Time Passages

(If you're thinking about joining the talk Sharon Silver and I are doing about Anger tonight at 9 pm Eastern, register before around 5 pm Eastern so we have time to send you the call-in info. And don't worry if your kids won't be asleep. Mine probably won't be, either. Sigh.)

Today's topic is time passages, and when I typed it I definitely had this guy in my head (you're welcome for the earworm).

Our kids are getting away from us.

They're growing up and starting preschool or Kindergarten in the fall.

Losing the diaper butt.

Doing it "myself."

Reading all the ads on the subway.

Not wanting kisses in front of their friends anymore.

My baby cousin is graduating from high school and starting college in the fall.

I don't know whether to feel old or to feel young, to watch it happen and wish I'd enjoyed those stages more when I was in them or to thrill at the way they get to experience those stages with the complacency of youth.

I mean, I know the answer. But it's hard not to get a little weepy sometimes.

I think I'll just put on my headphones and sing along with Al Stewart a little.



35 thoughts on “Time Passages”

  1. You have who they are now, and you never lose who they were.And maybe someday, if you’re lucky, there will be grandchildren….

  2. “It’s hard not to get a little weepy sometimes.” So true. Makes me want to hug my kiddos just a little bit tighter today. 😉

  3. This is so timely for me. The 11yo just decided that he’s too old for his dad and me to read stories to him at bedtime……and I don’t know why, of all the childhood milestones, this one seems to be affecting me the most. But it is.

  4. With all respect, I don’t get this…and that makes me SURE that when Mouse goes to college I’m going to be incapacitated by a giant wave of nostalgia while you all run off to have a drink at the bar. But for now, I’m always delighted by growing up. It makes everything more fun.OK, occasionally the sight of a 2-year-old in ponytails will make me go awwwww down in my heart, but do I want to go back there? HELLS no!! Even though I loved it and her at the time. The big kid just gets better for me.

  5. I struggle, like many, with the “I didn’t appreciate it enough as it was happening” syndrome. But I’m deeply suspicious of that feeling, as well! It feel kind of like a trap, or a hamster wheel. Because you can always feel that way. It’s akin to thinking, “If I lost 10 pounds I’d be happy.” Then you lose the weight. Then, you realize your nose is too big, etc. I guess I mean two years from now, or whenever, I’ll still feel those emotions, only it will be about how little they are TODAY. So I work at relieving myself of that burden, of just snipping it in the bud. Sometimes I think it’s okay to indulge in those bittersweet feelings, but then I need to keep moving forward.One of my favorite memories—so random!—is how Younger had a specific diaper cover (hot pink) that she liked, and when I would put it on her, she would run to the mirror and preen, just in her little diaper, with her blonde baby hair sticking up all over the place.

  6. My six year-old daughter recently told me she was too old for songs at bedtime. Ouch. Turns out she really isn’t, but it took a number of rather sad days, and some help from her big brother, for her to figure that out. You can read all about it here if you like: http://gotitma.blogspot.com/I think sometimes these pushing-ahead milestones with kids take the form of two steps forward, one step back. Sometimes they push us farther a way than they really mean to, and if you wait a bit, they often shorten the gap themselves.
    I try not to mourn for past phases of my kids lives because I feel like it keeps me from appreciating the people they are right now. So far I can say that every phase has been my favorite one. But sometimes one of their periods of asserting their independence will catch me off guard, like the singing thing, and it really does sting. Perhaps it’s just the universe tapping me on the shoulder and telling me to stop moving so fast and appreciate where we are right now.

  7. My guy is turning 3 in about a week, and although I’m 99% sure I’m a one-and-done mom, I was just looking through is baby pictures and felt a little pang as I realized how sweet those times were. But reality hits and I remember how awesome things are now (usually). It was great, and I probably should have done more documentation of milestones, but the one great thing I learned from my offspring is to be present in the here and now.

  8. @Charrise – I’ll meet you at Melt-Down Point after we drop the kids off. I’m a one & done and I look at pics of little Shortstack and think “well, that had stretches of both awesome and awful”.He has always been an interesting person in his own right but every new communication and understanding just makes it easier for us to know each other.
    @Rudyinparis – Shortstack’s first underwear (a Woody ana Buzz from Toy Story) made him strut like Miss America.
    PS – PLEASE somebody else tell me that you hear what I hear about characters named Woody and Buzz. Gotta love Pixar for the laughs they give the grown-ups.

  9. I was just thinking this morning that it will be a little bittersweet when DS can say ‘sofa’ with the ‘s’ instead of ‘ofa’ as he says now. When the switch happens it’ll be ‘yay! his pronunciation is getting better!’ and ‘oh no! his cute pronunciation is going away :(‘.I don’t know why I always remark on the language thing.
    For me the bittersweet thing is pretty fleeting. I feel a tinge for a moment that something is gone. But for the most part I’m completely wowed by what’s taking it’s place that it’s hard to linger too long in what was.
    I’ve also caught myself appreciating little moments so much that it brings me to tears. So I know I’m at least appreciating some things in the moment and not just after the fact.
    I don’t think I’ll have but a moments ‘oh no, it’s gone!’ when the diaper/pull up thing is finally over. (Please let it be over soon…) I make no promises for going away to college or university, though. I mean, I can cry while watching a TV commercial that I know is purposefully trying to manipulate me. So you know, chances are…
    DH often tells the story about how his dad (with whom he had a very challenging relationship ) balled when he dropped him off at his university dorm.
    But, one step at a time. Lots of milestones to hit before we get there.

  10. It hadn’t occured to me that someday Chuckles will be too old for me to read to him at bedtime. You guys are killing me.Training wheels are off the bike. Rails are off of his bed. He’s taking swimming lessons. He gave me a list of things he can now do because he’s 6.

  11. Oh, man, this is *exactly* where I am today.My baby starts kindergarten in the fall. My “big” (she’s not even 7 yet – how can she be big?) girl has just been offered this amazing, amazing opportunity that will add 16 hours a week to the time she’s already gone in school.
    I sense I’m in the minority in that I have loved the youngest stages in my kids’ lives. I feel like it’s hard, but rarely complicated. I had a purpose in that life and I knew what it was. They are becoming these amazing little people and I’m so proud of that. But God, I’m going to miss them so much as they spent more and more of their lives out in the world. It hurts. A lot. And I pride myself on being honest with them, but I don’t want to share this hurt with them. It’s a natural and important part of growing up, this separation, and I don’t want them to think they shouldn’t do it to protect me.
    Right now I feel like everything I love most about my life is going away. (I know, I too read that and think, “dramatic much?” It’s a pretty accurate representation, though, of where I am.) I have other things, things that I enjoy and that I’m good at, but this best part, the part that just *fits* who I am is ending and deep down where it’s hard to admit it, I don’t want it to. Even though I know it would be wrong for the kids, I want them to stay the way they are. I want us to stay the way we are.
    I always say my number one bit of parenting advice is that This, Too, Shall Pass. It’s a double-edged sword, though, isn’t it? It passes whether you’re ready for it to or not.

  12. Yesterday was my 6 y.o son’s ‘graduation’ from kindergarten. They performed all the songs they had been working on this year, and even accompanied ‘la Traviata’ on the recorder which was mind-blowing. I mean 120 kids and they all mangaged to play the notes at the same time! Then they all came out dresseed in black robes and graduation caps and recieved their kindergarten diploma one at a time. And everyone was there patting thier eyes with tissues. And this is Kindergarten!

  13. I now have Croce d’amore from La Traviata as an earwurm. Thank you @paola. I do love opera and it’s always a thrill to hear that opera performed. What did they play? The Brindisi?Traviata is very much ” they are not long,the days of wine and roses” as per Ernest Dowson’s poem.
    Sorry about the morbid streak. DD has started pre-school for the afternoon session and three weeks in she says ” bye bye mummy, you can go now” and runs off to play with her friends. She has a life and I’m not part of it. That’s 3 and a third years. Of 24/7.
    It’s actually hard. On the other hand it’s reassuring to me. I am an older mother, and having a child sure did not keep me young. I lost my father young and mother couldn’t parent so roles reversed and I am reassured by DD forging ahead too. And as she’s our only one so it’s good that she made friends so easily.
    Of course she’s co-sleeping by her choice and has comprehensively rebelled against the toilet so she’s the only one in pull-ups at school so it’s not like she’s not depending on mummy. Allergic to lots so every food bar bread cooked from scratch. The eczema routines……My weeping over the independence seems rather strange.
    Still I thought I would enjoy those two and a half hours a lot and I did the first week! Like a vacation. Then I sort of felt a bit like I lost a part of me. I don’t think I will take university that well.Fortunately I am sure DD will be fine there too and send me packing off home.
    Then again, as DH points out, the average Briton now stays home until age 35 before moving out. Every university student I know off always boomeranged home at least for a few years……..At that rate I’ll have pushed her pram and she can push my bath-chair.
    I’d like to play Traviata but DD hates it and she hates and fears headphones. Knows how to unplug them.

  14. I love reading posts like this because it makes me remember – even in the midst of this damn 8 month sleep regression – to always appreciate the moments I have with my daughter. I do, for the most part, but on days like today when I am sleep deprived and I wish she would just.go.to.sleep., it helps me relax and just watch her as she sleep-crawls across our bed. Thank You for that. 🙂

  15. @the milliner, I can report than I had about two seconds of nostalgia when Pumpkin announced she wanted to go to bed without a pull up, and have not experienced a scrap of nostalgia for the frequent accident phase that we are finally done with.I do get a bit nostalgic as I watch my girls grow up, and I’m finding that this effect is bigger as I watch my second and final baby turn into a toddler and head towards preschooler….
    But I’ve never had much trouble with the idea that they have things they do without me- probably because they each started day care at 5 months, so I made that transition quite early. I do remember how weird it felt to be out without Pumpkin when I left her alone with Hubby for the first time. She was 6 weeks old and I had a conference to go to. I remember rushing home a bit early at the end and being very disappointed that they weren’t there- they were out for a walk.
    And I have been musing a bit lately about how motherhood drops you into this full on, intense experience when the kids are little and need so much attention that they practically consume you. And then there is this long, slow phase where they gradually need you less and less until they move out. That is a weird thing to experience, and I can sort of see how for some people it might be hard to recalibrate back to not being so completely wrapped up with the kids, particularly if you’ve given up your career and/or hobbies to take care of them when they are young. Already, I see a little bit more space freeing up for me, and my youngest is still in that super clingy “if my mother is in my eyesight or earshot, she must be holding me” phase. I can only imagine how that will go as she gets older and more independent. Obviously, my kids will still need me for quite some time (frankly, I still rely on MY mom quite a bit), but I see this glimmer of a future life when we can all be in the same room, doing our own things- and whatever I’m doing will have nothing to do with them. I.e., I won’t be coloring a picture or reading a book to them, but sitting there reading MY book while they play (or read their own books). I confess that I like that glimmer- but who knows what I’ll think when that becomes real. Or when my baby moves out to go to college.

  16. Funny that I spoke about language in my first post and I didn’t catch my own mistake:”DH often tells the story about how his dad (with whom he had a very challenging relationship ) balled when he dropped him off at his university dorm.”
    Um, make that bawled. Grrr…
    Not quite as cute as an almost-3-yo who says ‘ofa’ instead of ‘sofa’.

  17. When my boys reach the age where they grunt at my questions while raiding the refrigerator before hiding back in their rooms for hours on end, my plan is to get a dog. That should fix it, right?I find that I’m enjoying my 2nd child so much more than I did my first – simply because everything is not so fraught with possibility of failure. My first was not a difficult child at all (still is not) and my second (according to my mom) is so much more difficult (funny, I just don’t see it at all)…but because my first is MY FIRST, everything he does, everything he goes through is a first for me and I don’t know what the fuck I’m doing, and sometimes my focus is that of an air traffic controller. With my second, I seem to be looking around and enjoying the scenery so much more. But ya, I miss the baby stage when I see one. Not enough to want another (ha!) but enough to miss the baby that is no longer a baby. Sometimes I look at him jumping off of the arm of the couch yelling, “No Way Jose!” at his older brother and I wonder, “Where the hell did my BABY go???”

  18. I’m a one and done mama, mostly by circumstance, and some days it slays me that his babyhood is gone and I won’t ever get to do that again. Life was hard then — our family suffered a lot of grief in that first 18 months or so, but he was easily the best part of my life then. And it went by too damn fast. He’ll be 3 in July. He’s in preschool, potty trained, is really starting to learn all the things the world has to teach him and some days I just want to stop time. Other days, I can’t wait until bedtime so I don’t have to spend another hour with his little bossy pants. 😉

  19. I was walking through Babies R Us with a friend the other day and I was thinking oh thank god I don’t need any of that stuff anymore. So, yeah, baby phase all done with no regrets on only having one. But this preschooler phase is pretty much awesome. Tantrums and discipline issues – okay not a bed of roses – but the unabashed mommy you are the best statements and snuggling at bedtime and the way he still runs to me with a huge smile on his face at pick up time, these things I will be sad about losing no matter how happy I am that he’s growing up.and @Julie – I totally plan on getting a dog then, too!

  20. My oldest “graduated” from preschool yesterday so this timely. I will admit that this is the one issue that I never really “got” when I was single/childless. But oh how can it be possible that my baby is going to kindergarten in the fall?I had relatively easy babies and I so miss the baby phase sometimes. On the other hand my youngest is in that hard (for us) 18-30 month phase and I am ready to move on from this period. A good friend of mine who delivered just days before I had my youngest just e-mailed me to tell me she was pregnant. I was so so happy for her and so incredibly happy that it wasn’t me. LOL!
    My oldest is 5 going on 15 and sometimes feels so big and grownup even though I know he is just a little guy.
    I know time passes as it should but the thought of my baby boy going off to college one day does make me a little sad.

  21. Due to some PP anxiety I feel like I totally missed out on the fun of the first year if my first child’s life. I am enjoying the second so so so much more (now 6 mos) and I feel like I was cheated out of enjoying this time with my first. My heart hurts thinking that this may be the last time in my existence on this planet that I have thsi experience of having a baby, breastfeeding,etc. Yet I don’t know if our marriage, our bank accounts, or our busy lives could handle any more children…So my question is, how do you know if your done having babies?

  22. you reach out your hand, but you’re all alone in those time passages. Fashion is always of the time in which you live, and it’s best Time Passages.

  23. I remember at about 5 months old our boy was showing off these huge whitish teeth buds in his upper gum line and I was beside myself not ready to have him get teeth and ruin his sweet baby smile:) The actual teeth didn’t come in for months, and those were months of sleepless teething nights!Then he had this most amazing sweet babble voice and I was grieving that he’d talk almost immediately and we lose that, 2.5 years and in speech and yes we still have the sweet babble with more and more clear words every day which I’m most grateful for.
    So I’m learning to freak out a little less and be more in the moment and truthfully with all the sleep crap its hard to think beyond today!!

  24. I finally realized that I would, in fact, like to try for another baby. And that, due to various factors (financial, career, emotional) I am not going to have one.So, to recap: my husband and I both want another child but are not going to have one (barring some unforeseen radical changes in our lives). This makes me sad and angry and feeling like I did not pay enough attention to the “last” milestones around here.
    5 stages of grief. Pass the ice cream.

  25. @Sarah, I hear you on that more radical missing out. I had two back surgeries in my son’s second year, and was out of it on painkillers and bed rest for most of the year. I feel like I missed his transition from baby to boy, and like I’m only now catching up, more than half a year later I feel cheated. It’s incredibly difficult. It also seems to be something that other people can’t handle — they either go silent, or try to cheerfully say it’s always like that, or buck you up some other way. It’s categorically different. I’m sorry you lost that time.

  26. Totally don’t miss or grieve for the infant period or even really the early toddlerhood. Things started getting better when the boys (I have twins) turned 3. Then it definitely felt like things have sped up so much since then. They are now 6 and I wish things would slow down. More because there are all these things I want to do with them now and just not enough time to squeeze them all in. And I have this feeling if we don’t hurry up and do them, I’ll run out of time.They start K in the Fall. Not sad about the actual progression but am anxious about all the changes to our routine and the unknown that new phase will bring. We’ve had the luxury of 2 years of pre-K so we’ve been in a nice routine for 2 years now and that’s about to be disrupted. The boys will be fine – it’s me that needs to get over the adjustments!

  27. Long time listener, first time caller. Some evil mother of college students gave me the book “Love you Forever” at a baby shower and I can’t even think about it, much less read it to my little boy, without bawling like a maniac. I remember my parents joking around when I was a teenager – giving me a group hug and my dad saying, “if we hug her hard enough can we just squeeze her back into her little baby body?” and I responded with an eye roll, ugh, get outta my face. I want to give my parents a big hug right about now. I enjoyed, but was not in love with, the baby baby stage. I would say once we passed the 9 month sleep regression (he is 14 mos), life has really been grand and getting better every day. Yet I still feel some guilt for maybe not enjoying the baby baby stages enough? We want to have more and unfortunately I miscarried 3 weeks ago, so my emotions are all over the place right now.

  28. @Marianne Dashwood, I’m sorry for your recent loss… I wanted to chime in about that book “Love You Forever.” We bought it at a library book sale last year and I cannot read it without bawling either. I hid it in the back of the book shelf so my 5 year old (our one and probably only) won’t find it. It doesn’t help that I lost my maternal grandmother around the same time we got the book so there is a whole lot going on for me when I read it.

  29. Oh gosh “Love You Forever”… we got it from my sister-in-law. She said “It’s kind of creepy but I loved it as a kid!” It does make me bawl as well.Monkey is 7 months old. I think what happens to the human brain when we think about children (our own and other people’s) is that they get “stuck” at a certain age and unless we think about it beforehand we just assume automatically that they are still the same age. I’m stuck at 4 months with Monkey, even though he has 2 bottom teeth right next to each other (goofy grin boy!), rolls front-to-back and back-to-front, can pretty much sit up by himself, smiles and laughs and talks and coos and shrieks, and diaper size keeps getting larger. My best friend, her kids are still 4 and 12 to me, but they’re really 7 and 14. Even though the first months were extremely difficult, I do miss that baby, that serious-faced, confusing, soft tiny baby.

  30. @wilhelminaSorry but it just said ‘Traviata da G. Verdi’ on the program! I’m afraid I’m a total ignoramus when it comes to classical music.

  31. @Kelly &@Marianne Dashwood, count me in to the “bawling while reading ‘Love You Forever’ club”. Everytime DS picks it out to read I strain really hard not to let my voice wobble in the refrain. I’m totally waiting for him to ask one day why it makes me sad. No idea how I’ll answer that one.@creatingbalance, ha! I totally had the same reaction when DS was getting his first tooth. ‘oh no! he’ll lose his cute toothless smile!’ and then it was ‘oh no! he’ll lose his cute two tooth smile!’. Took me a few rounds of things like that to figure out that he would become even more charming and that my love for him would be even stronger with each new twist and turn.

  32. @ Stacy, thank you and I am sorry for the loss of your grandmother as well. There are so many emotional layers in LYF – ironically my son brought it to me to read it to him this morning and I tried and got to the toddler dumping her watch in the toilet part and couldn’t do it (wow are we starting to have days like that!). I am going to hide it for awhile.@Stacy, Kelly, the Milliner – I am so glad to know I am not the only one affected by this book! I picked “Marianne Dashwood” b/c I thought maybe I was too sentimental over this.
    @Julie upthread who said something like with the first child every day is a new first for the parents – I have thought on this so many times. Just when I think I have something “learned” – we hit a new phase with new challenges (and exciting things too). Fun but I always feel like my knowledge is tapped out.

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