Everything Must Go

By Beck

Recently it has been very very very obvious that puberty is lurking right around the corner in my house. My oldest child is turning 11 in a few months and in most ways still seems like a little kid with her dolls still carefully lined up on her shelf, rolling snowmen out in the yard, unconcerned and light. But her best friend is suddenly stiller, more deliberate, tall and nearly adult if you see her out of the corner of your eye. She is on her way someplace, obviously, and in some quieter ways, my oldest is starting on her way, too, and things are changing at my house.

I read something the other day – and why do I never bookmark these things? – but anyhow, it said that change is the only consistent thing in our human lives, that everything changes all the time, that nothing in your life will ever remain consistent or steady and the fact that this shocks us over and over again is a weirdly human cognitive dissonance, this refusal on any of our parts to understand that we don’t get to keep anything. And I was holding my baby niece – so, so sweet, so very much like my own babies, my babies I only half-remember now – and suddenly felt this wave of grief, this knowledge that I am done that part of my life, that I will never hold a baby of my own in my arms again. It is over, it is done, it is gone as irrevocably and quietly as my own childhood, as quietly and irrevocably as my oldest child’s childhood is ending around her.

Childhood’s end is both not sad and terribly sad.

I’ve been giving my child lots of “helpful” advice these days, trying to cram in some final bits of knowledge before it’s too late – stuff about boys and boundaries and respecting herself and treating herself like the treasured girl she is – and she is both bemused and slightly confused by this sudden pestering.

What do you think I’m going to do?” she said to me the other night while I was tucking her in. “I’m not going to suddenly become some other person. Stop WORRYING so much.”

And I was wildly amused – of course, she’s right – and terrified all at once, because I remember adolescence and its endless hardness and the things you discover and the distance that occurs between ten and twenty. And, of course, she is wrong – she will be some other person, some adult self that I do not yet know, she will change.

You are such a great kid,” I said, kissing her. And although she did not know it, does not know it yet, I was sad when I said it, knowing that in many ways that it’s my summation of her childhood, what I am saying at the end of it. She is such a great kid, I think, and I am both not sad and terribly sad. Everything changes. We don’t get to keep anything.

20 Responses to Everything Must Go
  1. kgirl
    January 14, 2010 | 11:35 am

    Aw. It’s true that we lose our babies just a little bit more with each year, but I’m thankful for the lovely people they are blossoming into.

    p.s. don’t worry, I won’t ever tell my kids that they are ‘blossoming.’ I will be a sentimental idiot in print only.

  2. Karen
    January 14, 2010 | 1:01 pm

    You already know this but our oldests are the same age. I’ve been watching his shoulders get strangely wide, wide enough to look somewhat manly. Inside he is all tweeny & somewhat angsty, unless fully occupied in play. It is both amazing and frightening to watch. So much happens in pretty small space – the body of one 10 1/2 year old – in a pretty small time frame – between now and 20, I suppose.

  3. Nicole
    January 14, 2010 | 1:59 pm

    I feel that way too, when it is the end of a childhood era or milestone, that it is not sad, but terribly sad. My four year old snuggled onto my lap yesterday and I could actually feel the time that he would do that slipping away. Sheesh! Now I’m crying about it. I’m not sad I’m not having any more babies, but at the same time, knowing that my time to have babies is over is…well, sad.

  4. suburbancorrespondent
    January 14, 2010 | 2:06 pm

    While I love watching my rapidly-growing children as they mature and turn (even more)into their own individual selves, there is a part of me that would give anything – ANYTHING – to travel back in time and hold each of my 2-year-olds just once more. Dear Lord, I miss them so much.

  5. Sue
    January 14, 2010 | 2:20 pm

    I think the passage you’re trying to remember is from Bea’s (Bub and Pie) Future Shock post. I had those word stuck in my head for weeks.

    I love toddlers so much. My kids are 8, 7, and 5. (Well, and the baby – but he doesn’t count yet – he’s still just a pre-toddler). I miss their littler selves already. I can see them hurtling toward their teens – a space where I’m afraid we will no longer understand each other – because I’ve never understood teenagers – not even when I WAS one.

    Beautiful post Beck.

  6. Kyla
    January 14, 2010 | 3:34 pm

    Awww. We’re not there yet, but this one got to me.

  7. Theresa
    January 14, 2010 | 5:40 pm

    I just found out that I am pregnant with my third baby and my last baby is only 4 1/2 months old. I had spent a few days moping and freaking out over having another baby so soon, but this really helps to put it into perspective. Thank you. Maybe now I can stop being so silly and try to fully enjoy the feeling of being surrounded by blessed little people.

  8. Omaha Mama
    January 14, 2010 | 7:40 pm

    The baby thing. We’re not having more and that’s my decision and my husband’s decision and it’s what’s best…but then there’s this innate YEARNING. I could totally have another baby. Probably by winter next year. But I won’t. Which is good and not good. Happy and sad. My babies aren’t babies either. Sigh. I just try to think about all of the great parts of that. The freedom it brings. The fun changes. The new things. But still get a little sad about the baby part. I get it. Really I do.

  9. Jeni
    January 14, 2010 | 7:57 pm

    I was happily writing things in my planner the other day, and noticed, “Oh, my daughter’s birthday is on a Sunday this year…” before realizing that it’s her FOURTH birthday. MY FIRST BABY WILL BE FOUR. I know that doesn’t seem like a significant milestone, especially since your daughter is speeding towards puberty, but…but…FOUR. Four is definitely in the not-baby territory. Three could go either way, so three is safe. But Four…oy.

  10. bea
    January 14, 2010 | 7:57 pm

    Hey, was it my post? It’s so 2007, that thrill of reading a post and finding a reference to myself in it. (Everything changes. Sigh.)

  11. Dayngr
    January 14, 2010 | 8:13 pm

    As I read this I felt the tears welling up in my eyes. I’m feeling the pull of change already too. From babies to big kids my little ones are blooming and blossoming and it’s amazingly wonderful and terrifying all at the same time. Thank you for sharing

  12. Heather
    January 14, 2010 | 11:16 pm

    I got all teary because I too will never again hold one of my own babies. And my oldest is only 7 but I still see glimpses of her growing up and away.

    I can only hope that my 3 children will provide me with several grandchildren someday. Someday waaaaaay in the future, but not toooooo far. You know what I mean.

  13. Nowheymama
    January 15, 2010 | 11:21 am

    Also, that Anne of Green Gables quote about motherhood being wonderful and terrible. Yes.

  14. Tracey
    January 15, 2010 | 11:54 am

    You horrible person. You made me cry. Justin is turning 11 in just a few weeks and doesn’t smell the same, speak the same or act the same and it is scaring the crap out of me. Thanks for reminding me of the cusp I’m on with him. Before I had too much coffee. Thanks A LOT.

  15. Kelly
    January 15, 2010 | 1:04 pm

    I think I’ve regained enough composure today to comment.

    This post just touched me deep within, Beck. Because it’s SO TRUE. Everything is always changing. There is no constant with our kids. Some days, I can’t WAIT until they get older. Other days, I recognize how much I will miss this.

    Teyla just turned two, and I’m reminded afresh how glorious and fun this age is. I’m trying to treasure every minute.

  16. patois
    January 15, 2010 | 3:37 pm

    I have really got to stop reading you. You make me cry too often.

  17. Susan
    January 15, 2010 | 11:05 pm

    Lovely, but two of these posts in one day are too much for me. Here’s the other one, from a little further down the line, by a terrific writer named Darryle Pollack.

    My own twins are high school seniors and even more on the border than your 11 year old. Don’t blink, because that’s how fast it goes. Pay attention and hoard your memories.

  18. Megan
    January 18, 2010 | 4:26 pm

    I’ve got little, little kids, and in the midst of each day I tell myself about 20 times, “(AY CARAMBA!) It won’t be this way forever…” Each time it has a different meaning and I even try to picture in my head what that change will look like, yet I look back on the way things were just 6 months ago and the differences still manage to shock me. Different cusps here, but all the same happily angsty, reflectively hopeful, nostalgically eager feelings of “There it goes, *sigh* and Here it comes, *wheeee!*” Maybe we should ask them to subdivide as they grow up – so we get to keep their little selves AND see who they become next.

  19. … [Trackback]…

    […] Read More Infos here: 5minutesforparenting.com/589/everything-must-go/ […]…

  20. side effects of Celexa
    April 1, 2012 | 7:21 am

    … [Trackback]…

    […] Informations on that Topic: 5minutesforparenting.com/589/everything-must-go/ […]…

Leave a Reply

Wanting to leave an <em>phasis on your comment?

Trackback URL https://parenting.5minutesformom.com/589/everything-must-go/trackback/