Yeah, I Was You, and Now I’m Her… While Working On Me

Young mommy... 22 years ago.

Young mommy… 22 years ago.

Hey you, young mother. Yeah, you. I know you. I was you. I remember well the years and years of being busy all the time, and never getting enough sleep. I remember worrying about how to do everything right. What was the latest parenting advice? I was reading it, or discussing it with my friends. Should we let our babies use a pacifier? When should we take away that pacifier? Pre-school or time at home with mommy? Teach them to write before pre-school or leave it to the teacher? Bake a cake or buy a cake? Home-made cookies are good for you, right? Time-outs, rewards, consequences, TV and how much, video games, the family bed, allowing creativity and independence versus setting limits, grandparents, play-dates, marriage vs parenting… Man, the world seemed like a veritable mine field of issues. I was young, my babies were my world, and that world was full of things to figure out. Those years were filled with some of the sweetest moments of my life and some of the most challenging. I spent the last years of my twenties and all of my thirties in that phase of parenting, and I remember it well; I still know that young mother.

Ten years later...

Ten years later…

Today I looked in the mirror and saw a women I met nearly ten years ago. It was a sobering moment, like many I’ve had over the past few years.

Nine years ago, I volunteered to help at the annual Track and Field banquet. My daughter, Principessa, had just completed her first year on the team, and I was there to help set up, serve lasagna, and then clean up. The mom I was working with  was kind; she seemed to know everyone, she was organized and efficient. She told me that she’d been doing the Track thing for 10 years, and this was her last. It was her final banquet and her last child leaving high school; she was fun to work with, but chatting, I felt like we were in totally different times of life. I remember watching her, and thinking that she wasn’t like any of the other moms I knew. She was an entirely different bird… and I didn’t get her. I thought she was an anomaly– a mom who had somehow come through unscathed and was unimpressed by all the crazy I had in my life.

Nine years have gone by and a lot has happened; a lot has changed. I have been to Track banquets nearly ever year since then, and have been in charge of organizing that banquet two times. Over time, I definitely found myself less and less caught up in the details. All that really has to happen is that food needs to be served, and the athletes need to be recognized by their coaches. All the rest of it is icing. After so many years, I know that Icing is overrated. I volunteer to make waffles after workouts on Saturday mornings for the Cross Country (XC) team in the fall and the Track team in the spring. This is my tenth  year in a row, and my final year. This year, I’m the “Waffle Mom–” responsible for scheduling, organizing stuff, and being there for most of the breakfasts. Admittedly, I really enjoy this role.  I love seeing the kids come in from their runs/workouts and line up for waffles. I love to hear them joking with each other, and chatting as they eat waffles, as if I’m blind and deaf. I like being a fly, for this brief little while. The kids all appreciate our effort, and are so wonderful in their praise and thanks. It’s a rare and wonderful teen time. Nine years have passed; two of my kids have flown away and live elsewhere now; my youngest is racing toward graduation; it’s my final swan song as the mother of kids at home.

Today I looked in the mirror, just as I was getting ready to head out for the day. I was wearing There she was, the woman from the banquet: the same (or similar) cardigan; same crows feet; the same been-there-done-that expression; the same older mom who I didn’t understand, nine years ago. It wasn’t the sweater; I’ve aged. I’ve been there, done that. When I came to that first banquet, I distinctly remember thinking that we could make the event more festive, that I wanted to make sure the lasagnas were hot and cut nicely. Today, I know that the kids are there to see their friends and celebrate the end of a season. They are grateful to have the food, but that is not their focus. They don’t notice the decorations at all. We moms are invested in the details, but our kids are invested in the big picture: their friends and the team. This morning looking in the mirror, I had a very different understanding of that woman at the banquet nine years ago. I know that mother too.

Some days I look in the mirror and the years fade away– not because there aren’t lots of wrinkles, not because there isn’t a little extra chin, or too many sun spots… that’s all there, as a reminder that I’m not that young mother anymore. My kids are not little; none of us are the same, but I still have all those early years front and center in my mind. Hand me a photo of Principessa, Middle Man or Little Man when they were babies, and the years melt away. I am back there instantly. On a given day a quick whiff of chlorine pulls me back to the summers of swim team, the Mommy and Me classes in the pool– days of water wings and swim diapers. On a given sunny day, for a fleeting moment, I still want to yell “come on kids, let’s go to the park!”  It’s amazing how we don’t always know the lasts when we’re in the middle of them. That last year of high school, everything feels like a last… but who really remembers that last kiddy swim class, the last wee-one picnic, the last time our little guys crawled into bed with us? It’s gone in a flash. Some days, I glance in the mirror and the years just fade away, and I forget all that has slipped away.

I’m a work in progress. Frankly, the mirror is not always my best friend these days. But that’s something I’m working on too. I’ve said it before: it’s so easy to notice the years rushing by on the faces and in the movement of our children, in the lives of my friend’s children, in the aging and loss of our parents. But somehow the years sneak up on our adult brains. It’s as if everyone else is getting older, and we’re not.  Until one day, you throw on a cardigan, glance in the mirror and you’ve gone from there to here– poof!

But the years don't lie.

But the years don’t lie.

Are you a parent? Where are you at in the journey? Where have you been, and where are you headed? Share your thoughts in the comment section. Do you wear cardigans?

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About Dawn Quyle Landau

Mother, Writer, treasure hunter, aging red head, and sushi lover. This is my view on life, "Straight up, with a twist––" because life is too short to be subtle! Featured blogger for Huffington Post, and followed on Twitter by LeBron James– for reasons beyond my comprehension.
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45 Responses to Yeah, I Was You, and Now I’m Her… While Working On Me

  1. Thank you for this beautiful post and reminder. I am a mom, I have a 5 year old, son ,,,and my journey so far is still being explored…lots to do, so little time…and add to it, so many challenges, and so many roads yet untaken…waiting for the right moment to embark on the new 🙂


    • Nadine, Welcome to Tales From the Motherland! Thanks so much for taking the time to read this post, and for sharing your thoughts. I appreciate you making the time! When our kids are 5 years old, it’s really hard to imagine that the time will disappear so quickly. Good luck in figuring out what the next path is, and when to take it.


  2. Pingback: Yeah, I Was You, and Now I’m Her… While Working On Me | ugiridharaprasad

  3. I started late. I saved money and began college to be a teacher (primary) when I was 22. I had quit my job, but was still living at home and my parents were very supportive. I got two government loans because teachers were needed at that time. I married when I was almost 34. My son was born when I was almost 35, and my daughter when I was almost 37. I spent the last years of my 30’s, my 40’s and many of my 50’s raising the children. I worked full-time from the years my son was in the last two years of high school, and my daughter was in middle school. This was after I had to put my mother in the nursing home because of Alzheimer’s. She had lived with us about 7 years after my dad died. I, and my husband when he could, tried to be there for scouting and school band performances from grade school to the end of high school, and for the plays my daughter was in the last two years of high school. We also attended some college functions. My son is now almost 38 and married,and my daughter turns 36 this month. He’s a Law Librarian, planning on going back to get a Law degree, and she’s an actor. I didn’t worry much about aging as that was the least of my problems. My husband is bi-polar. It was difficult at times, but it certainly gave me a lot of experiences to use for my writing.


    • Patricia, you have had a lot to manage, and you’ve worked hard for much of your life. I can see how different things must seem from my experience! Thank you so much for sharing your experience and perspective on this subject. It’s humbling to remember that thinking and writing about aging and parenting is a luxury. I really appreciate your open, thoughtful take on things. Thanks!


  4. zeudytigre says:

    I too feel I am a work in progress, still needed by my teenage kids but with time to work on what I want to do with the rest of my life. It is exciting and it is scary. Great post as usual 🙂


  5. unfetteredbs says:

    I’m on the tail end of things as well. One more year. I recently walked out of a HS sports meeting with my 16 year old and with a heavy sigh, I exclaimed, I’m old. My daughter said Mom what are you talking about? You’ re like the youngest Mom in my group. You look it too. She’s totally lying but I smiled and thanked her for lying. To which she replied , well at least you don’t look as old as Dad. Man he’s old. Haaaa ( we are close in age)
    Anyways. You managed to write how I presently feel so perfectly. You have that talent.
    I don’t wear cardigans but I live in turtlenecks. They are great for hiding those extra lines forming and skin sagging.
    There is a big part of me that is so happy that I’m on the home stretch of this k-12 spectrum. I’m ready to let it go and move on. To be free.


    • I’m ready to let go and move on too, but admittedly I do miss some of it… depending on the day. Oh how I wish I could wear turtlenecks! Just can’t handle anything on my neck, anything even a little itchy (in any item of clothes)– love how they look and loved them when I was younger, but these days I can’t stand them. So funny, Audra, I thought you were MUCH younger! See, your poetry is very wise but edgy and youthful! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment; it always means a lot; it never gets old! 😉


  6. Oh I well remember all the “lasts”- wrestling matches, marching band events, concerts and tennis matches. It flies by so fast and your so wrapped up in it. You’ll find a new normal and life may be a bit calmer and definitely different. I don’t miss toddler life but those teenage years were really so fabulous with the kids. Enjoy your “lasts” and good luck with the next step of the journey. As far as clothes– it’s said we keep the same styles we adopted as teenagers– I know I wear many of the same things now– cordory jeans, sweaters, green eye shadow. Creatures of habit?


    • It’s amazing how we don’t always know the lasts when we’re in the middle of them. That last year of high school, everything feels like a last… but who really remembers that last kiddy swim class, last wee-one picnic, the last time they crawled into bed with you? It’s gone in a flash. I agree, the teen years (though VERY challenging) have been so fun! But I admit, I do miss the little cuddle moments and the days when they thought I was THE best… at everything! 😉 My style, thank goodness, has morphed over the years, but my friends would say that I’ve always had my own look (they do say that).


  7. Mike Lince says:

    My parenting years are well behind me. I now enjoy the ROI – return on investment – that comes from being a grandparent. You brought back some memories of those early parenting years, reading the parenting guides, attending parenting classes, attending parent-child group sessions, volunteering at the pre-school and every school since. I remember in one of those early parenting classes a couple who were so proud of their ‘good baby’. One time they asked, ‘What do you do if you have the perfect child?’ Without waiting for the instructor to respond I blurted, ‘Rent them out!’

    Being a few years your senior, I would like to impart an observation based on my age and wisdom. You are beautiful! No amount of facial lines, spotted skin and other signs of maturing can hide it. That is the wonderful thing about aging. When you are so full of love it shines through more vividly than the surface image we associate with and often envy in younger people. (And I won’t apologize if I made you blush.) 🙂 – Mike


    • And blush I did. Thanks Mike. I always love hearing your input as a dad who’s raised kids. It’s a perspective that we don’t read nearly as much about. Thanks for taking the time, and for starting my day off with a blush. (that doesn’t happen much either! 😉 )


  8. Carrie Rubin says:

    Ah, yes, the many phases of motherhood. In retrospect, they look like distinct blocks of time, but in reality, they seamlessly meld together. Before we know it, our kids have become young adults, and we have become middle aged. Cardigans and all. 🙂


  9. jgroeber says:

    Oh, I love this. I love that you are the still the woman who is the Waffle Lady and Mama to your lovely brood, and now you are also the woman who is making her own way again. I think we are always all these things, you know? And perhaps the mirror can be our friend if we recognize the beauty in the laugh lines, the sun spots that are mementos of too many playgrounds and beach days. (I’m still working on that, too!) As always, your candor and love is a wonderful treat to find in my inbox.


    • Thanks so much Jen. I love reading your beautiful posts about those younger mama years. You say it all so movingly! I really appreciate you stopping by to share your thoughts and read my work. We moms can stick together and learn from each other! 🙂


  10. Lovely post, lovely mother, lovely you.


  11. sasharo says:

    I am right at the beginning with a 2 1/2 and just turned 1 year old. This is beautiful and an encouragement to relish each day because I know they will fly by. . . Even though at times they are quite challenging. 😉


    • Welcome to Tales From the Motherland Sasharo! Thanks so much for taking the time to read and comment; it’s much appreciated. Trust me, it’s very hard to stay centered in any phase of parenting. The challenges only grow with the years, but that early phase is so exhausting… in hours and demands alone! It does fly, and yet it seems like both a minute ago and light years ago since I pushed my girl on that swing! Put aside some time for yourself; remember to take care of your dreams and inspirations too. And yes, enjoy the moments. 😉


  12. go Mama O says:

    This post brought tears to my eyes! My kids are 2 & 4 and it’s our last summer before the oldest starts 4k. Parenting IS such a journey!


    • Welcome to TFTM, and thank you so much for taking the time to read this post and share your thoughts; it’s much appreciated. It is indeed a journey, go Mama O! What an adventure for your 4 year old… and you! It’s a twisty turny journey, for sure. 😀


  13. etomczyk says:

    And I am further along the path than you, but I feel the same way as you do. Every time someone famous dies from the baby boomer realm, I subtract my age from theirs and think: so I may have 15 – 20 years left . . . yikes! Do you know how fast 15 – 20 years flies and how I’m still farting around with things that just don’t matter. Your post helps me to rethink my daily choices and to really try and get with the program. Thanks so much. (You look gorgeous as a 22-year-old mom, and you look gorgeous now as well.)


    • Thanks so much Eleanor! Those mothers, that are further down the path have been my mentors and guides. I never get tired of their generous words and help. For the record, I do that math thing too! The numbers keep rushing up at me!


  14. This was so beautiful. And I’m all melancholy now before bed. That idea that we don’t always know our lasts when we are in the middle of them. I think I’m going to go sneak a few snuggles with my sleeping children. Thanks, Dawn. I needed this reminder to slow down and appreciate the moment.


  15. Amy Reese says:

    What a great post, Dawn. I started late too, putting my husband through school. I worked while he went through a Ph.D. program, etc. So, my kids are 7 and 11, young, but I really feel the passing of time. Something you said in your post kind of hit me…we don’t celebrate the little last times, because don’t know that’s what they are at the time…the last day at the park as wee ones, in the kiddie pool, etc.That is very true. I am still very tired, and know that so much lies ahead, but also that much has passed already!


    • Thanks so much, Amy, and thanks for sharing my post on Twitter. I really appreciate the enthusiastic support. More and more, I think that starting a little later has some real perks. I think you’re more settled and you may not miss as much? When you’re younger, you have the energy, but it’s overwhelming and daunting. When you’re older, you have more experience behind you and have your identity more secure, but then you’re more tired, maybe? The grass is always greener… right. :-/


  16. Amy Reese says:

    P.S. I love the photos. They are beautiful…all of them!


  17. Beautiful as always and I really liked the pictures. You and I have talked about this before and I feel like I’m that new mom at the track field yet I’m reading your stories, looking for wisdom that I know you have to give me. And sometimes, I look in the mirror even now, and I almost don’t recognize myself. I feel so different now,as a mom. My life has changed completely and that’s the part I struggle with. I welcome it, but I struggle with it.


  18. Principessa says:

    You look really beautiful in those photos of us together. Especially the last one of just you. We should do a 20 years later….


  19. Equipping The Saints says:

    Your blog is very interesting; I am following it. Please check out my blog; you might find it to be of interest to you. Blessings to you,

    Senior Pastor/Equipping the Saints
    Philip 3:10, “That I May Know Him”



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