A halfway spot

June 15th, 2012

There is a lull in these months of the year, a gentle sway between the tug and the rush, when my daughter is at her halfway spot, the sweet, round stillness of equilibrium. I’ve noticed this each year with the mid-season: her momentary certitude of being right in her own place, secure that she’s earned all of her years and a half. These extra six months after a birthday and we begin to beam in wonder again at how much she’s grown and how fast she runs, how well she reads and how clever and fun she is, how light and amazing her grace, how charming, how funny, how much of everything she is becoming and then she turns and buries her face in my waist and says,

Mommy, I don’t want to grow up.

And I know she’s heard the dim roar of the river, the whitewater rumble, the current of life beneath us that only flows one way.

The other night when her dad was gone she settled into my bed and took into her hands the photograph we keep on his bed stand like a shrine, the school photo of her at age three at the idyllic Pacific Oaks preschool. She had a kind of glamour then, a barefaced beauty and twinkle that foretold her marvelous future. She studied the photo for awhile and then says,

I really like this girl.

She gazed for a long time, disbelieving that the little tousle-haired blonde with the baby teeth grin was her from five years ago, five years being an unfathomable breach of time the way thirty years is to me, the me who isn’t brave enough to look at photos of the past after it has disappeared for good. I snuggled her to me that night, I swallowed her warm breath, her weightless slumber.

Lately since I’ve surpassed my own irretrievable threshold in age I wake most mornings to the feeling that there is no time. Ah yes, there really is no time and in that way there is infinite time but the feeling I have is that there is no time left. There is no time to wonder how much time or how little time, where to go or when, what to do after, how to end up, what it’s all about, what better or best or next great thing I should or could or why not do. There is no time to waste but only to appreciate the precious and, yes, parting gift my daughter brings when she steps out of the tub and into a towel, leans into my arms and says,

I want you to be my Mommy forever.

That I can do.



  1. “I really like this girl.”
    What better message can we send ourselves than this?

    Comment by spielbee — February 8, 2008 @ 4:14 am

  2. You made me cry. And now I want my Mommy.

    Thank you.

    P.S. It is so awesome to BE a mommy too.

    Comment by kathryn — February 8, 2008 @ 4:48 am

  3. This is beautiful Karen–I too am reading with tears streaming down my cheeks. Thanks.

    Comment by Meg Casey — February 8, 2008 @ 5:19 am

  4. my heart is full from this beauty. thank you.

    Comment by Phyllis Sommer — February 8, 2008 @ 5:25 am

  5. Beautiful, Karen. No time, precious time.

    Comment by Jena Strong — February 8, 2008 @ 10:20 am

  6. Karen, I had to walk away &just cry. My oldest son will be 18 next thurs. on Valentines day. Last night he popped his head into my room while I was reading & said I don’t want to get old.”oh honey you’re not old, you are still so young” But, but this past week two things came in the mail, his voter registration card & the form for the draft.(more tears)thank God we do not have the draft! My baby boy, so handsome ,so good & kind, so smart.My heart is just overwhelmed right now.Time is getting to me these days, why can’t I slow it down!! amy

    Comment by Amy — February 8, 2008 @ 1:44 pm

  7. That was beautiful (I’m typing with tears in my eyes). I love this: There is no time to waste but only to appreciate…

    Comment by She She — February 8, 2008 @ 2:45 pm

  8. Life is so surprising. Just so not what one imagined. My daughter is 7, now indeed 7 1/2, and I keep having the phrase “7, 14, 21” running through my mind.

    As Joko Beck writes, we are hang-gliders blowing on the winds of a great hurricane, destined to a precipitous end, but what a ride.

    Comment by Chris Austin-Lane — February 8, 2008 @ 2:53 pm

  9. I really like this girl.
    My heart just split open.

    Comment by bella — February 8, 2008 @ 4:15 pm

  10. This is so beautiful, the tears streamed from me. I am honored that you have dedicated this awesome post to me, thank you so very much, I cried when I read “I swallowed her warm breath” these are the things I cannot bear to lose, however, “There is no time to wonder how much time or how little time, where to go or when, what to do after, how to end up, what it’s all about, what better or best or next great thing I should or could or why not do. There is no time to waste but only to appreciate the precious” love songs my son makes up for me every evening before he sleeps. Thank you so much Karen, beautiful in its truth and understanding. Hugs and peace to you Jen B xxx

    Comment by Jen Ballantyne — February 8, 2008 @ 4:29 pm

  11. Your words are so beautiful and honest. I am inspired every time I visit and absorb them through the screen.

    Comment by Robyn — February 8, 2008 @ 5:39 pm

  12. ah…beauty.

    Comment by jessamyn — February 8, 2008 @ 10:56 pm

  13. This morning I was hit with a wave of nostalgia so strong I cried. I didn’t know where it was coming from, I guess it was from this post which I hadn’t yet read.

    Comment by Mika — February 9, 2008 @ 2:54 am

  14. I really like Georgia Grace.

    Comment by Moanna — February 9, 2008 @ 4:42 am

  15. Ah my love, my friends, now can you ever doubt that all feelings are mutual?

    Comment by Karen — February 9, 2008 @ 5:01 am

  16. Just beautiful. Thank you.

    Comment by Shelli — February 9, 2008 @ 9:39 pm

  17. So lovely! Thanks, Karen.

    Comment by Mary P Jones (MPJ) — February 10, 2008 @ 5:31 am

  18. Oh, Karen, I know those emotions so well. The baby asleep on my stomach is then a little girl who won’t let me comb those toooo thick curls who is then so small waiting for buss and then is off to France and then walking into the arms of her new husband. All the snuggles over the years all the hugs and “Mom I love you.” and all the things I wished I had not said or done and she just brushes them off with a sweet word , a smile, and a hug.

    Our offspring are simply too precious and too generous with there love for us that ….well I don’t think I can write anything intense enough to express my feelings.

    Thank you so much for this flood of memories.

    Comment by ONEDIA — February 10, 2008 @ 9:42 pm

  19. I needed a copy check on that comment with the spelling and such.

    Comment by ONEDIA — February 10, 2008 @ 9:44 pm

  20. Exactly.

    Comment by denise — February 11, 2008 @ 4:23 am

  21. A wise young lady, for sure.

    As children we mostly seem to wait with baited breath to become an adult, and as an adult, we all seem to wish we could go back to being a kid. Little responsibility. Everything taken care of for us. Our biggest concern being what we would rather play more… outside in the court or with our barbie dolls?

    Oh, the simplicity. The easy. The naivety. That’s what I love about your book “Hand Wash Cold” – your words and stories help bring us back to that place.

    Comment by Angela DiGiovanni | life * poetry * art — January 8, 2011 @ 6:05 pm

  22. How gorgeously you invoke that whitewater rumble that I hear every single minute … and you are so right to observe that there’s a moment when our children start hearing it. I can’t help feeling that that moment is a loss.

    Comment by Lindsey — January 8, 2011 @ 6:58 pm

  23. Love and tears always so close together…thanks for such beautiful thoughts on such a sad day.

    Comment by Jean Breheney — January 9, 2011 @ 12:13 am

  24. So perfectly you again capture what I’m feeling right in the moment. It’s my baby girl’s 3rd birthday today and I’m watching her begin to hear the rushing river. Time goes marching by. Thank you.

    Comment by Kitty Shannon — January 9, 2011 @ 12:52 am

  25. I am an older mother than most, if not all, here. My “baby boy” is 25, my middle daughter 29 and oldest daughter 34. My forever mommy-ness is as certain as daybreak and stars at night and just as wondrous. Time is a trickster, do not fall for her ruse. It is all here, every bit, every morsel of it, right here and right now. Glorious.

    Comment by Connie Assadi — January 9, 2011 @ 4:21 am

  26. It’s very nice of you to re-share these posts from the past! And interesting to read the different tone and feeling your writing has in some of them.

    Comment by puerhan — January 9, 2011 @ 1:15 pm

  27. Oh Karen, I love all of you. But I may love you here the most, in this beautiful, wrenching essay which took my breath away. The depths of you, revealed so purely. The intensity of what we mothers feel, watching our children grow up and away from us, just as they are meant to do. Thank you for bringing this one back.

    Comment by Katrina Kenison — January 9, 2011 @ 2:08 pm

  28. Welled up eyes and a smile… thanks.

    Comment by Paul Brennan — January 10, 2011 @ 2:37 pm

  29. My heart aches over this. My sweet 5-year-old is sick today and it has quieted her down. She’s been just gazing at me and smiling in red-rimmed eyes. I can see tomorrow and it is lovely.

    Comment by Elizabeth - Letters from a Small State — January 10, 2011 @ 4:35 pm

  30. Oh sweet woman! This, THIS speaks to me. Even as I come out of my own fog and finally feel like I can welcome the day to day joy of my children, I feel as though the time is trickling through my fingers like water. I strive to hold on, but it passes as only time does. But you remind me here how much there is still to come, to embrace and love it for what it is. Thank you!

    Comment by Christine — January 18, 2011 @ 12:28 pm

  31. Skimming the comments, amazing how we all are in the same boat… and yet still under the impression (delusion) from time to time that we are separate from each other…

    My 6-and-a-half-year-old asked me the other day whether she could still live with me when she is married. It was priceless.

    Love your writing.

    Comment by Jewels — February 1, 2012 @ 7:30 pm

  32. I really like this girl too.

    Comment by Bobbi — June 15, 2012 @ 7:02 am

  33. Beautiful.

    Comment by Katie — June 15, 2012 @ 1:32 pm

  34. Brings me to tears!

    Comment by Kelly — June 15, 2012 @ 10:06 pm

  35. oh lordy, this one was a killer! you are amazing.

    Comment by Colleen — June 18, 2012 @ 1:38 pm

  36. I heart your words. And it was worth waiting 43 years to be a mama. Felt like a lifetime and now I want a lifetime with my son.

    Comment by Mary Ann — August 10, 2012 @ 5:08 pm

  37. Thank you for this post. It centered me as I find I get frustrated with my children at various times during the day. I always remind myself that it is about the journey and the day to day moments are so important, but I forget when I get stressed. I can feel time slipping through my fingers. Thanks for reminding me to stop and appreciate what is most important.

    Comment by Lisa — August 29, 2012 @ 11:54 am

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