Friday, May 14, 2010


When Greta was very little - old enough to sit up in the front of a shopping cart but too young to walk - I used to take her out to stores a lot.  

We were living in a trendy Suburb west of Boston, filled with large houses (we rented), manicured lawns  (tended to by landscaping crews) and the Moms were Ladies Who Lunched or had Big Corporate Jobs.    It was a great place to live if you worked in the city or had infinite discretionary income: close to public transportation and walking distance to several cool pubs and restaurants.   

It was not so great if you were home full-time with an infant.

At first I would go to the playground, excited to meet other Moms.   I was taken aback by all the beautiful, young women there - their long ponytails shining and their bodies showing no signs of childbirth.    It took me a while to realize these were the Nannies.   No Moms in sight.

I couldn't find any Mommy and Me clubs or community playgroups, so to avoid going stir crazy I would take Greta to the grocery store.   Like, every day.

I loved how people would fawn over her; oh, she's ADORABLE, how old is she?  Look at her smile!  She's such a doll!   I would push her along, walking the aisles, occasionally tossing an item or two into the cart to keep up appearances, and wait for someone to exclaim over her cuteness.    I was struggling as a new Mom; I felt lost, inadequate and scared a lot of the time.   At the store, though, I soaked in the validation of these complete strangers, and felt awash in maternal pride.  


This memory came roaring back to me last weekend, as I stood on the sidelines of the soccer field and watched Greta run past me, long brown hair streaming behind her, a huge grin on her face.   

She ran with coltish grace, her arms and legs pumping madly, propelling herself forward at a seemingly impossible speed.   

She effortlessly ran with the ball, no defenders in sight, until the only thing between her and a goal was the opposing team's goalie.   Pause.  Shoot.  SCORE.

I leapt into the air.   "YAY, GRETA!!"  I yelled, unable to stop myself, awash in maternal pride.   She shot me a sheepish smile, happiness beaming from her eyes.

And I felt it - that WHOOSH of time flying past.   That long legged, graceful beauty on the field was my little bald baby who used to love to flash her four tiny teeth to strangers in the store.  

It will happen again, I thought.   Another WHOOSH and she'll be pulling down the driveway without me in the car, or a boy will be slipping a corsage onto her wrist.   

"When you're a parent, the days are long and the years are short," my friend Karin used to say as we huddled together for marathon playdates, babies tugging at our shirts and toddlers teetering around at our feet.   I would nod when she said this, but the long days of tending to babies and toddlers held me firmly in their grip.    I couldn't wrench myself into the moment, savor it, treasure it, because I felt weary right down to my core.

Last Monday Greta wasn't feeling well and she stayed home from school.    Finn was at preschool, and so just Greta and I went to the store to pick up a few household items.   As we waited in the checkout line, Greta quietly standing by my side, I glanced at the woman behind me.   She had an infant in the cart who was pulling at her hair, giggling, and a toddler lurching away from her, trying to pull the candy off the shelves.    She looked pale, tired and bored, and was snapping at her oldest while shooing her baby's hand away with a sigh.

"How old is your baby?"  I asked her. 

"Eight months," she said, disentangling her hair from a little fist.   "She still isn't sleeping through the night, and he's potty training," she said, almost apologetically.  "It's been a long day."

I gave her a smile and said, "Yes, I remember those days.   They're tough."    

But I wanted to lean over and whisper into her ear:  WHOOSH.   


  1. Boy, can I relate to this one. I too live in a trendy suburb west of Boston (we still rent),I remember many trips to the park and being told "oh, I'm not the mom -- I'm the nanny" and feeling like a greasy exhausted mess. When I did see the mothers, they were all thin, dressed in their 7 For All Mankind jeans holding Venti Starbucks nonfat lattes with their expertly coiffed hair barely out of place. I was a mess. I tried storytime at the library (a disaster) and couldn't afford Mommy and Me.

    My "whoosh" moment was last night, watching my 9 year-old dance at her Sunday recital's dress rehearsal. Where did all those interminably long days go? Suddenly she is giggling with friends in the dark high school auditorium, waiting for her class' turn to dance; and once the routine is over, comes breathless off the stage to hug me and ask if I thought she "did good."

    As I was tucking her in hours later than usual, she asked me to stay and cuddle with her.


  2. I just had this image of you actually doing the whoosh in the ladies ear. LOL I think that might be a bad idea.

    I had a serious whoosh last week when I talked to my son about his sex life. I'm still freaked out.


  3. Such a lovely post Ellie. Honestly, I've got tears.. especially because people have been telling me that sort of thing recently about my little guys. (and Paige STILL is not sleeping through the night so that line got me... seriously...) It's hard to remember, that it will whoosh by.. but it's good to know in the back of my head so I don't take it all for granted.
    Thanks :)

  4. lovely post. every day i look at my toddler girl and my pre-adolescent boy, and i hear that "whoosh" in my ear. i'm going to miss these days when they're gone. *sniff*

  5. Yes, Whoosh!

    And yet when you are struggling with the present, "whoosh" isn't what you need to hear. You need to hear "Attagirl", and feel a pat on the back. That is the ammunition Moms need to survive the "whoosh".

    You are doing a great job, Ellie, of recognizing the present blessings amid the time-travel of the whoosh. Keep it up!

  6. "When you're a parent, the days are long and the years are short." Ahhhh, sooo true. With my oldest at 6, I am getting big glimpses of this all the time. It helps me treasure things with my 2 year old, because while she still makes me tired, I can appreciate how fast it will go by.

    Lovely post.

  7. I am right there in the whoosh right now. I have struggled with it since conception. When I was drinking, I mourned the passing of time. The missed opportunities. The nights I couldn't remember. The hours I wished away until I could drink again. Tonight I have been awake from midnight to now - 2:30 am - because my "baby" is on a sleepover. I am not worried about him, but I miss his presence. I am mindful everyday of the importance of savoring time. Not looking too hard at the past nor looking too far ahead. As always, you have spoken one of my truths. Thank you.

  8. I know what you mean. My oldest just graduated from Pre-K the other night and I had a WHOOSH moment. Your friend said it best, "day are long and years are short."

  9. Aww! I remember seeing all those cute photos of bald grinning Greta, and she has grown up so much, which unfortunately means my daughter has as well, entirely too fast! I hear that whoosh often, I need to do better at remembering that sound in the midst of all the other current distractions.