Friday, August 7, 2015


"The days go by slowly, but the years go by fast."

This came from a lovely woman who helped me negotiate my daughter's stroller up the gangway of the ferry from Martha's Vineyard to Cape Cod. We had visited my best friend and her family. Her children, at 12-, 10- and 7-years old, seemed impossibly grownup.

"The days go by slowly, but the years go by fast."

This simple observation on motherhood was probably the keenest one I ever heard. Well, this and "From now on, every trip to CVS will cost you $50."

Mothering a toddler encompasses countless milestones and moments of great joy. But, there are also long stretches of tedium. I mean how many times (really) do you want to read Goodnight Moon? Then one day you realize that you haven't in weeks. Or months. Or years. 

Twelve of them to be exact.

It's all too tempting to mourn those long gone days, whether they went by slowly or not. I remember my own mother wistfully saying "I wish you were still little" when I was being a particularly petulant teenager. These days, with a petulant teen of my own, I spend a lot of time looking at photo albums (I'm a fairly meticulous — and analog — archivist, despite this digital world). I do miss that adorable little smile. Her party dresses. Her bangs. The way she jumped for joy or her signature move, "the elbow dance."

But, I don't want to go back because then I would miss my bigger little girl. The one who was undeniably happy when I pulled up to the Vermont equestrian center where she's been training all week. She has her annual "rider's tan" (deep dark forearms, face and neck, but white upper arms and hands from the polo shirts and gloves she wears). She was pretty much caked in barn ... um ... whatever. 

I don't ask. 

After a sweaty hug, she gave me a quick tour and came back to my hotel room for a "real" shower. In the car, she filled me in on all the drama, of which there was an abundance, trust me. She cleaned up happily, but declined my invitation to dinner or to stay over. She was eager to get back to her teammates and coaches.

When she makes time for me, I enjoy her company. Her intelligence, her insights. Some, like her feminism, I recognize as the fruits of seeds I planted long ago in the Goodnight Moon days. Others are uniquely her own.

I'm not at the top of her dance card anymore, but I shouldn't be. When she's at work during the day, I miss her and look forward to her homecoming. Maybe we'll watch one of the movies I've recorded for her. Maybe we'll have dinner together. But, I know that if she gets a better offer (Panera or Bertucci's with her friends, laser tag, a bonfire at the beach or a late night swim off the town dock), our evening will be quite happily time-shifted. There's a new sense of urgency gaining momentum. Although they still have to get through senior year together, they know there's a clock ticking.

I hear it too. Every minute of every day.

If only they'd go by a little slower.

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