On Thalia’s 9th birthday, the biggest parenting cliche in the world.

I swore I would never be the parent who gazes at other parents holding newborns or wrestling toddlers into clip-on cafe booster seats and saying to them, it goes so fast.

But I am. I am that person. Feel free to hate me. I hate myself for it.



Of course when I approach the poor unsuspecting parents, I have to caveat it by confessing to them how much I want to slap myself for saying it at all, especially after years of swearing I wouldn’t, because yeah, duh, of course it goes fast and you should treasure these years and yep, the time with your babies are so precious and fleeting and blah blah blah slow news day, Liz?

Meanwhile back when other moms would suggest the same annoying cliche to me, all I could think at the time was that I was happy for a little “it goes fast” in my life, what with the diaper explosions and the front carriers that killed my back and the leaky sippy cups that ruined more than a few handbags.

And yet, here she is. Here we are.

Today Thalia that little girl who was born smiling, turns nine.

Today, nine years ago, she made me a mother. More than that, she made me a mother I didn’t know that I would ever be.

Each July 6 since then there have been celebrations. Presents. Cake. Sometimes fireworks. The one thing that’s different this year, is that she is with her father.

I don’t get to wake her, cuddle up in our nightgowns together in bed, stroke her head, open some cards,  and retell the story (she still lets me tell it without complaint) of my water breaking at my desk, the doula who left mid-labor, and the bumpy 3AM ride up the FDR drive with my contractions unmercifully coinciding with every pothole we hit.

I don’t get to laugh–not yet–about the endless debates about her name and how no, I was not going to name her Clinton Portis no matter what. The way my stepfather drove 18 hours from Michigan through the entire night just to make it to the hospital in time to hold baby Thalia in his arms and fall right asleep–and then how her birth entirely changed his life. How awkward that first morning home was, when I pushed my newborn baby around in a bassinet from room to room because I had no freaking idea what to do with her–or that I was even allowed to leave her in one room while I was in another. How she used to smile at trees, and wave at fire hydrants. How much I grew to love her.

I’ll get to tell her those stories tonight. And maybe I even treasure it more because I have to wait for it.

Today, it seems I have time for reflection instead.


Thalia at two | Mom101

My parents have friends who, on their anniversary each year, ask one another, “How are we doing? Anything we have to work on?” I always thought that was wonderful. And scary. And very very brave.

I like that idea. And so I find myself stepping back on the anniversary of the birth of my first daughter and asking myself, am I doing okay? Can I do better?

I would think, like most parents, my own answer is a firm, definitive, sometimes.

I can resolve conflict without yelling, but I have never created a chore chart that’s lasted more than a week.

I stay involved with my kids’ homework and the curriculum and the school community, but there are plenty of mornings we arrive as the morning bell rings, and tiptoe past The Late Lady with her book of names and ominous yellow highlighter.

I have worked on making eggs that taste like something  and I’ve learned how to talk about bullies and mean girls and diversity better over time.

I have made brutally hard decisions in their best interests that tore me up in a million ways.

I have marked down the date for the end of year gymnastics performance, then still forgotten to go.

I have told them I love them every day without fail.

I have run out of lunch foods every week without fail, at which point we stop at the deli for a bagel and piece of fruit on the way to school.

Some days we watch too much TV. Some days we play too many video games.

Some days we forget we own either.

I am not the perfect mother. I am not even my idea of the best mother I can be (which may in some part have to do with the critical Virgo perfectionist in me). What I do know is that I have two girls I am so incredibly proud of every single day that it brings tears to my eyes–at which point they ask my why I’m crying and totally make fun of me for crying just because of something they can’t understand. Like Sage making me toast. Or Thalia walking in from the shower with her hair wet and pulled back, allowing me to see the same face of the toddler I once knew.

Today that toddler turns nine. With her own friends. Her own likes and dislikes. Her own way of speaking. Her own dreams.

Of course I am the person who says, it goes so fast. Because it does. And it’s painful and beautiful and heartbreaking and amazing all at once.

I do not miss the diapers.

I just miss my birthday girl this morning. But, like the diaper, the longing will just be another memory soon.

I will get to hug my nine-year-old and tell her how much I love her. Again. And what a beautiful person she’s become on the inside. Again. And how proud I am of the kind, sympathetic, morally grounded, insightful, joyous person she’s become, and how much she gives of herself to the friends and family she loves. Again.

Also, how damn fast it goes. Again.

T and Grandma at 9 | Mom101

Thalia and Grandpa 2014 | Mom101


Thalia + Sage 2014 | Mom101

Mom and Thalia | Mom-101



One day soon I’ll get an eyeroll to accompany my gushing. Maybe even tonight.

But it won’t stop me from saying it..

Thalia 2014  | mom101



22 thoughts on “On Thalia’s 9th birthday, the biggest parenting cliche in the world.”

  1. My dearest, Liz, I’ve waited all morning for this, your birthday love letter to Thalia. As the tears flow, I’m remembering Tillie Olson who still stands here ironing. Remembering.

    No matter how old we are our children are ALWAYS our babies. We let them-we let you-grow up but never let you get away from our hearts. Happy birthday, Thalia. And happy nine years old to Thalia’s mother!

  2. Beautiful blog and beautiful daughters. Please wish Thalia a happy birthday from us and tell her it’s a wonderful day for a birthday.

  3. I have tears rolling down my face. Happy Birthday to you for raising such a wonderful 9 year old. I vasilate often between unbelievable love and gratitude for my 5 year old daughter and 2 year old son and frustration with sulky attitudes and poor listening – I hope I can say some of same things you have when my kids a re older. Sippy cups are still ruining my handbags and I’m here to tell you that it is helpful every now and then to be reminded of how fast it goes.

    1. Thank you Meredith. Every year seems to get better. I’m waiting for the other shoe to drop (and it will, as it always does) but I will say the post-leaky-sippy cup but pre-training-bra years are pretty great so far.

  4. Liz,
    You are a wonderful writer and better, a wonderful chronicler of the delicate equation that is parenthood. I am often in awe of my own kids’ “personhoods” and how complicated they each are as independent individuals. Birthdays are a chance to reflect on the journey and the amazing reality of where it all began, the helpless baby and the parent whose constant attention is a near necessity. Observing you raise your daughters through your blog brings back a lot of sweet memories and luckily for me, motherhood is still a fascinating and complicated endeavor even as I know less and less about every detail of their lives!

    1. That is incredibly kind, thank you so much Dorothy. Fascinating and complicated indeed. That should be the new tagline for motherhood.

  5. It does go too fast, doesn’t it? My kids even feel it. My oldest is 12 and is already 5′ 9″ and she feels she’s reached this state in a more mature body sooner than she was ready.

    Your daughter is lovely and the world is lucky to have her in it. Please wish her a most happy birthday from her fans in the Midwest.

    1. Lalallala can’t hear you…

      (5’9″? Really?)

      Thank you Korinthia, she’s loved reading all these nice wishes from “friends she doesn’t know yet.”

  6. Happy Birthday to your daughter and happy mom day to you! (Yes, because Mother’s day is actually on their birthdays).

    I want to say “Thank you”. I’m not alone when I gaze at my two girls and think back in a montage of highlights in their lives and think it went with the blink of an eye. And there’s so much more to go. My mom reminded me all along that it does go by fast. I’m lucky that I was able to absorb as much as I could.

  7. Happy Birthday to Thalia from one of your (and her!) fans in Virginia! I have a nine-year old boy who was born in March of 2005, and I started reading your blogs soon after they both hit the one-year mark, so I feel somewhat like they grew up together. And I am SO that Mom telling everyone how fast they grow up!

  8. While I’m tearing up at the thought that my kids are growing and changing so damn fast, I remember the indignation that I felt as a new mother when well-meaning parents would tell me to cherish the precious moments. I wanted to ask them to babysit for a while so I could take a shower, get some sleep, and eat a meal while it was still hot; then I’d sit back and appreciate my sweet baby. Of course, I did/do love my time with my little ones. The work-joy ratio of parenting is tipping more toward the joy side now that they are past the baby and toddler stages and I am able to be more present with them. I hold them a little too long and I know they’ll be resisting my affection soon enough.

    Happy birthday to Thalia and happy birth day to her mama!

  9. I loved this so much. Thanks for sharing. Happy birthday to your sweet Thalia.

  10. Happy Birthday, Thalia! Fist bumps, high fives, hugs, candles, cake, books, stories, love, laughter, and all good things to you today {and always!}

    And Liz…sigh. I’ve started wanting to say the same thing, and kind of kick myself for it. But then I can’t stop. Because people. It’s true.

    Love to all of you!

  11. I just wrote a love letter to my July 6th birthday girl who turned three. She has a big sister, so I am beginning to understand how these days fly by while simultaneously seeming to drag endlessly. I’m savoring the last bits of toddlerhood before the pre-adolescent eye rolls begin. Thank you for sharing your love for your daughter with us.

    1. Thank you so much Justine. Happy 7/6 birthday to your daughter. I love your line about savoring the last bits of toddlerhood – sniff.

  12. JULY is the best month (for birthdays)! It’s the days that go on and on forever because the sun never sets. And you get to imagine your mom all sweaty and people touching her belly when you were inside it but their hands were all puffy because it was summer. That, and sprinklers. That, and long bike rides. That and scratches and bruises and mosquito bites from going and going and going all day because school is out finally thank-all-that-is-holy. Why I stopped by today to read just this one piece, I do not know.* All I know is July is the best month (for birthdays). No matter what number you’re on. Liz! Thalia! Have fun the rest of the month, still lots of days to go. -g

    *Oh! I do know! A June 2011 piece of yours I responded to and kept — both your piece and my response to it.

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