Friday, February 10, 2012


          Twenty years ago this week, this article of mine came out in the February issue of the magazine for which I was a monthly columnist. Just for fun, I thought I would reprise it here. It was written just 3 months into motherhood.


            Three months ago, I simply wouldn’t have understood. Even my sage older friends couldn’t have prepared me.
            I couldn’t have begun to understand what a fierce, protective, primitive love I would feel the first time I held my child. Nobody could have told me that one of my son’s gummy, dimpled smiles would warm my heart for an entire day.
            I would never have believed that baby spit-up on my linen suit (dry-clean only) would go unnoticed, or that a living room littered with rattles, burp cloths, diaper coupons, and clean baby laundry would feel like HOUSE BEAUTIFUL to me.
            I heard my parents and older friends say a lot of things over the years. Good things. Wise things. Things about time and kids and growing up and growing older. I listened. But I never really understood until now.

            Children grow up before your eyes. You turn around and they are adults.
            Enjoy your kids. They are small only once.
            Time sadly speeds up as you age. Years fly. Don’t take time for granted.
            Loving a child will forever change you.

            But these wise friends….they never told me about how it would feel to have a tiny hand wrapped around my baby finger. They never suggested that seeing my two “boys” cuddled up asleep together on the sofa would make me fall in love with my husband all over again.
            And no doubt they should have warned me about this time thing. How does it all change so quickly? A few weeks ago, time was just time. It passed. I lived it. And now in the wee hours of the morning when I nurse my son, my fingers brushing his head of strawberry blond silk, Pachelbel’s Canon in D softly playing, I value time differently. All at once I want to suspend these moments. Time is going too quickly. I see Sam growing before my eyes, and I too now yearn to slow the clock.
            I know there will be moments when he is fussy from teething or ‘terribly two’ when I will wish for “this too to pass.” And then I will probably wish it hadn’t.
            So I will seize the day with my little Samuel. We have stories to read, songs to sing and loons to listen to. We will find rainbows and catch sunfish. And I will squeeze every second from the wonder of this season….and feel all these feelings that nobody prepared me for.
            Perhaps part of being wise is knowing that there are some things you just can’t tell a person….things they need to discover all by themselves. Someday I will tell my son that if he ever has a daughter, he will stare at her sleeping face with tears in his eyes and feel like the luckiness man on earth. He won’t have any idea what I mean.

          Since I wrote this, life happened just as the adages promised. Time flew. My sweet babe grew up all too quickly and I could do nothing to stop the clock. Sam never did go through the “terrible twos” and there was never a day of tear-my-hair-out parenting that I wished would end. I loved putting my Gerontology career on hold to stay home with Sam. We read thousands of books, sang a bazillion songs, danced, snuggled, baked cookies, took long walks, caught fish and played ball. There truly was wonder in that season, but oh……it went too fast!
            The strawberry blond 3-month-old I wrote about then has become a bright and talented 20-year-old college sophomore with Joe Mauer sideburns, a mass of brown wavy hair, exciting dreams, and a passion for all things sports.
            Since this was printed, I call a different city home, have taken up new hobbies and work more with kids than seniors these days. My once post-partum body is now middle-aged, touched by lung cancer and more than a few wrinkles. The home once littered with baby laundry and burp cloths is now an empty nest.
            Sam and I still love to go fishing and bake Christmas cookies. I am still the only barber he has ever let touch his curls. We still sing together----one seriously stupid song we made up about a Twins baseball player. Our relationship now is woven with threads of those rich first years we spent at home together, and the multi-faceted strands of his 20-year-old life.
            An entire generation has been lived out since I wrote this column. I have to pinch myself to believe it. But while change has been inevitable in this blink-of-an-eye mission of raising a baby boy to a man, there are still a couple things that have not changed. 
            Sam still has no clue the fierce kind of love inside his soul that will emerge when he has his first child. And when he comes home, I peek in his room from time to time, early in the morning, look at his sleeping face with tears in my eyes, and still feel like the luckiest woman on earth.


Anonymous said...

OMG Mare, you have brought me back to those days too.How wonderful those memories are.I remember what a tiny little thing he was and how much he was loved by you and Dick.I am so glad I have memories from those days too.Prayers are always flowing for peace to you on this journey to healing.Love Kay

Cole said...

Such precious words, Mary!! It makes me grateful for this Friday night which finds me sitting on the couch with my husband, kiddos, and a big bowl of popcorn. Watching "Toy Story 2" with popcorn is the highlight/reward this week and I *know* how quickly time will pass when I look back to Tristan's baby pictures.

I, too, am trying to soak up each precious moment and savor it in my heart. Thank you so much for sharing this loving post!!!

Gretchen said...

Wow. Bawling.

I'm living it all right now, and I couldn't have worded it so well. It is SO TRUE that there is just no way to have any clue about how it will feel to be a parent until it happens to you. And what a beautiful blessing it is.

For future reference, I would love to have your written thoughts on upcoming events in the life of mothering a son. First girlfriends, for instance. Obtaining of the drivers license, middle school in general, and of course, dropping him off at college. Jack is a year old and I already ruminate on these topics with angst. If you ever decide to put your thoughts on any of these subjects to pen and paper, please keep me on the mailing list. :)

Love you.