Sometimes, I look at the painted flowers on my daughter’s bedroom wall and feel the world ending.

One day, those flowers will be a memory and the very thought of the end of all this makes me want to stomp my feet and cry.  I don’t want things to change!  I don’t want her to grow up and go to college and meet a boy and get married and move to another state.  Or house.

Sometimes, I look at my 12-year old son’s soft cheeks and his freckled nose and his green eyes and want the whole world to stop. I want to hold his face and touch each freckle but if I did he’d roll his eyes, jerk from my hands and think I’d gone crazy.

Can’t we just take a time out?  Can we pause on twelve for a few more years?  I don’t want him to grow whiskers and fall in love with girls and choose a career path and stop laughing at things that aren’t funny unless you’re twelve.

I spy the distant Mt. Rainier in its white-covered glory and I feel frantic.  We haven’t sojourned to the mountain in two years.  What if that time was the last time we’d stomp its snowy sides?  What if we don’t venture back up the mountain?  Will the kids even remember the delicate alpine flowers and the pure thin air?

Just moments ago, my teenagers were little kids, wandering the back yard waving sticks and throwing balls over the roof of the house to the front yard.  They refused to eat vegetables and only drank apple juice.  Those mundane days already glow in the fading hazy light of memory.  The past seems sweet compared to the reality of uneven facial hair and loud music and their uniform of black t-shirts and baggy jeans.

I hate my kitchen counters.  They’re old, pale yellow formica.  I don’t have enough cupboard space.  The sink is a ghastly gold.  And yet, sometimes I’m already nostalgic for it.  When I’m an old woman and I think about raising kids, this is the kitchen that I will remember.  This homely, inadequate kitchen is like a friend I miss already, even while we’re still holding hands.

Sometimes, I just want to press the pause button.  I want to appreciate this moment, to breathe it in, to gather it all in my arms and sit and rock, rock, rock in a peaceful rhythm before it all scatters, never to be assembled again in quite the same way.

But there is no pause button.  The children won’t stop growing.  I keep getting older and grayer.

The whole thing, when I consider it, makes my heart hurt.

Nothing stays the same and there’s a peculiar pain in noticing the fleeting days for what they are–a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow.

14 thoughts on “Vapor

  1. Amen. And that’s why I consider myself especially blessed, to be experiencing it all over again with my grandboys. Not everyone gets a second chance to savor the childhood moments. As I lay next to my grandson Dylan on the bed the other day, quietly watching him drowse off in to sleep, the thought came to me, “I wonder if I’ll live long enough to see him get married.” I don’t know…will I? And it brought tears to my eyes. Vapor, indeed.


  2. Sigh… sad, yet so true. I can barely remember my two oldest boys being 12 – trying to remember their voices; what they liked to do; who they hung out with… is flying by


  3. Have you seen “Mamma Mia” or are you an ABBA fan(or both, like me)? Your whole post reminded me of the song ‘Slipping Through My Fingers’…I saw it at the theater, then went again for the sing-along, then bought the dvd, so I’ve seen it just a ‘few’ times 🙂 And every single time, I bawl like a baby when she sings that song. In fact, I’m getting a little teary just hearing it in my head 🙂


  4. I feel the same way lately. My ten year old daughter wants to give up her pink room and canopy bed. I bagged up Barbie furniture on Sunday. I tell myself that I can’t stunt her in my attempt to hang on for dear life, so I let her grow up, and I hate every minute of it.


  5. I feel the same way lately. My ten year old daughter wants to give up her pink room and canopy bed. I bagged up Barbie furniture on Sunday. I tell myself that I can’t stunt her in my attempt to hang on for dear life, so I let her grow up, and I hate every minute of it.


  6. I hear you; I feel your pain. Just this week I saw pictures of my oldest brother who left this world almost 30 years ago, and wonder what his voice sounded like. I walk through my house and look at collections my mom had for so many years; now she too is gone, and all I have left are the memories and the things. Occasionally, I find a drawing one of my own precious children made for me so many, many years ago, and I wonder where the time went. Cherish the time you have left with your children; happy times now will be tomorrow’s golden memories.


  7. You made me cry. It was a good cry though, but still.

    My youngest is 14. My oldest is 23. I feel like my mommy years are over, and i’m not ready to let go.



  8. Yeah, there is something about this time of year. School is over, the kids move up to the next grade. The whole last year was a blur and gone.


  9. All my dad kept saying in the months before he died was – “It just all went by so fast.” He said it so wistfully, and he was never one to talk much or share emotions, that I am constantly looking at my life through that phrase.

    (well, NOW i want a cookie…)


  10. A lovely, well-written post. I am older than you and my children have passed through those stages and later ones too. The sadness you describe is every mother’s lament. The silver lining is that recognizing the swift passage of time helps you to really savor every minute as it is happening. I can also tell you that there are some wonderful times to come as your children grow up. I love having adult children and I even love my teenager who is my youngest! It’s something special that you have awaiting you…..and I can say this even as I wistfully think of my children as babies, toddlers and gradeschoolers. Thank you for writing this.


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