Double Take


Last night I helped Archer with his first ever Homework assignment. It was one of those All About Me posters that brought me back to my own childhood. Where for the first time, a child is to write about her dreams, his wishes, their favorite colors…

“What do you want to be when you grow up?”

“A doctor.”

So I cut out a photograph of a doctor.

“Where is your favorite place to go?”

“Gooey and Papa's house.”

So I cut out a picture of Archer in my parents' vegetable garden.

“What is your favorite thing to do?”

“Eat ice cream.”

So I pulled a picture of Archer clutching a paper bowl of Pinkberry. And he drew pictures in the squares where I couldn’t provide a photograph – his imagination colliding with our memories.

He wrote his name across the top of the poster and I wrote the rest. And then I rolled the giant poster, rubber-banded it and left it by the door, beside Archer’s field trip permission slip and his order-form for school pictures.

***

Last night Hal turned Fable’s car seat around because it was time. Because Fable turned one year old and weighs more than twenty-five pounds and she was becoming increasingly frustrated having to cross her legs against the back of the seat.

“All done,” he said.

“Thank you.”

I thought nothing of it buckling the children into their car seats this morning. It wasn’t until we pulled away from the curb and I checked my rear-view mirror that I did a double take.


Fable babbled, her legs free and kicking as Archer clutched his All About Me poster to his chest.

And suddenly: there they were: Older.


I reached my hand back and Fable took it, her grey eyes focused out the window, the world from a new angle, no longer backwards.

“Fable?”

…And then she turned toward me. With eyes that appeared at once different. A shade darker. A degree rounder. A millimeter bigger than they did just moments before.

Changed.

A new view can do that I suppose.


“Archer?”

“What?”

“Did you notice Fable’s seat? It looks like yours now.”

But Archer’s attention was elsewhere. He looked away.


We drove to school in silence. Too busy studying homework and windows and the changes that occur in children that used to be babies with rear-facing car seats.

When we got to school, Archer handed in his first ever homework assignment and Fable waved to her brother, goodbye. And it was just like any other day except it felt so completely different: Watching Archer run to his friends without looking back. Buckling Fable into her car seat forward facing.

“They’re getting so big,” people sometimes say.

But change is slow for something that feels so fast.

A watched pot never boils and a watched child never grows until one day he comes home from school with his first homework. Until one night her father turns her car seat around. And before you know it the pot is empty - its water evaporated. Gone.


GGC

58 comments:

Loukia | 7:34 PM

Awww.. so true... it just hits you one day that your babies are not babies anymore! Can't we invent a stop time machine? Sigh..
Great post... beautiful!

mom2nji | 7:38 PM

Amazing post as always. We are down to one lonely booster seat in our van these days. Two of my children have out grown car seats. Grocery shopping today I realized its been YEARS since I walked into the baby department in the store. Sigh.

In someways I want to reverse time, but in others I love where we are and look forward to where we are going. My boys are little men now.

Nicole | 7:41 PM

Love this post....beautifully said!

Fairly Odd Mother | 7:42 PM

Agreed---this is beautiful. I can see now why my grandmother used to clutch my cheeks in her hands and say, "my baby!" when I was 20. As much as they grow up, they'll always be my babies. I just wish I could hold on to every moment a little longer.

lonek8 | 7:46 PM

so true. time is like quicksand - it feels so solid and steady and then without even noticing it has slipped away leaving you trapped. The day to day tedium blinds us to the tiny, imperceptible changes in our children until that one day they walk, or talk, or turn around in the car seat. "when did that happen?" I always ask myself? "where did my babies go?" I know they were here in my arms just a moment ago, and now there are only children, holding my hands or running away, confident, laughing, secure in the knowledge that I will be here waiting, arms outstretched trying to hold on to the past. Raising children is like seeing the passage of time flow before your eyes

Rebecca at Toothwhale | 8:13 PM

You're making a stronger case to yourself for another baby, I think.

Desiree Fawn | 8:19 PM

Oh wow, tears, tears.

I see my daughter getting bigger everyday -- when she signs for milk, or MOVE across her playmat, or does ANYthing on purpose.

Everyday is amazing.

(Baby #3 for you soon?)

Lou | 8:22 PM

This is another one of your stories that made me shiver and tear up all at once. May we all stop and reflect and look into our children's eyes.

EdenSky | 8:47 PM

Yep, my babies are TWO and SIX unbefreakinglieveable years old now. And I have no idea how that happened. You can stare right at the pot and the damned thing goes and boils when you blink.

Baby in Broad | 8:48 PM

Sometimes I think I'm crazy for thinking Westley looks bigger. And then I remember that he is bigger.

It goes so fast...except that it doesn't...but then it does...

TKTC | 8:55 PM

This was a stunner for me. True. And when you said the change, I could see it. At least with Fable because I've only been around as long as she has when it comes to GGC. She was a baby but she's a toddler now. Look at that.

McConnels | 9:14 PM

That was beautiful, and true, and sad, and... thanks for it.

mountain.mama | 9:22 PM

My baby will get in her car and drive back to college on Saturday. It doesn't stop and you don't want it to, not really, it's life with all its joy and heartache and life is what we want. It's the damn feelings we have to learn to deal with!

Beth | 9:29 PM

My 11 month old baby took his first walk around the block today (holding our hands of course). How can your heart break and grow at the exact same time?

Laura | 10:00 PM

My five year old boy (actually bringing home a READER from Kindergarten) and 11 1/2 month old girl (getting ready to turn that seat around) put me in just about the same position of feelings that you have. Such a sweet time...with just a tad of bitter mixed in.

Laura

Restless Mama | 10:37 PM

This is a beautiful post and my favorite so far.

Though I don't have a child just entering school I do have a little guy who is now facing forward. It's a real treat to see his face when I look back.

It's a beautiful sight but so bizarre that he's no longer facing backwards or attached to my boob.

They really do grow up so quickly.

Meeks | 10:48 PM

I don't think I've commented before but this post is phenomenal. I don't have kids (YET), although I want to be a mother more than I want these stupid advanced degrees I'm getting...
ANYWAY. Fantastic writing and photos. Makes me love my mother even more, if possible, and wish I could look back at her thoughts while I was growing up.
PS - I totally want to be your friend. In a completely non-psycho sense. You're way rad.

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 10:52 PM

Aw, thank you. Truly.

spicylikeginger | 11:07 PM

You can reflect on life, and drive, AND snap artistic photos? Really, can you bring it down to a "ten", you're making the rest of us look bad.

Seriously, though.... sigh. I'm just totally jealous. BTW how perfect are Fable's toes?

Mama Bird | 11:17 PM

Lump in my throat.

Maggie May | 11:53 PM

Yup. I just wrote this whole morbid post about heartbreak and children.

On another note, I love both your hat and Fable's carseat cover.

Chantelle {fat mum slim} | 2:20 AM

So beautifully written. Thank you.

I know what you mean. xx

GirlHouse | 4:17 AM

Beautifully written. Tear.

Fa | 5:51 AM

I haven't posted before but I just had to tell you how incredibly sweet this post was. I love your writing. This hit home. Thanks.

feastafterfamine | 6:33 AM

My oldest just started kindergarten. She's intense and reflective. When I see photos of Archer, I think they share some of the same soul. My youngest turned 1 in September. He's carefree and insanely joyful and I think of him when I see Fable's bright smile. Within the last week, we too had our first homework and changed the car seat. I absolutely feel the bittersweet joy you describe. The mixed emotions of moving forward and looking back. It's a beautiful, difficult and thrilling time. Thanks for capturing it so well. And for sharing.

Susan | 6:35 AM

You know what day I dread? The one when I reach my hand back, and he doesn't take it.

Mommy Lisa | 7:08 AM

I had to go to my baby's first school conference, my step-daughters first college tour and now this...

I am crying at my desk.

Thank god I have an office with a door.

Livia | 7:19 AM

Crying at work.

The 224 Girls | 9:07 AM

I love your blog and I love you! But, why do you have leather seats in your car? Aren't you a PETA person?

GIRL'S GONE CHILD | 9:22 AM

No PETA since 9th grade. I also wear leather shoes, use Proctor and Gamble products and eat cheese.

Marian | 9:26 AM

your children are gorgeous, your words speak the truth, and i have experienced that BIGGER moment so many times. it's unbelievable. last night i watched at a restaurant as my 3.5 year old daughter wrote on a placemat the words "dada" and her name and daddy's name, unprompted and without help. and then, yes, she wrote "mama" with help (M is a tougher letter!). thank you!

Joceline | 10:38 AM

The same thoughts hit me when my two (24 months and 9 months) started sleeping in the same room a couple of months ago. They wait until we leave the room and then they start cracking each other up. How do they learn how to do this stuff? So sweet.

Okay, I hate to even leave this comment lest it come across sounding judgy, but I'm kind of a nut about car seat safety and my brother is a tech, so I get an extra dose of crazy there. So, that being said, Fables car seat straps need a little work. The are too loose, one is twisted, and the chest clips need to be at armpit height. I just thought I'd mention it because I know those are easy mistakes to make, and I've done them too.

7aki Fadi | 11:02 AM

This post almost made me cry.

We have JUST turned my baby's seat around too on Monday. And her legs were bouncing in front of her, she was so happy and babbling because of the change.

My five year old also go her first homework on Friday.

I was thinking what you were thinking, but you think it so much more beautifully than I do :)

Rebecca | 11:14 AM

beautiful, thank you

Sheila | 11:19 AM

I so love how you worded this! It is so true!

Missy | 11:28 AM

I just want to thank you so much for writing about the experience of being a mom without sounding corny or desperate or overbearing. I love the way you write about your children and your husband and it makes me sit back and appreciate my own little family every time I read your words!

Mo | 12:06 PM

Oh, man. Those last couple of lines just punched me right in the gut. (Maybe right in the uterus?)

Ray | 1:01 PM

I love how you record even the littlest moments of your life with Archer & Fable. Or really the biggest moments. Because at once what seems so small isn't so small at all, it becomes rather, "big."

Cherish every moment (although I know you will). =D

Glenda | 2:33 PM

this is a beautiful post... and so true... they grow up fast...enjoy the lil moments... they definitely become the big moments!

Anonymous | 3:44 PM

1. You made me cry again, damn you. ;)
2. You are very lucky. What a beautiful family.

Lindy | 7:08 PM

Not gone... Present, but changed. You captured the beauty of it--and the wistfulness, too. Lovely words. Thanks for sharing.

Rachel | 8:43 PM

It goes by so quickly! My daughter will turn 1 on Thursday and there was a moment the other day when she was playing with her stacking rings and I looked at her little hands moving and the thought process behind it. I thought "she is doing something" and I see the purpose behind it and I was in amazement.

Leah | 10:53 PM

God, this is beautiful. You do it to me every time, Rebecca.

mrs.notouching | 4:46 PM

Thanks. Now I am going to have one baby every year until my first born has her baby. I just can't stand the thought of my baby growing up.... clearly still hormonal here. Kisses to your beautiful babies.

Sarah | 5:47 PM

I wonder what Archer is thinking about as he is looking out the car window....

Michelle | 6:31 PM

So true! My babies are 9,8, and 6 and the time is flying by just as everyone told me it would. I love each new stage and each new accomplishment but it does make me a little sad sometimes.

Absidey | 7:49 PM

I found your blog googling something I've forgotten months ago, after I discovered I was pregnant. I read the archives, frequently laughing and crying and finding bits that I could take into myself with a soft sigh and, "Yes. This is what I need to hear."

Now I've caught up and I am days away from starting my own adventure as a mom, and I have to thank you for helping me believe that I can do it. I am not too young. It is not too soon. So thank you so much for putting your experience and love out in the open for others to find. Thank you for sharing your joy and pain of not just being a mom, but of being a woman and a wife.

Meemo | 11:04 PM

This post really hits close to home. With a 13 year old and a 15 month old, I know all too well how fast time flies. It's so surreal to look at my baby toddling around and then notice that my first born has hairy man legs. How in the world did that happen?

MomE | 6:44 AM

my goodness, reading this post made my nose burn, you know the kind when emotion swells up faster than you expected? i'm so there with you.

i was just thinking yesterday that it's almost time to put my baby boy's car seat facing forward. his little legs are climbing up the back seat for comfort. ay! weep! he's not one year until nov 4th, so, soon enough. plus, his big sister, who'll be 3 on nov 10, is on the brink of little ladydom. how time flies. weep!!
let's just watch the pot until it boils.
great post!
xoxo, eileen.

Anonymous | 8:15 AM

Beautiful comments and children.

To follow up with Joceline... 1yr and 20 lbs, is the youngest and lightest standard to turn little ones front facing. The longer you can wait the safer. http://www.aap.org/family/Carseatguide.htm

Only mentioning this becaue you have lots of drivers out there in California and I can see how much you love your babies.

Chloe | 8:56 PM

like a previous poster said this is so not meant to sound judgy but i've been reading about forward facing vs. rear facing and the new guidelines that say to allow your child to rear face as long as possible and just wanted to share a link to a video that has made me rethink turning my little one at a year. i had no idea about this stuff so i thought i would just pass it along. not meaning to offend at all.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Q8gU9zzCGA8

Anonymous | 8:47 AM

Where are you these days...you don't seem to write in your blog that much anymore and that sucks for us!! Missing your words.

ZDub | 4:30 PM

SO very true. You have gorgeous babies.

Monica | 3:48 PM

Thank you so much for this post, it took my breath away, so real and so true.

Sarah | 12:14 AM

omg, break out the tissues. So beautifully written and so true.

Sometimes I wish I could freeze Leah and Cam and the next minute I can't wait for their tomorrows.

nannysarah | 9:00 PM

I love love love your blog, and this was a really touching story..but I can't go without saying...

Please please please turn Fable back to rear-facing..

They should remain rear-facing until they are atleast 2 years old, if not longer.

Check this out.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Y2DVfqFhseo&feature=fvw

Also, check this out

http://carseatnanny.blogspot.com/

I hope this info changes your mind.

Melina | 9:41 AM

I love this post...the future for my 2 1/2 year old and 3 month old...

sweetmelissa818 | 8:05 AM

Yay! The sweater in between their car seats! I love those sweaters! My girls each have two and matching hats!