I find it hard to write about Riley these days and so I don’t as much as I used to. I’m sure someone with better data visualization skills than what I possess could create a diagram charting your typical blogger-who-is-also-a-parent (see how I dodged that mommy bullet?) and see the downward trend of child-related writings as their kids get older. You start thinking about privacy, I suppose, but for me the issue is really more about my own writing abilities, and how he is becoming more complicated than these dashed-off words can represent.

Babies are simple, if baffling, creatures; toddlers are delicious pint-sized savages who tend to go through similar stages. Riley’s such a little kid and a giant hulking BOY, all at once, and it seems like an oddly fragile, impossible-to-capture age. I wish I could do a better job, if only for my own memories. It’s awful, isn’t it, to think of all the things that will eventually be lost to time—the way they pronounce certain words, the exact crescent of their fingernails against small, grimy hands.

I haven’t thought of him in terms of milestones for quite a while—I suppose I thought the big Firsts were all behind us. But this weekend I took him to his first soccer practice, and oh. Oh, you guys. I thought I was going to burst into ridiculous, humiliating tears, there on the side of the YMCA gym court. My boy, my boy, looking so grown up. His first team sport. Ah, I don’t know, something about those baggy shorts and the real no-shit coach and the way he ran like he was trying to get somewhere instead of the pinwheeling garage-sale physical chaos that usually happens when little kids run—it just knocked me over. I was so goddamned proud of him, and so overwhelmed by how fast the time has gone.


He did really well, too. There was some hesitation when we first got there—his unsure, reluctant toe-scuffings sort of broke my heart, as I know that new-group feeling all too well—but once things got going he had a blast.


Soccer! My god, I can hardly believe it. I mean, really.




44 Responses to “Years”

  1. Gnometree on March 7th, 2010 2:36 pm

    You do realise that you are now a Soccor Mom? I remember feeling the same when my boy played his first Aussie Rules game during half time of the A-Grade match. There are many more milestones to go, and some of them are biggies. First day of elementary school, first school recital, first girlfriend, first heartbreak, first sleepover at a friends house whose parents you only kinda know, first *date*, first day of high school, first day of college, first (and hopefully only) wife, first baby….

  2. Fi on March 7th, 2010 2:45 pm

    Those baggy t shirts…. ahhhh! Well done Riley – here’s to lots more wonderful ‘firsts’!

  3. Gigi on March 7th, 2010 3:04 pm

    Ahh you brought tears to my eyes! I remember that feeling oh so well….but as Gnometree pointed out – you still have some big “firsts” ahead of you. But really? How is it they go from being little guys to big boys so darn quick?

  4. Belle on March 7th, 2010 3:16 pm

    Sigh…..I really miss those days when my kids were Riley’s age, going to all their “firsts”. Enjoy, Linda, it’s a whirlwind of a ride.

  5. Eric's Mommy on March 7th, 2010 3:18 pm

    Riley is such a little man now! I remember when Eric started soccer. Last year when he played I looked over at the Kindergarten kids playing and they looked so small, but that was him just a couple years ago.

  6. 6512 and growing on March 7th, 2010 3:21 pm

    I know, I know. How do they go from booby-guzzling babies to little people who wipe their own butts and play sports?

    Very sweet post.

  7. Gena on March 7th, 2010 3:49 pm

    Wow. I’ve been reading your blog, but not commenting so much lately, since that BIG boy was a baby. It is amazing. Amazing how fast the time goes. Amazing how your life has changed. Amazing that you now have TWO beautiful children. Amazing that you finished that race! What an incredible life you have.

    I can remember when my son, the only boy out of my 4 children, held my hand and I realized that his hand was bigger than mine. We were in the car and I burst into tears. He didn’t get it, but I sure did. He was growing up. Now he is a 6’5″ young man and he is wonderful. I couldn’t ask for a better son. THAT is what you have to look forward to, even if you do forget all those little things that happen when they’re young.

    And, it is so worth it.

  8. warcrygirl on March 7th, 2010 3:52 pm

    Awwww, I remember those days with my two boys. It’s hard to believe they were that small once. When Riley scores his first goal you will lose. Your. Shit. Please blog about it when it happens, I’d love to relive that moment again!

  9. Anonymous on March 7th, 2010 4:16 pm

    Makes me want to stop wishing my two toddlers would just GROW UP already… because, like, they DO.

  10. Wendy on March 7th, 2010 5:06 pm

    It kills me how you can still see a little of the baby in there, but they just keep getting bigger and bigger.


  11. Judy on March 7th, 2010 5:56 pm

    Just last week I brought my newborn son home from the hospital to join his two older sisters. If I concentrate, I can still smell him and remember what his skin felt like. He’s nearly 39 now and his sisters are in their mid 40s. How in the hell did that happen?

  12. twojams (Shannon) on March 7th, 2010 6:26 pm

    I’m sitting here sniffling. I’ve been reading your blog(s) since Riley was a baby. It is crazy how fast the time goes.

    My daughter is 6 now, and I catch myself staring at her in amazement sometimes, to the point she’ll ask me, “What are you LOOKING at?” And I’ll say something like “I’m just looking at you and how wonderful you are.” Then she’ll smile and get all sheepish, and I sit knowing there will come a day when she’ll die of embarrassment if I say that out loud. But right now I get to say exactly what I’m thinking, and it’s great.

  13. nonsoccermom on March 7th, 2010 7:33 pm

    It’s really just amazing, isn’t it? My son is 7 now and I can still hear that little toddler sometimes, chattering sweetly about trains and cars and trucks. Just tonight I was all nostalgic over an old Thomas the Tank Engine book I was reading to his little sister. Funny how five years ago, I was sick to death of that damn book.

  14. Debbie on March 7th, 2010 7:38 pm

    Oh my…I’ve been reading this blog since he was a baby…look at him, looking like a little boy…it happens so fast.

    On the bright side, there is nothing, nothing, funnier than little-kid soccer. I will never forget the first time watching my kids play soccer at four years old. I thought I would burst out laughing the whole game…managed to keep straight face, though.

  15. Jenn on March 7th, 2010 7:46 pm

    I have 2 sons, 5 and 3, and I relate to so much that you post. My 5 yr old continually and consistently blows my mind… just now he said,” Why is Larry Daly (from Night at the Museum) on t.v.?” (We are watching the Academy Awards and Ben Stiller, in Avatar drag, is presenting an award). He was just a baby and now he totally gets stuff. Honestly, this is why I get why so many people just want one more….these babies grow up far too quickly!

  16. Danell on March 7th, 2010 8:18 pm

    Oh god…Cameron starts soccer this Tuesday. And now I am crying just thinking about it. Shit.

  17. ajb on March 7th, 2010 8:21 pm

    Erm, having second thoughts about including links to the photos in the above comment. Please forgive the trouble but delete the comment or link. Love your writing.

  18. Lena on March 7th, 2010 8:25 pm

    I love it when I’m reading, which is a silent activity, and a noise is forced from my gut by the sheer cuteness of that baby photo flanked by photos of such a big BOY!

  19. DeenutsDana on March 7th, 2010 8:35 pm

    Gosh, he’s really cute. And definately not a baby anymore.

    I feel the same way. It’s hard to write about my daughter sometimes because 1) I am just starting my blog and I still haven’t figured out how much I want to put out there w/r/t her, and 2) I find it so hard to put all of the feelings I have for her down on paper/computer screen. To capture something that is so big and without borders and reduce it to a few choice words. Impossible.

  20. emily on March 7th, 2010 8:37 pm

    thanks for making me bawl. GOD.

    (my son is a little younger than riley and this summer is going to be full of those bit-boy firsts too… cue blubbering)

  21. carl Coryell-Martin on March 7th, 2010 8:50 pm

    How the heck did you light those shots of him in the gym? You caught him in a halo of light both shots. Very nice.

    carl cm

  22. Diane on March 8th, 2010 3:53 am

    I too have been reading since the beginning. I’ve watched first as you grew and then as they arrived and started to grow. I am now going thru the “firsts” with my grandchildren. I spend most of my time proudly watching and trying not to blubber like an idiot. But it is just so amazing and maybe even better living through it a second time. Enjoy every minute.

  23. Joanne on March 8th, 2010 5:29 am

    How I love to read about Riley, I’ve missed him on your blog! My son is just a skoshe older than Riley and since he has autism and is delayed, it makes me feel sweet about what is happening to four year olds who are not delayed, and it makes me look forward to our future and what it may hold. Riley looks so cute in that uniform, I definitely would have cried. :)

  24. Amanda on March 8th, 2010 5:33 am

    Welcome! From one Soccer Mom to another!

  25. Korinna on March 8th, 2010 6:43 am

    I don’t often cry when other people talk about their kids–mainly because they’re not my kids.

    But this made me tear up in my office. Seeing the baby picture and then seeing the backyard picture. Man.

  26. Melissa Bartoli on March 8th, 2010 7:44 am

    I can really relate. My daughter turned four a few weeks back and on the eve of her birthday, I felt so strange. I felt the loss of her babyhood and time….it was so bittersweet. Where does the time go and did I do enough? Will I remember everything? I know she will be my only daughter and I will never get that time back. The feelings caught me off-guard.

    Riley is such a little man now…I would feel just the same as you do.

  27. Rachel on March 8th, 2010 7:57 am

    Oh, shit. I’m tearing up at work.

  28. Sarah on March 8th, 2010 8:47 am

    I have a two month old son and the first picture (Riley as baby) I can relate to–funny shaped belly, little fist sticking up, big eyes staring up at you. I’m finding it hard to believe that one day–one day soon!– I’ll be able to relate to picture two (Riley in soccer uniform. Crazy!

  29. kristylynne on March 8th, 2010 8:52 am

    Aww, what a little sweetie.

    And by the way, great pics. What kind of camera do you use? How did you get the images of Riley to be clear while the other kids are sort of blurred? I suck at photography and want to capture good images of my kids like this too — preferably before they are big enough to play soccer. :-)

  30. Colleen on March 8th, 2010 8:57 am

    Linda, your post today brought tears to my eyes. You might not write as much about Riley these days, but what you write is beautiful. I look at my nearly four year old son, and wonder what the future will bring for him, and what he will be like at different ages – kindergarten, junior high… The other day he told me he was going to be a daddy someday! Not too soon, I hope. : )

    Thanks as always for a lovely, thought-provoking post, and a belated congrats on your accomplishment in NO, and your bravery in signing up for a full marathon.

  31. Amy M. on March 8th, 2010 9:39 am

    Awww, how beautiful. *tear*

  32. Kristin on March 8th, 2010 11:28 am

    Nolan has soccer on Saturday, too. I could have written this exact post, but I wouldn’t have done it as well as you.

  33. Jen on March 8th, 2010 12:06 pm

    Oh… tears. I am so right there.

  34. Beth in SF on March 8th, 2010 1:24 pm


  35. Sarah on March 8th, 2010 2:36 pm

    Damn it, the baby shot followed by the boy shot kicked my butt. He looks so similar and it makes me want to sit in my cube and sob for the boy my son will be way too soon for my liking.

  36. #6 on March 8th, 2010 5:50 pm

    Don’t tell me he has outgrown suspicion?

  37. Anne on March 9th, 2010 11:57 am

    Oh, I know…I took my 3 year old to her first dance class back in January, and I had the same tears prickling at my eyes. And, while I had always rolled my eyes in the past at parents who insisted on watching their kid’s every class/practice/rehearsal/what-have-you, I could have stayed there in the doorway to the studio all day watching my baby–my big little girl–as a STUDENT for the first time.

    Sigh. :-)

  38. wm on March 26th, 2010 10:00 am


  39. Martha on April 29th, 2010 7:43 am

    You make me cry, in a good way. I adore your writing. I can’t imagine my own little boy (2 in June) reaching Riley’s stage – but it will be here before I know it…

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