My two daughters just left to go back to college after a few short days home for Thanksgiving. With four years having a child in college, I’ve learned that it’s not as difficult saying good-bye after this particular visit, because we know Christmas break is mere days away. In that spirit, my oldest hugged me good-bye and said “I’ll see you in a few minutes.”

Instead of comfort, her words sent a wave of sadness through me.

Time passing cuts both ways. Just as we hope the time away from our children will whiz by, so do the moments we have them. I went into parenting eyes wide open. But I was not prepared for what could happen in the blink of an eye.

In today’s melancholy moment, I remembered a poem I wrote when my youngest entered middle school. As their dad drove them to the airport, I pulled it out … and had myself a good cry.

woman's high heel shoe

by Becky Blades

When did it happen?

When did she slip out
of that safe place
my never-to-lose things?

I’ve been watching
every minute.

So when did it happen?

When did she grow
stunning and tall standing
and not as demanding?

When did she grow
plans and schedules
and orbits around her?

When did she grow
up and

What did it look like
the day
she outgrew
reading out loud at bedtime?

And leaving the milk out?

And needing me
every part of every day?

I tried to keep the paper tabs
from tearing.

I tried to keep them
wrapped loosely
around her
keeping her
merely modestly covered,
never smothered.

I tried to remember
that my grip
was a fleeting fashion.

I tried not to notice
when the tabs broke, mercifully, one at a time
whispering kindly
that our shift was nearly done.

I tried only to wink
to never close both eyes at the same time
to always see enough
to make
the timing

I must have.

I must have blinked.
paper doll issustration


  1. Becky Blades December 1, 2014 at 10:09 am - Reply

    I’ve always said that God made only one mistake: he forgot to put an alarm on those moments that signaled the last time our children did something . . . fell asleep in our arms, reached for our hand, spilled the whole box of Cheerios.

  2. Carol Cassara December 1, 2014 at 10:44 am - Reply

    Lovely. I know a few moms who would enjoy it and I will send them your way!

  3. Sharon Greenthal December 1, 2014 at 2:53 pm - Reply

    Beautiful poem, and it’s all so true.

    • Becky Blades December 1, 2014 at 3:53 pm - Reply

      Thank you, Sharon. You are a role model for us all.

  4. penpen December 1, 2014 at 3:32 pm - Reply

    It doesn’t get easier. soon you’ll want that alarm to ring the last time they were more turned into their parents than to friends and then their new family. Post-college, both my children moved to cities far from mine. Whenever I visit, I leave with the same oh-so-heavy lump in my throat. Your poem captures it all. Now the lump has to cover grandchildren as well.

    • Becky Blades December 1, 2014 at 3:56 pm - Reply

      I’m certain my girls will live in other cities, too. One has already accepted a job offer half the continent away. I’m bracing myself. Thank you for sharing.

  5. Lisa Weiss December 1, 2014 at 9:20 pm - Reply

    I teared up reading this. My girls are 23 and 15. I still try not to blink.

    • Tracey December 2, 2014 at 8:46 am - Reply

      Me neither.

  6. Tracey December 2, 2014 at 8:42 am - Reply

    OMG, thank you so much for being honest & sharing! Am glad I’m not alone with the way I feel and see things having two College “baby girls” .. we are and have always been close, love them beyond words, they are my everything, not the Tiger or helicopter Mom I am told and thought I was!!!
    Live life large, loud and with so much love!!!
    Proud Mom of two beautiful girls, my husband, my parent’s and family are very lucky & proud, hence my post!
    THANK YOU :)

    • Becky Blades December 2, 2014 at 8:57 am - Reply

      From one proud mom to another, let’s be proud of ourselves, too. A little bit helicopter, a little bit Tiger and a little bit crazy best friend – somehow we protected these lovable creatures to adulthood.

  7. Tracey December 2, 2014 at 8:44 am - Reply

    I won’t ever blink without thinking again!:)

  8. Jill Simpson December 2, 2014 at 8:48 pm - Reply

    This is such a beautiful poem and captures it all so perfectly!

  9. Laura Schmidt December 6, 2014 at 8:55 am - Reply

    Becky, Thank you for sharing your beautiful words.

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do your laundry or die alone author becky blades

Becky Blades, Author of Do Your Laundry or You’ll Die Alone, and contributor to Huffington Post,, Scary Mommy, and Grown & Flown.