A Thousand Goodbyes

Every day, my children leave behind a trail of change—for me, those changes morph into memories that I scramble to save and savor.I light candles on birthday cakes and snap pictures, laughing at my child’s delight—all the while swallowing back a lump in my throat forming at the thought of the thousand little goodbyes that day represents.Goodbye, pacifier, blankie, sippie cup, toddler bed. Goodbye, Little People and Playmobil. Goodbye, Dr. Seuss and Dora the Explorer.Goodbye, childhood.And yet, I know that I’ve deepened and matured through this life of goodbyes.When he was little, my son called oatmeal “opa-meal,” the Pledge of Allegiance the “fledge” of allegiance, and pancakes were “pampakes.”For a long time he said “pomatoes” for tomatoes.We were working on letter sounds with him one day. Studying black-line drawings of nouns that start with the “t” sound, he understood that each word began with that hard “t-t-t.””T-t-tire” he said while looking at the picture, then proudly glancing up for affirmation.”That’s right.””T-t-turtle.”“Yep.””T-t–what is that flower?””A tulip.””Oh! It’s pretty. T-t-tulip.”Keeping the rhythm, he looked at the next picture and said “P-p…” He stopped, realizing that he wasn’t making the “t” sound, even though he was pretty sure he was looking at a pomato. He started again, “P-p…” He stared at it. “What is this thing?” he asked.With the pang that accompanies goodbyes, I reluctantly said, “A t-t-tomato. It’s a to-ma-to.””Tomato?” He was perfectly capable of saying it.”Yes,” I sighed, “a tomato.””Oh. T-t-tomato.”Goodbye, pomato.

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  • Comments

    1. Oh and it just tears up a bit of a mama’s heart, doesn’t it?

      My middle child said “My” in place of “I” for years. “My am going to go get dressed . . .” and I never corrected him because it was just this little piece of babyhood that clung to him in spite of his long legs and big boy vocabulary. And then one day it stopped . . .

      Sighs.

    2. Ours was Chicka-Fila and pana-cake. Although at 12 and 15, they still sometimes go back to calling them these things just to make me smile. SIGH.

    3. You miss those good-byes even more when the boys turn into young men. The little good-byes turn into large and life transforming good-byes. Good-byes at the last graduation, good-byes to the clothes as they walk out of the room, good-bye to the youngest as he heads off into the Navy (this July). I don’t know that I have matured or moved along with these big good-byes. With the little ones, those guys were still home.
      Blessing on Mother’s Day, Ann.
      Janis

    4. I loved this post – good bye to babyhood now only with its memories.

      Our oldest a boy learned to speak well, but it was the next one a girl who chattered without meaning (to me.) I would ask Steve to translate and he would let me know what she wanted.

    5. Happy Mother’s Day, sweet Ann. Occupational hazard, I suppose–all these little goodbyes. Thank you for this sweet post today.

    6. My youngest had this strange little speech impediment until she was in 1st grade. She couldn’t pronounce so many constanants – “S”, “F”, “J”, and she would substitute all these other contanants instead. It was so cute. I actually recorded her saying, “See the fox run (hee da hok wun)” and “I love Jesus (I wa hee-a).” She’s 17 now, and I still watch those videos of her when she was 3 or 4, and it breaks my heart somehow.

    7. One of those words we lost was “gemote,” as in the “remote”–the thing used to control the TV. The chid who used that word would prefer that I not remember, so I won’t say which child it was. :)

    8. Yes, it is tough to swallow. My youngest turned 4 this month, and I can’t help but long for her baby-ness to shine through. The reality is that she is growing up, and saying goodbye to those things is just part of it.

    9. I love the treasured memories of butchered language!

    10. This one got me. I am now recirculating all that old vocabulary, and grateful that few words have stuck around. My girls still call their grandpa “Bop.” Even though they obviously know how to say Grandpa.

      GREAT writing, Ann.

    11. This one got me. I am now recirculating all that old vocabulary, and grateful that a few words have stuck around. My girls still call their grandpa “Bop.” Even though they obviously know how to say Grandpa.

      GREAT writing, Ann.

    12. How precious!

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