful post, Lori.

    I keep saying that I’ll never miss the baby stage – that I can’t wait for the twins to be Tater’s age and less work. But after reading this, it reminded me that I’m already missing certain parts of the baby stage…the late night feedings (the only alone one-on-one time I had with them during the day), the first smiles…so many things.

    I’m including this in my Saturday favs post.

  15. I think everyone who reads this will leave with tears. I try to remember how fleeting it all is, how quickly they grow. I know I have learned to appreciate my 20 month old go through sleepless nights more than I cared for them when my 4 year old was little, that I try to hold them a little more while I can. Such a beautiful post!

  16. Must… not… cry… at work….

  17. I have been having some temper tantrum, anger and just out bad behavior going on lately. I have been overwelmed, and over stressed.

    your post just brought me down, and while I sit here crying my little eyeballs out, because I don’t want my babies to grow up, I don’t want to miss all these special moments I have with them. They’ll never be like this again. I am going to stop being so over stressed and just enjoy my babies.

    Amazing post Lori, I love it so very much.

    • Yes, just enjoy.

      I mean, there’s still the disciplining and the teaching and the behavior shaping and all that…

      But if you do all that? A few years from now you’ll have wonderful little mini-people.

      So once it’s over let it go.

      And then soak up all the love there is.

      Love multiplies.

  18. What a beautiful post. Really. I never had children (just wasn’t meant to be for me) but I can still understand everything you talk about. You also have made me see the other side of the coin. You have finally explained why my father drove me mad taking constant photos of me. I hated it and never saw the other side of it. His side. I never understood why he still speaks of that little girl I used to be even now when I’m in my 40s. But now I do. Thank you so much for taking the time to write this. It’s a beautiful tribute to the love a parent feels for their child. I hope that little boy your son was, always remains with you somehow and I hope the teenage will one day understand why his mum HAS to take photos. You have a beautiful boy as well. Loved all these lovely pics.

    • I am glad this post explained that to you.

      I’m glad I understood that my mom and dad and grandmother talking about the great little me were not disappointed in the older me.

      I thought that for a very long time.

      i get it now.

  19. I was a horrible teenager. Horrible.

    Looking back, my mother tells me she doesn’t miss those days in the least. She cherishes the time we have now, since I grew out of my independence and full circled back to an ever-so-tight bond.

    But, thus begins a new season of letting go, as she watches her grand children grow and wishes they could stay babies, just as I do, while each moment passes.

    When did life get to be so painful? With every joy I share with them, I’m saddened to know that the experience will end. Although I do realize there will be new moments to share, it’s so heart breaking to let go.

    • Think of them linked together to build a life, and it is less painful.

      But there is nothing that makes you miss what is no longer less…we just create something we can look forward to just as much.

  20. You have me crying here. I look at my, now seven years old, daughter and can barely remember all the nuances of her at five, or three, or one. All I have is pictures and a few grainy videos taken when she was small to bring those memories back to life.

    I wish I had more. I take many more now. Even when she complains and grumbles, I’m not above a “one pretty smile and then you can have this candy bar” approach. I wish I could freeze every moment-well, not every moment, that fit she threw at bedtime tonight could be left out, but all the other moments.

    • You are doing exactly what you need to do.

      And a pic of at least one fit? Why not.

      And yes, it amazes me how blurry memories that were so clearly impressed on me at the time have become.

      *sigh* Not fair.

  21. It’s a physical ache, isn’t it? That missing your child even when she’s there.

    I don’t even like babies and I miss her being a baby. I miss her at three and at 12.

    Thanks for writing this.

    • It took me a little while, some years ago, to be able to articulate what it was I was missing because, he was still there! How could I miss him?

      Then I realized that the him is a different him. Totally and completely. And glimpes of the boy he was a little while ago are there for a bit, but then those glimpses are replaced with glimpses of the boy who was the new boy just months ago…

      There is no baby, no toddler, no wee child left in my little boy.

      And I miss those children, even as I adore my 14-year-old.

  22. Absolutely love this post. LOVE. I think I needed to hear it today. Thanks a bunch.

  23. I’m blaming it on the hormones. Because I’m crying – honest to god I am – and I miss it all already and my son is only two! Well done.

  24. Wow… Amazing. You said what every mom wants to say but just does not know how to put into words. My son is only just 8 months old but already I miss those days when he was a newborn and I dread tomorrow because he might learn something new and become more independent.
    Beautiful post.

    • He will, and you will adore him and be proud of him for it.

      But do what you can to reinforce your memories of the little baby he is now, because it’s a little startling how blurry those memories become.

      But you will celebrate him every day as he grows, even as you miss who he was yesterday.

  25. This was so beautiful. I’m tearing up as well. I feel like I get so caught up sometimes in the “doing,” as you described it… wiping butts, fixing meals, and some days, watching the clock until bedtime rolls around… this was a great reminder to just let things be sometimes, and savor the moment.

    • I said in an earlier comment, that sometimes the days felt so LONG that I had no ability to understand that the years would be so short.

      Don’t hurry.

      Savor, and love.

  26. Heidi

    Gosh, your posts usually have me cracking up, but my eyes teared up on this one! Thank you for so beautifully recreating those memories.

    My youngest boy is only 20 months, but already I find myself missing a baby in my arms. Thank goodness for today’s technology with the ease of digital cameras and smart phones. I have month-by-month photos of both boys on my personal website, and I look back through them all the time and remember those moments.

    Your boy is quite the handsome young man.

  27. Awwwww….ya made me cry. And it’s not easy to make me cry. I mean, I didn’t even shed a tear in Bambi. In fact, I kept waiting for the sad part to show up. But this, this is so close to my own heart. Every day I watch my kids grow closer to their adult selves and it makes me a little sick. I’m not ready. And probably never will be. Awesome post!

  28. This is such a lovely post. You capture this bittersweet quality of parenting so well: wanting your children to grow up and also to stay little forever, simultaneously.

    And for me the babyhood was especially so fleeting because it was twins and I was so often exhausted and overwhelmed. I was so busy bouncing back and forth between the needs of the 2 that I didn’t have the time to just soak in the moments as I had wished to.

    And then when you add in the developmental delays of autism, that ups the ante in the grow up/don’t grow up tug of war in my gut. Because Jake is still acting like a little guy and trying to fit into my lap as a 75 pound 8 year old, still needing help with things his twin brother is now oh, so independent about.

    Ethan is also conflicted, he can’t wait to grow up, keeps asking when he will be taller than me, scans his armpits for hair (truly hysterical to watch an 8 year old do this, have to work hard not to roll on the floor cracking up when he’s at it.) And then the next minute, he too dives for the comforts of my body, hands on me whenever he can.

    And I try not to be annoyed at the clingy monkeyness of it, knowing that I will not know when it is the last time until it has passed. So I work to enjoy this while I have it, because as much as I would love to have my hair un-pawed at, when they stop touching me I will mourn that, too.

    This is all striking home for me especially deeply right now because we are in the midst of the other side of things, of parents falling apart and dying this year. My mother-in-law is about to go any minute (literally, I’m waiting for the phone call from my husband at the hospital with her), and my father passed in March after a hellish 4 months when he devolved into an infantile state. So I feel like I’m caught between “last moments” on both sides, trying to cherish my kids last gasp of little-boyness and my parents last moments of coherence all at once.

    • Oh, Varda, I’m so sorry about your mother-in-law. I hope it is peaceful and free of pain for her. Please send my love to your husband. And your dad – that sort of departure carries its own agony. I wish you had not experienced it.

      I’m also thoughtful about this in-between phase where I am starting to let go of what I need to do for my kids, but thinking harder about what our parents will need.

      So so hard….

      And I’m laughing at Ethan. They’re so desperate to be big, grown-up, independent… and then my 14 year old announces he can’t find his bus pass at the same time he wants me to let him be more grown-up and more independent.

      Don’t be annoyed at the clingy-monkies (except, they can bruise!) because they’ll be swinging away through the trees monkeys long before you know it.

  29. I know. I know… you realize, a picture speaks a thousand words.

    I adore my children, my hobby is staring at them. They’ll never get it…

    Remarkable post. I could feel the beauty of what you feel in your heart for your boy.

    and what I feel for mine. xo

  30. ash

    This slayed me. Slayed me.

    I’m on the cusp on having boys too big to be picked up (8 and 4). That makes me more sad than I could have ever imagined.

    I promise to videotape more.

    Bittersweet beauty, your words.

    • I so wanted my son to get over being carried – he was heavy and wouldn’t hang on to help.

      Now I wish I’d carried him a thousand more times.

      *sigh* hindsight.

  31. all of a sudden i really feel for moms who don’t blog
    and their kids
    how cool that he can see the person you are at 42
    just by reading your words

    imma go catch my breath

    • I never think of the blog as a way for them to know me, but I guess it is, isn’t it?

      Someone mentioned that she never has pictures of herself taken, and that she might someday regret not having more evidence of the HER that used to be.

      I am in that same boat.

      then again, I’m not your more photogenic sort of person, so many pictures of myself I don’t care for anyway…

  32. Stop it. Stop it right now. Did I really need to cry this morning? I think not. But there it is. I think that is the reason I had #3. I have the chance to cherish, to hold, to imprint his weight on my hip, the smell of his hair, the way he pins me with his dark eyes and smiles, all white teeth and dimples. And sometimes, while watching him, I see glimpses of the other two at that age. So I get to relive some of their toddlerhood too.

    Thanks for sharing. Even tho I’m a snotty mess now.

    • I’m sorry..I’m worried now that you are all mascara-messed for soccer games. It’s unfair of me to do that to you. All the other-picture-perfect-soccer moms can be so judgy…

      And there are times when I wish…in some ways…that I had had more than just the one of my own.

      Not because he is not enough – he is other-worldly incredible.

      Just because it all went by so fast…

  33. Wow, you got me. You nailed it, and I feel exactly the same way. Whether it’s the little boy who has somehow morphed into a senior or the sweet little spitfire of a girl who is wearing mascara and bras…capturing the moments on film is something I will never stop doing. But they sure hate it.

    You got me a bit blubbery this morning….wonderful post.

    • Fortunately, the girl child is a wonderful ham and doesn’t mind it at all, and the oldest is pretty tolerant. The youngest knows that I’ll win EVENTUALLY so he’s decided that prompt compliance is perhaps the path of least resistance.

      Ha! I win!

  34. Dear Lori,
    Mother Hen here to introduce her close friend, Jodi Edwards Wright. (How close? You could even say that she and I are inseparable.)

    How many times have I looked over photographs of my son with tears in my eyes, mourning for the amazing child, teenager, and young man that he was? I can certainly identify with your feelings.
    However, I also have a different take on this topic.

    My son died at the age of 21 almost seven years ago. Photos of him are my consolation, keeping his memory alive when my “rememberer” gets a little fuzzy. From the time that he was a newborn, I anticipated losing him, so I tried my best to ensure that many photos were taken to capture his life. He had cystic fibrosis, so a cloud of dread always hovered in the back of my mind, a threat to his health and very existance.

    Did this mean that his time on this earth was entirely filled with gloom and fear? Not at all– knowing that every day was precious meant celebrating milestones, vacations, and simple everyday moments with more joy, not less. I understood even then how much was slipping away, so I appreciated what we had while we had it.

    My son had a capacity for fun and enthusiasm for living that enriched the spirits of everyone who knew him. The night before he died, though emaciated and frail, he kept the people in his hospital room roaring with laughter.

    Photographs are the remnants of his existence. I no longer hear his laugh or feel his hugs, but I can see my little boy’s curls blowing in the breeze as he posed for his Poppa, and feel motherly pride at his handsome manliness when dressed up for his first prom.
    Keep cherishing your pictures, and snapping those photos, despite his embarrassed protests. The frozen moments in time they represent are worth more than the most expensive items you own, and are much more irreplaceable. You have the right idea.

  35. You have written exactly what is weighing on my heart right now. I have had four babies from my body, and I try to daily recall a special moment for each. I dread forgetting the small details, like the wispy blond baby hairs on the nape of my oldest son’s neck.

    How can we be given such gifts, only to have them move on with their own lives? This is the hardest part of being a mother.

    • Yes, it is the hardest hardest part, and no one tells you about that ahead of time.

      Cause otherwise, maybe we wouldn’t have them.

      So it’s probably for the best.


  36. Thank you so much for this post that found me on a Saturday afternoon, wondering what big project I will tackle next. I will make that baby book for my now 2 year old son my number 1 priority. I will FINALLY make myself order his photo book. I will put “make video montage of last 2 years” at the top of my To do list.

    It’s so easy to get caught up in the living, the raising, the chaos of motherhood at this age, but I need to remember to do these things, to document these things for the mother I will be years from now.

    Thank you.

    • It IS so easy to get caught up…when you’re not doing the parenting, you’re dealing with the house, or the pets, or the job. You’re trying to be the best parent you can, and the best spouse, and the best daughter, and the best friend…

      And somehow in all that is trying, TRYING, to remember WHY the camera is so important, why to write down all those milestones when they happen. Because those crystal clear memories get so, so fuzzy, so so fast.

      And I bet your baby books and photo-montages will be absolutely stunning. They can’t help it when they have such beloved material to work from.

      Thank you for reading.

  37. This is one of the gifts the blog world has given me: the sense that my baby will not always be my baby and to love on him and memorize him as much as I can.

    I am forever grateful for this gift.

    Thank you.

  38. Such a heart warming-tear-inducing-post you have here. Thank you for sharing this. My son is not even 4 and I feel like he’s growing up way too fast and soon he won’t want me to cuddle with him. Thanks for reminding other moms to cherish those tender moments.

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  40. This is a beautiful and very truthful post!
    I know exactly how you feel… my oldest is 14 and the youngest is almost 9 months and I look at the two and then to my oldest and wonder what happened… where did the time go… it sometimes feels like I’ve missed several years.
    I’m thankful for the pictures & memories that I have to remind me of those times.

  41. The nice thing about cats is that they stay small.

    What am I saying?

    There are *so* many nice things about cats.

    I think I’ll make your son an honorary cat. That’s a compliment. You’re welcome.

    • Excellent.

      I’ll tell him this afternoon.

      It is POSSIBLE that he may not yet appreciate the depth of the compliment.

      But I’ll work on that.

  42. This is something I have been thinking about a lot lately. I have twin 16 yr olds and keep wondering where did the time go? He loves having his picture taken, which is great. But she HATES it. She scowls at the camera, runs or puts her hands up. I have too many pictures of her hand! I keep telling them that they will regret not having many pictures when they are older. Fortunately, with today’s technology we have the opportunity to take a gazillion pictures, but if she doesn’t smile or allow me to see her face, it isn’t going to do much good!

    I agree that they don’t get to choose what pictures or videos to keep. Remember when we (or friends) marked out our picture in the school yearbook? Now, years later, that picture is gone. I really regret marking out my 8th grade yearbook picture even though I had blue eyeshadow on ONE eye. I somehow forgot to put it on the other eye. I would love to see that picture again. (And show my kids that I was once a gangly, goofy teen too.)

    • Forgive me, but I am chuckling at the one blue-eye-shadow eye!

      And it’s so hard, especially for girls, I think. So much of what we see and hear tells them that they’re not beautiful that they cannot believe us when we tell them they ARE.

      But be persistent, thank heavens for digital cameras – it matters not one whit if we take 100 shots just to get the one.

  43. Just beautiful. I have been behind on my reading and I saw this on Twitter, but just hadn’t had a chance to make it back. So glad I finally did!

  44. Such a great point. You know, that is one of the reasons I love to blog – so that our children will have an understanding of who I am at different phases of my life, too.

  45. Oh, I love this post.



    (I am very late, but it is very sincere.)

  46. LOL! The above was from me. I am helping my boss, Jo Packham, set up her personal blog. Was still logged in as her. HAHAHHA!

    Oh, I am so glad I noticed that one. 😉

  47. So no, I had not read this post.

    And I am not the biggest fan of photographs. I have photographs, but I am not good about taking them or looking at them or organizing them. At all.

    I prefer my memories in my mind.

    I prefer words to describe.

    But . . . Maj’s computer runs a collage of photos across its screen when it idles. A screen saver. I was walking past the other day, and a round-faced toddler Maj was staring at me.

    My heart stopped.

    Maj is 11.

    But I remember toddler Maj as though she just ran out of the room.


    Time is all sneaky.

    • I am envious.

      My memory can’t hold onto those sensations. They are as slippery as fish.

      I can almost project myself into a photograph…almost.

      And then I’m sad that I don’t have more.

  48. Kim

    I want to read all the comments. Your post was so captivating that the comments must be amazing as well. But my son still has peach skin hands. And he still melts into me when I wake him from his nap. And he is currently sitting on my lap helping me type. So I must go for now. And I will try to read the comments later. Just know that you touched my heart with your truth. Thank you.

    • I believe you’ve found an excellent reason to stop reading.

      But I think you very much for taking the time to read.

      Now go. Be distracted by softness and cuddles.

  49. So that made me cry a little. I have a 4 year old in the next room. I already miss his baby face and even his baby cries. I joke and say I just “miss the time when he couldn’t move on purpose”, lol, but really? I miss the tenderness and the vulnerability that was him before he learned was an attitude was all about.
    And in a few years, I’ll miss the way he calls me to see every single thing he finds interesting right now.
    I think I’ll go play Lego’s or cars or “battle” now. Thanks for the post. Brilliantly written.

    • Playing is very very good.

      And take the clearest snapshots that you can.

      Then take actual snapshots.

      In heartbeat he will be a different little boy.

  50. Oh my goodness. I’m so glad that Kris chose to feature this post. I was not reading you back at that time, and I’m so glad I read this.

    I’m in tears. I had a moment with my big, bad 6 year old son this morning and after reading this, I’m inspired to go and write about it so I don’t forget.

  51. I am absolutely bawling. I’m not kidding. My face is covered with tears. My sweet 2 y/o is sleeping in his room right now and my 6 y/o is in kindergarten. I need to document their lives more. I probably should kick my blog to the curb & just spend time documenting their lives right now. This post was beautiful. Really, really touching. I loved it. Thanks so much for sharing.

  52. Wonderful post!!

    I came into my step-daughter’s lives when they were 9 and 12. There mother had left their lives (moved away) 3 years earlier. My husband was so overwhelmed being a single parent during that time that there are hardly any photographs of them over those 3 years. It’s so sad to me because I’m sure they changed so much during that time.

    I’ve been part of their family for over 16 years now, and I KNOW my daughters are so grateful for the thousands of photos I’ve taken of them throughout these years. Even the ones they might’ve wanted to throw out back then (the not so flattering ones) bring us back to the days when we all lived under one roof and the fun we had. Quite often we pull them out and go through them and relive memories…it’s so much fun.

    This story makes me want to go and double back up all the digital versions – just in case!!

    • Sometime, somehow here, I am going to write about step-parenting.

      It is such a very, very different animal.

      And I’m glad you started capturing their lives for them.

      It’s so so easy to forget how important those snapshots are.

  53. I’m getting to relive some of that with my grandson. Maybe that why grandparents and grandkids have such a special bond. Cause for us it’s a second chance to hold and cuddle and kiss. And at a time when we don’t also have to mold and teach and scold. We can treasure those moments in a different way.

    • Himself talks about “when we have grandkids” when I long too much for little ones.

      But I’m not quite there yet. Although my step-kids are later teens, my own is still only 14.

      Grandkids feels like a long way away.

      But yes…it will be so lovely.

  54. Mary

    My daughter is 19 and my son 17. Just the other day, a friend of mine on Facebook announced that she is pregnant with her third child. She and I are the same age. Part of me is glad it’s her, the other part would love another go at babies and toddlers and kids. Sigh.

    This just reinforces that desire. I have to go look at my kids’ baby books now.

    • Dear Ms. Mary,
      Babies should come with warning labels, for many reasons, baby fever being one of them.
      Happy pregnant women, likewise, because they are seriously contagious!
      Mother H. says to wait six months and take a good look at your friend again. When her ankles are swollen, her back hurts, and her belly makes a nice shelf, you will realize that you were the victom of momentary insanity.
      Conceivably yours,
      Mother Hen

    • It’s hard isn’t it?

      You know you’re done. Probably. Mostly. Most likely.

      But then someone else’s tiny child laughs, and…

      Maybe not?

  55. Trina

    Hope you don’t mind but I am new and I found you through reading “pretty all true” …

    Your post was beautiful and it touched me.. hard to do lol

    I have 3 kiddos one being 14 and still likes to give me hugs and tells me he loves me…and YES that’s all coming from a boy in high school, who is by no means anything but ALL boy lol … I never turn down his hugs I never will and I will take them for as long as I can, and I really hope it’s for a long time yet, but I am not naive I do know that they may end 🙁 he might get to be too cool for that. So for now I will take what I can get!

    I need to break out the camera, I have been slacking in that dept… thank you for the reminder!

    Love your blog


    • Of course I don’t mind! That was lovely thing Kris did, sharing this post.

      My 14 year old will still let me hug him, he seldom initiates the hugs any more.

      And…I do miss those kind.

      And cuddling.


  56. Pingback: He Will Grow

  57. What a beautiful tribute to your son. I need to go now and find my phone to record my daughters.

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