Growing Like Weeds

1848 1848_ () 1848 1848 Weekly column
One recent Sunday morning, the boys shuffled downstairs as we began the frantic rush towards a timely arrival at early Mass.

The first thing I noticed, as Boys One and Two emerged, was the desperate need for haircuts. The coifs were sky-high and I wondered how our usual morning hair care (spraying heads with water, combing to the side) would put even a dent in the raging bed-head.

Equally distressing was the pant-length on these boys. Pants that fit not two days ago were suddenly past the ankles. Floods were a-comin’.

“That’s not going to work,” I said, noting the high-waters.

“This is all I have,” said one boy.

Right around this time, the oldest came down the stairs trying to button a pair of pants that seemed to have shrunk in the wash. I could have sworn he wore these same corduroys to Mass last week, but as I watched him finagle the zipper, the pants were a postage-stamp rendering of their former selves.

“We’ve got to go shopping today,” I told my son. To my utter amazement, he happily agreed.

As we headed out the door that morning to Mass, two of the boys sported ankle-length pants – and one of those included a pair of jeans. It was not our most shining moment, but one I am guessing every mother has faced. Children grow, and sometimes they grow so fast you literally need a few days to catch up.

In the midst of this growth-spurt madness, I came across a family picture taken several years ago. The picture was on a random shelf, tucked behind a trophy and a piggy bank and barely noticeable. It’s one of those framed photos that you see all the time but never really look at.

When I saw that picture recently – when I really looked at it after so many years – I was shocked by the passage of time.

The picture is of my husband and me and our oldest son. We are at a family wedding where Ethan was the ring-bearer. I had never really loved the shot because it came on the heels of a drastic haircut wherein I had decided I’d look really good with a closely-cropped pixie and it turns out I was wrong.

But now, vanity aside, I looked at that picture and saw something totally different. In the picture, the top of my son’s head comes just above my waist. He stands in front of me and his dad and my boy is tiny and sweet and fits so perfectly right between us.

I realize, as I stare at that picture, that this is how I see my boy. He is still that little boy who is at my elbow, whose head I rub by lowering my hands (not raising them!), whose face I cup, whose tiny body I lift to my own and hug with all my might.

Imagine my surprise when we were out on that recent pants-shopping trip and I realized this miniature image of my son was no longer accurate.

As we walked through the store I noticed a lot of women walking around with teens and it took my breath away when it clicked – I am one of those women! I too have a child who is nearly the same height as me, a child whose voice gets a little deeper every day, whose legs are growing by the minute.

The passage of time is tricky. Some days I want my boys to stay little forever, but I know this cannot be – and it shouldn’t be. My sons need to grow and change and sometimes these changes happen overnight.

The beautiful thing, what makes this all slightly less heartbreaking, is the chance we have to watch these changes and help a little along the way. And we get to meet a whole new person in the midst of this, someone who greatly resembles a child we used to know, who in many ways will always be that child. 1848″



  1. Mary Elizabeth says:

    Chuck Norris eats the core of an apple first. Happy birthday Chuck!

  2. Anonymous says:

    Ahhh…your last paragraph finds this pregnant woman sobbing! I love your stuff.

  3. Michelle says:

    So right there with you! I had to start wearing heels so as to not be shorter than my 13 year old. I guess that is another form of denial. But really, how do you discipline a child who is taller than you?!

  4. Ecce Quam Bonam says:

    And then they go off to school and you feel like bursting into tears when they call to tell you they want to come home because they miss you and miss their bed and miss your cooking.

    And when they do come home, you sometimes do like you did when they were newborns and watch them sleep.

  5. Mrs. 2nd Lieutenant says:

    no, no, no. they never grow up. never ever ever :-p

  6. I think coming to terms with the fact that our children don't stay little forever is one of the hardest things about being a mom. Right now I'm having a really hard time coming to terms with the fact that my youngest is almost too heavy for me to lift her and that she really will be 5 in 4 short months.

    And I lived the I outgrew all my shoes nightmare with my girls one weekend last month. I knew the youngest had outgrown her shoes on Friday, but it wasn't until I was getting their clothes laid out for Mass that I discovered that my older daughter had also outgrown her shoes. I made the poor girl wear tight shoes to Mass and then took her shoe shopping immediately after.

  7. the good life mama says:

    Okay, now I'm crying. Beautiful post.

  8. So beautiful, Rachel!! I laughed at the part about the pants – my 13-year old is on his 3rd size in blue jeans since August. He's my first boy and I am so enjoying the man he is becoming, but I ache sometimes from missing my little boy. He begrudgingly lets me kiss and hug him still….!! 🙂

  9. I couldn't wait for my first baby to grow up and start walking and talking. I felt so alone as a stay-at-home mom to someone who I could not really have a conversation with. And, I find that I still can't wait for the next stage. But, this post made me realize also that although I look forward to each new stage that is to come, it also comes at a price. I will enjoy each day that I have with each child at the stages they are at. Thank you!

  10. Beautifully written! It's hard watching our little boys turn into young men.

  11. Sharon P says:

    I rememeber one time when my son was little his feet grew soo fast that he literally had no shoes to wear. He was still young enough to fit in a stroller, so we took him to the store in his socks and stroller. I look back now and think "what was the big deal?" but at the time I felt embarrased for not realizing how small his shoes had become. Now that he is 10 ..I realized that there are LOTS of other things for me to be embarrased about sometimes 😉

  12. Marcy K. says:

    I can relate. My 14 year old is now bigger than my husband. He wore his dad's suit to a fancy party. I could not believe it!

  13. So true! I have a new baby boy. His brothers are 11, 9, and 8. Now that the baby is here they look absolutely gigantic and I am reminded every day how quickly the time goes by and how fast they grow. It makes me want to run and squeeze them all tight! It is also helping me to take more time to enjoy the smallness of my little new one.

  14. Angela in VA says:

    My son now has feet the same size as mine. They keep growing! We have had to buy new shoes three times int he last 6 months. I want to cry for two reasons, my boys is growing up and my wallet is empty! 😉