baby pic

About 2 minutes ago my eldest child was born.
Okay, maybe it was 3.
But it doesn’t really matter, that exact number.
What matters is it just happened. It truly just happened.

A second after, my stepmother wisely said,
“The days can be long, the years are so very very short.”
I didn’t quite get it at the time.
But damn if she wasn’t right.

See, here’s the thing:
He’s off this morning,
A brand new chapter has begun.

High school.
The core of the Americana teenage experience.
High school.

He’s off.

And I swear to you, only about 3 minutes have passed.
Or maybe four, since the moment he was born.

I feel almost silly writing this,
“Jesus Jilan—it’s only high school”;
I hear the self critic in my mind.

Yet, I am one of those, you know,one of those that was born with their heart pretty much on the outside.
With their heart kind of a tiny bit broken from day one.
Not sure why.
And I don’t mind it. not one little bit.
It just is.
One of those big damn hearts that feels even the smallest thing in a big damn way.
So, today, even with that other voice saying,
“It’s merely the beginning of high school—get over yourself”,
It’s breakin’ my freakin’ heart wide open.
Right into two.

He truly was just born, that guy.
Truly, just three or maybe four minutes ago.
Tiny and cautious from the start.
Due on my birthday, arriving five days later,
The last day of leo which I always liked somehow.
Eyes were like chocolate velvet, big and knowing.
His tiny body so, well, so very tiny.

He was born down the street from our first home.
And he and we moved cross country just 8 weeks later.
He learned to crawl at that little house in Santa Cruz;
And on his papa’s birthday he took his first steps.

He turned one and then two there, in that little house on Laurent Street.
Just up from the Food Bin, one of those iconic old health food stores.
And just down from UCSC, with all of its students booming up and down our street all day.

Then that Halloween we moved ‘up the hill’, as we now-locals like to call it, claiming this mountain town as ours.
We found our tribe—he learned to bike and swim, and read.
Still always making sure, watching, observing, with those velvet eyes of his.

Somehow it slid by.
Sometimes a trickle,
Sometimes lightening speed.
A sister came and then a brother.

All those grades.
Whammo. Just gone.

That boy who stayed on mama’s lap for many of his years somehow became big.
Towering over me.
A rock n roller.
A band?
On stages?
All of it.
And there were always those velvet eyes.

Then the past sixty seven days came and went.
Again, lightening speed.

I had dreamed of long late nights, quiet late mornings.
And we had them, we had almost every one of them together,
Me and this boy of mine.
Somehow I had imagined it would be so slow.
It would at least be slower.
That we’d have enough time;
That I would be so completely ready for today.
Longing for my ‘own’ time.
To write more, to photograph more.
To get organized, to get my act back together after this long luscious break.

But then it was last night, the hours after the little two were sleeping.
It was the quiet “i’m nervous, mom”.
Expressions shared.
His music played that touched the essence of this moment.
Bon Iver. Regina Spektor.
The observation of this boy-almost-man who was born,
I swear to you, just three or four minutes ago, preparing to let go.
Preparing to move forward.
Preparing to take this on.
In his way.
In the way only he can do.

Hopping bravely into the car of a friend, barely looking back.
Looking ahead.
As ready as he could be.
Letting go.
Those velvet eyes.

Heart on sleeve.
Torn open slightly.
Finding it hard to believe that I, who has a photograph for every moment of his entire life, didn’t even snap a one of ’em.
Not one.

And now, sliding through so many images from days gone by on this slow motion film track in my mind, wondering where all those moments between then and now have gone.
The photographs. The time.
Letting go.
Looking forward.
Being here.

“Instant nostalgia” I recently heard.
Instant nostalgia.
No two words sum it better.
Instant nostalgia.

Blessings on you ljg, as we always say at our goodbyes.
Blessings on you…
All the day through.
All the year through.
All of high school through.
Blessings on you, ljg,
For all the rest of your days.

I know the boy who left this morning, I know him ever so well.
Maybe that is why I didn’t need to photograph the moment.
I look forward though, as the moments tick tock by today, to the the young man who re-enters this afternoon.

Life as I know it.
August 15, 2012.

For more from Jilan Carroll Glorfield see her blog 11th and Lombard.


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Comments (14)


  1. Posted by: TrishO

    Beautiful. My oldest started middle school this week. I know in a blink he will be in high school. It goes too fast.

  2. Posted by: Vanessa

    Such beautiful words. Such true feelings. Thank you for sharing

  3. Posted by: Erin Marra

    Approaching my son’s thirteenth birthday with many of the same feelings!

  4. Posted by: Jessica

    Tears from this. Captures the ache of being a mother so well and the infinite love mothers carry around with them with the constant expansion and contraction of motherhood.

  5. Posted by: Janice

    This is sooo real, so raw, so lovely….Thank you for sharing this….

  6. Posted by: amy grace

    my heart is on my sleeve too. or rather, i clutch it. this got me straight through it. beautiful…

  7. Posted by: Ruth

    My daughter started kindergarten today. This was a perfect start to my morning and to our very special day.

  8. Posted by: Lindsey

    Thank you for this! My little baby is almost one and already it’s slipping by so fast. I know I’m going to feel just like this in 14 years. Just like it! I love description of the heart being on the outside, a little bit broken from day one. Totally get that. xo

  9. Posted by: Barry

    I know this might get a mother to tear up – but right here you have a dad with a lump the size of Cleveland clogging his throat and eyes blurry. Damn you, Jilan. Thank you, Jilan.

  10. Posted by: Hannah

    What a beautiful sentiment. Just love <3

  11. Posted by: kim

    oh I thought I had stumbled on another post about someone’s first or last child heading off to kindergarten – sweet and touching but doesn’t bring me to tears. But high school? My oldest starts in two weeks (well, we homeschool but it’s still high school!!!) Wow! It has gone so fast and I do truly think she was only born a few minutes ago. Surely, that is all the time I have had with her right?

  12. Posted by: Tina, NYC

    So beautiful and so heart breaking because we do feel everything for them, with them, through them and as I write this my 10 month old sleeps next to me. And i am in tears looking at him and imagining all his firsts. Because I can’t imagine my heart going out into this big, uncertain, scary world. yet isn’t that what we all dream for our kids and work towards? For them not to need us. For them To be able to navigate this world on their own. Thank you for sharing this with us Jilan, your words resonate in my broken heart.

  13. Posted by: karsta

    That was wonderful Jilan. Thanks for sharing so deeply from your heart. I’m in tears over here, feeling our journey as mamas. My oldest is starting a new school tomorrow and I really can’t believe how fast these years have past. Sometimes I want to just stop it all for a bit. Sending you all love.

  14. Pingback: He’s.Off….A MUST READ | To Those Who Wait

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