From Under My Wing


As much as it pains me to say it, my children are growing up.

We moved to New York City in the middle of their toddlerhoods; Diapered, teething and wide-eyed. Zoe had barely begun to walk, yet knew her way around our building well enough to take an elevator ride by herself (leaving me a horrified mess). Jack rode his scooter all the way to his pre-preschool and back while I huffed along behind him with Zoe tied securely onto me. I feared the dirty, bustling streets that pay no mind to babies crossing. It’s as if every person on their morning commute walks with horse blinders on, and I must constantly keep my brood in a strict formation.

I was still green behind the ears as a New Yorker, and as their mother.

Two years have passed and I can see their ankles showing under the cuffs of jeans and the knobby parts of their wrists bare from the sweaters that no longer fit them. Beyond their strikingly big-kid physical appearances, their demeanor and emotions have matured the most. We’re doing amazing things together like math, reading (yes!), ballet and soccer. We talk through their feelings as much as possible, and that is when I realize they are growing up far to quickly for me. I don’t feel like I’m ready to be a parent to KIDS already.

Mothering toddlers and babies is easy. We feed, clothe, bathe and mend our little ones as best as we know how, most of which is instilled in us innately. We wipe their tears when they fall, and champion them every step of the way. We make sure they get their turn on the swing sets and that they receive the exact balloon that they want because we know their favorite color.

These things came naturally to me. Their needs were mostly easily met, as there really wasn’t any grey area surrounding them. As my children get older, though, their needs are changing in ways that I can’t easily fix and it just nearly destroys me. Jack struggles with asserting himself in situations when the more aggressive children take over, and gets heavily upset when he can’t communicate what he needs and subsequently doesn’t get it. He goes to bed after fighting with his sister over anything and everything, and wakes up with the stress of a thousand planets resting on his shoulders. I see the worry and tension in his eyes and the furrows of his brow, yet I can’t do anything to help him, and it destroys me… It literally obliterates me into a thousand tiny particles that, while I don’t let him see it, he must recognize the fact that I’m scrambling to put myself together and find The Answer immediately.


Outside influences are making their way into my well protected parent bubble as well, and it’s caught me completley off guard more than one time. Two days before the 10th anniversary of 9/11, we were walking in the West Village and Jack pointed up to a building and said “Look momma, that’s where the plane hit the building and caught on fire and hurt lots of people”. I stopped dead in my tracks and casually asked where he had heard that story (because I certainly hadn’t told them). It didn’t matter, he is far too young to understand the gravity of the devastation of 9/11-which is precisely why I hadn’t ever told them that story. I felt completely robbed of a little part of his innocence that moment, and then realized that this was the first of many, many times this will happen in the future.



There are lessons that I want to teach my children but I’m unsure of the right way to go about it, mostly because I feel as though I’m still learning them myself. I suppose much of what I want to instill in them is happening without me really knowing or trying, just by being. This transition into a new phase of our lives and parenthood is normal and natural, and while I’m embracing so much of what is happening with them, I find myself feeling insecure about the inevitable process.

Before I know it, they’ll both be out from under my wings, and just like I learned to face this tough city and leave my small town inner self piled under layers of experience, I’ll learn to be the parent I know that I can be, and ultimately am. I guess this is the part of parenthood that I failed to see coming: The scrambling for answers and fleeing moments that so easily disappear in a compromised second.

Join the Conversation


  • I enjoyed this thoughtful reflection … They aren’t babies anymore are they?! Makes me tear up!

  • “There are lessons that I want to teach my children but I’m unsure of the right way to go about it, mostly because I feel as though I’m still learning them myself. I suppose much of what I want to instill in them is happening without me really knowing or trying, just by being”

    You read my heart. I read parenting books and websites like mad and it’s so much and just when I’ve figured something out they’re on to the next one. It’s amazing how the passage of time seems both to speed by and move at a snail’s pace. I hold on tight to the fact that despite my girls (2 and 4) seem to be growing so fast and sometimes astound me with their maturity and depth and the amazing insights they gleam just from observing a situation or sensing how someone feels, in the end, in the long timeline of life, they’re still babies.

    I keep that in mind and snuggle them up and baby them as much as I can. These days are so damn precious. Thank you for this.

  • Jessica…..I love this post. I have always said that when I thought about having a baby, it never occurred to me they wouldn’t always stay innocent and little. As you know, my Jack turned 16 this week and Cailan is nearly 13. And then there’s Brady….it all happened in the blink of an eye. And now we are faced each and every day with parenting challenges I never saw coming. Hold on to those young years as long as you can. They go by far too quickly.

  • Jessica, what a lovely, thoughtful, honest, heartfelt post. It’s so true that while mothering babies and toddlers can be physically grueling, the needs are readily apparent and can usually be fairly easily met.

    With each passing year it seems my now 9 year-old twins lives get more complex and the “mommy-fix” harder and harder to conjure. They belong to the world as much as to me right now, and secrets are starting to be kept, “I don’t want to talk abuot it” litters our conversations (with Ethan, my typical kid, that is.)

    And looking to the future? I shudder thinking about how someday a girl is going to stomp on my sweet guy’s heart and I’ll want to rip her in two, but of course won’t be able to do anything about it.

  • I too, struggle with this, they are getting so big, MY oldest is 5, I struggled when she turned 5 and now she is almost 6. She rides the bus and spends all this time away from me. What does she do all day? How does she survive without me there? I guess that’s partly why people have more babies.

  • I love your post! But I think I enjoyed your pictures the most! They such everyday pictures but with such an amazing backdrop! I’m sure these will be pictures you cherish for a lot time to come.

  • This is so incredibly true and beautifully explained. I didn’t believe when other parents told me to beware of blinking… and here I find that is the advice I now pass along… Keep your eyes wide open for it goes in a flash. 🙂

  • this is lovely.

    and it’s true, six years is kicking my trash.

    this baby stuff? Cake.

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