Kids On A Train, Or, Saturday Morning at 9:32am


I’ve been missing my kids lately. Partly it’s because I haven’t seen them in three months. I’m still governed by the school calendar. “What happened,” I wonder, “to Spring Break?” My daughter works for a living and takes grownup vacations. My son decided to stay on campus this year, watching basketball and writing stories. Princeton lost its NCCA game to Kentucky, by one point. Not bad.

But today I miss my kids because they are together. They like each other, those two. And I can see, in my mind’s eye, their heads close as they ride the train up to New York City. Hers, new penny red, his, dark brown. They’ve both got good hair. My daughter, without blow dryers, develops actual ringlets. My son’s boy hair sticks up straight if he sleeps on it wrong.

They are 23 and almost 21. I suppose I shouldn’t be talking about their hair as though they were toddlers, when it all belonged to me. Still, I imagine my son reading, head bent. I imagine my daughter, as she does sometimes, resting her head on his shoulder, peacefully for a minute, and then, because she likes nothing more than to engage, turning her face up and staring, just to be a pest.

I see them laughing.

I remember how it was when they were small. I’d lie down on the sofa to read, or just to rest. My son would clamber up, chubby feet and all, to cuddle. Then my daughter would come lie down on my other side. Quiet and peaceful. For a minute. Maybe two.

Then someone would touch someone. And someone would nudge someone, and before you knew it I was lying underneath what felt like a tied up sack of cats. Two children had far more than their fare share of knees and elbows. I’d always jump up and run away. Me exasperated, they in that odd childhood state of wrangling for fun until somebody cries. As I look back, now, I don’t feel any exasperation at all. I loved them pokey and I loved them soft. Still do, albeit more abstractly.

It’s pouring rain. If somebody could tell New York to please send us back our weather, after my kids are finished, of course, I’d appreciate it. Have a wonderful weekend.

48 Comments

  • 03/19/11
    10:32 am

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    Miss Cavendish said...

    The same couch/reading experience happened to me last night. And as much as it exasperates me now, I know that I will hold the memory dear in the future . . .

  • 03/19/11
    11:24 am

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    K-Line said...

    Good hair is key! What a lovely post…

  • 03/19/11
    12:34 pm

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    metscan said...

    Your post is so intense, I can feel it. You miss your kids, me too : ).

  • 03/19/11
    12:39 pm

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    materfamilias said...

    Lovely post. I note we both have curly-haired red-headed daughters — and we also take pleasure in knowing our kids are enjoying each other’s company, even in our absence. I’m always happy, when I phone up one of mine, to find s/he has a sibling over for dinner or is heading out for drinks with a brother/sister or has just come in from a pedi with a sister (so far, we’re not going gender-neutral on that last item, not in our family at the moment, anyway). Indeed, right now, as we’re far from all of them, I like to think that at least two of them will hang out today. . .

  • 03/19/11
    1:42 pm

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    Preppy 101 said...

    Wonderful post that rings true to all of us moms in some form. I’m a few years ahead of you on this road with/without children as mine are 31 and 27 and married. I find that there is comfort in knowing mine are together; moreover, I am delighted that mine, too, like each other. How blessed you and I are! Have a great weekend. xoxo

  • 03/19/11
    2:16 pm

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    The Daily Connoisseur said...

    This is a beautiful post- I teared up reading it! My baby girl is 8 months now and I know one day I will be going through the same thing… it goes by too fast xx

  • 03/19/11
    2:22 pm

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    Elizabeth said...

    I do love reading this. I’m still so in the thick of that tangle of knees and elbows and poking and laughing that I do sometimes forget to appreciate it!

  • 03/19/11
    3:06 pm

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    Marion Driessen said...

    Sweet post. Children will always be ‘small’, no matter how old they are :)

  • 03/19/11
    3:09 pm

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    janeyann said...

    I love your comment about your children’s hair as toddlers, “when it all belonged to me.” That’s exactly how I feel…it did belong to us for such a short time.

  • 03/19/11
    3:16 pm

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    Kathy said...

    I love the mental picture of your kids traveling together, and the “when they belonged to me” thought. I just got back from visiting College Boy, in school way far away. It’s all good– but still, not the same. Thanks for articulating so well some of the same feelings I have. . .

  • 03/19/11
    3:34 pm

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    RoseAG said...

    Last week was Spring Break for my boys; they both appeared Friday night. Saturday morning, first thing after Body Jam, I headed to the grocery store.

    A week later I opened my fridge — and it’s got some serious bald spots. Two hundred dollars, where did it go? Did they eat that much when they lived at home?

    One is graduating this May, the other will be getting out of graduate school next year. I worry. Will they find work? I’d had the older one by the time I was his age. How will their lives unfurl? Obviously not like my husband and mine’s.

    Probably I’m better off fretting about another weekend of cooking, and leaving the big concerns to God. Some problems are beyond the power of a mother.

  • 03/19/11
    3:59 pm

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    Christina Lindsay said...

    What a lovely post and beautifully written.

    My dad says he only remembers the good bits. I was a terrible child. I think that’s probably what put me off having any myself!

    Good hair is a wonderful thing xx

  • 03/19/11
    4:04 pm

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    Tara said...

    Such sweet memories! I’m now at the point where my three crawl on me (and each other) in a tangle of knees, elbows, and enthusiasm that sometimes ends up with me a little worse for the wear. I love every precious minute.

  • 03/19/11
    4:31 pm

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    Terri said...

    For so many years, I felt the very thing you describe here, but my longing for my grown children was inchoate. And then, after age 25, they began to return to me. And it is the grand-children who wrestle in my lap.

  • 03/19/11
    4:38 pm

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    Nellie Bragg said...

    How wonderful that they are friends! I can feel your longing, however. This is quite a different week-end for us here. Our three daughters will actually be here overnight, sleeping under the same roof, tonight! Also, the morning will begin with the “alarm clocks” – the 7-year old grandson and the 4 1/2 year old granddaughter.:-) Our son-in-law was here last night, but had to return home as he is a minister, and those Sunday duties certainly do “mess up” a week-end.:-) Kentucky also took care of a few dreams our Vols might have had in the regular SEC season.

    Wishing you a week of sunshine!

  • 03/19/11
    5:16 pm

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    meghan said...

    Gorgeous post. As a newly pregnant person, I spend my quiet moments wondering about that hair, those knees and pokey elbows to come.

  • 03/19/11
    5:42 pm

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    Meg said...

    Beautiful. Beautiful.

  • 03/19/11
    6:35 pm

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    the gardeners cottage said...

    hi lisa,

    them were the days. omg, how i miss them. the absolute best days of my life.

    xo
    janet

  • 03/19/11
    7:20 pm

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    hostessofthehumblebungalow said...

    Gulp…

    Lisa your love is felt here, north of the US border, in the Humble Bungalow…

    Sometimes your posts make me cry…

  • 03/19/11
    8:30 pm

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    Jessica said...

    I can feel the missing going on in your heart…hope it’s not to long before you get to see them again and maybe even ‘wrangle’ with them again. ;)

    btw – I think we have your weather today…first no jacket day of the year…loved it! Just remember, all that rain is creating more green and making prettier flowers.
    xo J~

  • 03/19/11
    8:51 pm

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  • 03/19/11
    10:14 pm

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    Sydney Shop Girl said...

    Well said K-line. Good hair is key and I really enjoyed today’s post, Lisa.

    SSG xxx

  • 03/20/11
    12:57 am

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    Joy said...

    I wonder if my own mum thinks of me this way sometimes, when I’m all the way across the Pacific from her.

  • 03/20/11
    1:31 am

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    Vivelavie said...

    What a moving post! This must be what my 80ish mother says she feels when she thinks of my sister (46) and me (50) who have – quite by chance – come to live in the same city now. We used to be very close, then grew apart but since my sister moved here and had her two kids, aged two and a half and 6 months now, we’ve grown close again. So picture the four of us hanging around on her couch, late mom, late aunt and two lovely and bright blonde little girls who demand entertainment. Bliss.

  • 03/20/11
    3:37 am

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    AN said...

    Awww! Love this one. As mum to a lovely 3 year old boy ( who absolutely ‘belongs’ to me, baby smell and all) I can just ‘get’ this post!

  • 03/20/11
    4:48 am

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    Reggie Darling said...

    What a sweet post, m’dear. Lovely, really.

  • 03/20/11
    4:55 am

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    Buckeroomama said...

    Your posts where you write about your children are among my favorites. :)

  • 03/20/11
    5:21 am

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    EntertainingMom said...

    I love that your children are actual friends but am sorry that you can’t be there to join them. Your post makes me miss them too!

  • 03/20/11
    5:43 am

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    Ida Morel said...

    Your post wrenches at my heart for past sweet memories.Thank you for a beautiful post. Ida

  • 03/20/11
    7:29 am

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    LISA H. said...

    I feel your pain….however….I do love my new best friends I have developed within my children. At 28 & 26…in the older two…they have become my companions in travel. Then…when we are in the same city, it’s the movies..and bar-b-que….luncheons and dinners. Best of all…long conversations about when they were like ‘tied up sack of cats’.

  • 03/20/11
    10:35 am

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    Twenty Four At Heart said...

    Awww … what a great post. My daughter came home for her spring break this year, bringing Boston friends who had never been to California. My son enjoyed his spring break in florida. Selfishly, I hope they both move back to California once they’re done with school.

  • 03/20/11
    1:45 pm

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    Jacqueline said...

    I loved this post so much. My kids aren’t toddlers anymore, but they still climb all over me and fight like two kittens. This reminds me to to enjoy it for the “here and now-ness” of it all. I do hope my son and daughter grow up to be excellent friends, like your children are. That would make me so happy!

  • 03/20/11
    5:41 pm

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    Karena said...

    Oh it is so heart wrenching to be away from the children oo gtanchildren too long!!

    Lisa, do come and enter to win my luscious Bath & Body giveaway!

    xoxo
    Karena
    Art by Karena

  • 03/21/11
    8:37 am

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    Pink Martinis and Pearls said...

    Somehow we think as moms if they are together, don’t we belong there too? Know you thought of them all weekend. I’ve never gotten used to the real world vacations and even harder to think of our children doing so. I feel your longing.

  • 03/21/11
    8:50 am

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    Lisa said...

    Miss Cavendish – I’m glad you know that. I am just happy I can still remember now:).

    K-Line – Ha! Thank you.

    Mette – Some things cross all cultures.

    Mater – Curly-haired redheads rock. And so do sibling friendships. I feel the same way about mine. How fortunate you are in your large brood.

    Preppy 101 – Thank you. How joyful to have your children married.

    The Daily Connoisseur – Enjoy your baby, as I am sure you do. Which isn’t to say that babies aren’t sometimes almost more work than we can do.

  • 03/21/11
    8:50 am

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    Lisa said...

    Elizabeth – Oh anyone who says childrearing is all joy and awe is fibbing:). It’s just making sure there are some moments that you can carry forward all your life, with love.

    Marion – Thank you very much. My father used to call my younger siblings, “the littles.” So sweet.

    janeyann – Now I’m a little bit crying. Such a short time.

    Kathy – You are very welcome. I bet College Boy, in his heart, loved having you there. The funny part is that afternoon my daughter emailed to say they hadn’t gone to New York after all. When we’re imagining them, we’re often going to get it wrong. At least we do it with affection.

    RoseAG – We can feed them, when they are home. And then when they’re grown I have come to believe that we help them best by letting them make mistakes. Not the big ones, maybe, if we know better. But all sorts of other stuff they learn most from experiencing. Or at least I hope so much that I am right.

  • 03/21/11
    8:51 am

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    Christina – Thank you very much. I try to say there are no bad children, no bad babies. Only some more more work than others. Still, there’s absolutely no reason in the world anyone who doesn’t want children should have them.

    Tara – Oh those little bodies.

    Nellie – Thank you. What adorable alarm clocks. And to have all 3 daughters together…

    Meghan – Thank you. You are already getting to know the knees and elbows. You are already a mother. Congratulations.

    Meg – Oh, thank you. Thank you very much.

    Janet – The absolute best days of our lives. So full of unconditional love.

  • 03/21/11
    8:51 am

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    Lisa said...

    Hostess – I would never want to make you cry. That said, I know you have your children nearby and a delicious grand-daughter to smooch and cuddle:).

    Jessica – I do wrangle them a bit. They tell me to cut it out now:). I know you are right about the rain but I am so ready for our summer of endless blue skies…

    Woolgathering – What you said:).

    SSG – Thank you. And here’s to good hair all over the world!

    Joy – Oh I have no doubt at all.

    Vivelavie – Bliss. And I know this is how your mother feels. What a lovely image.

  • 03/21/11
    8:53 am

    Reply

    Lisa said...

    AN – Aw. Thank you.

    Reggie – My pleasure, my dear.

    Buckeroomama – Thank you so much for hanging around here, and for continuing to give me my Josh and Zoe fixes.

    EntertainingMom – I love your great big heart.

    Ida – Oh, thank you so much.

    Lisa H. – Yes, I love to look back with my kids too, and hear how and what they remember of those days.

  • 03/21/11
    8:54 am

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    Lisa said...

    Twenty Four – Oh thank you. I have told my kids too, I want them home once they have children:). Lord knows if I have a shot at it.

    Jacqueline – My children fought like crazy as little ones. Round about the time my daughter figured out that my son made a good playmate, the friendship began. Thank you.

    Karena – I entered!

    Pink Martinis – And then, of course, my daughter told me a story about how they didn’t go to NYC, they had brunch instead. The story involved cockroaches jumping onto tables, and free food as a result:). But still, they said, they both laughed hysterically. So that part was right.

  • 03/21/11
    9:05 am

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    QueenBeeSwain said...

    Of course all mothers love their children madly, but you love your two the way that MoMo loves my sis and me and this reflection made me smile and that is exactly how I hope to love my own kidlets one day too :)

    xoox

    kHm

  • 03/21/11
    9:54 am

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    Susan Tiner said...

    It is also a great pleasure for me, knowing that my children enjoy each other.

  • 03/21/11
    10:46 am

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    Stephanie said...

    Such a sweet post. You’ve perfectly captured in your charming way the way that children relate to each other and to us. Loved it.

  • 03/21/11
    2:22 pm

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    Amanda said...

    The noggins of littles, big and small.

  • 03/22/11
    12:52 am

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    Cate Subrosa said...

    Must. Make. More. Babies.

  • 03/22/11
    2:49 pm

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    rb said...

    oh, I too have an older daughter and younger son (ages 10 and 8 now) and I can only imagine, with dread, missing them this way. Your words are so evocative. I promise to remember your post when mine are driving me up the wall- and I’m sure you remember those days as well.

  • 03/26/11
    2:25 pm

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    mise said...

    I’m still at that sofa stage, but I can look forward and see that I’ll be you. And I wonder what they think of your blogging, and their role as adeptly drawn characters in occasional posts. I imagine they are pretty proud of you.

  • 03/29/11
    7:21 pm

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    Courtney Fullerton said...

    Your posts on parenting are always my favorites … your love is as thick as the peanut butter I spread on my morning toast, and surely as satisfying to them. Is that a weird image? It is what flits through my mind.

    At any rate, I look forward to the adventure of raising children all the more, because of posts like these. Thank you.

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