The odd man out

6 years ago. I hold my friend’s newborn baby, and marvel at how tiny and perfect it is.  I listen to her talk about how wonderful motherhood is; how much joy it gives her.  We’re not pregnant yet.  I feel left out.

8 months pregnant. The family is bubbling about an upcoming trip to Mexico.  They invited us to go, but the kicking, writhing little alien in my belly advised me it was better to pass this time.  And so we stay home, and I feel a pang of jealousy when they return and we see their bronzed glows and hear about their adventures.  I feel left out.

6 weeks old. She’s here.  And she will not stop crying.  All day, every day.  No one told me what colic was, or that it would suck this bad.  Meanwhile, my husband “gets” to go to work every day.  But I want to go to the office!  I want to interact with adults!  I want a daily respite from the blood curdling screams!  I feel left out.

9 months old. We’re at Christmas with his family.  I barely get to see anyone because I’m holed up in the spare bedroom breastfeeding and trying to get her to nap.  I scarf down a few bites of dinner in between her meals.  I miss getting to see people open the presents we bought them.  I feel left out.

Toddlerhood. We’re at a wedding.  It’s an hour past her bedtime, but we’ve amped her up with punch and goldfish, trying to delay the inevitable.  As she rubs her eyes and begins to whine, we see that the meltdown is imminent.   We sneak out of the reception before the cake is even cut.  I feel left out.

She’s three now. A colleague drops into town.  At the last minute, he organizes an impromptu happy hour.  I am dying to go sip martinis, and enjoy some real adult conversation like in the good old days.  But I can’t, because I have to leave work to pick her up from preschool.  I feel left out.

And just like that, she’s almost five. We enter her classroom, and she immediately runs over to play with a friend.  She giggles at something her teacher says.  I beckon her back for a hug and kiss.  She looks embarrassed.  “Mom, the other kids are looking,” she says, with an air of annoyance.  She’s a big kid now, and doesn’t want them to think she needs to be babied.  She begrudgingly lets me hug her, and gives me an obligatory peck on the cheek.  Then she scampers off to play.

As I exit the school, I feel left out.

Outside, I stand at the window for a minute to spy in on her.  I watch her laugh, and I am both proud and sad at how independent she’s becoming.

And I realize that it’s beginning.  That those moments of feeling like I’m knee deep in the trenches will ever-so-slowly be replaced by moments of feeling like I’m on the outside, looking in.  She will need me less and less with each passing year.

It’s already beginning.  Even though I don’t want it to.

At that moment, I feel a slight twinge for those years when she needed me, and only me.  When I was the center of her universe.  When I was immersed in all things baby, and the rest of the world went on around us.

When it was just us.  And everyone else was left out.

Mama's Losin' It
#3. A time when you felt left out.

27 thoughts on “The odd man out”

  1. So so true. Our kids bring us such happiness, yet we always long for what we can’t have. Right now I long for freedom. Yet before I know, I’ll be longing for the days she NEEDED me. Parenting is so bittersweet, isn’t it?

  2. You are making me cry! Just today I had lunch with my 6 y/o who is also in Kindergarten. I wanted to keep hugging him when we left. Once I let go, I didn’t want to stop waving to him. When he rounded the corner, my heart sank. I love that little guy and I loved this post!

    BTW, I left an award for you on my site, if you want it. Don’t feel obligated!! I just wanted to get the word out on my blog about TAOCAB!

  3. Great post to point out that it’s all about perspective. I’m trying hard not to miss the moments in my boys’ lives now that they’re in high school and upper elementary. They don’t need the snuggles and hugs and kisses. They don’t even need my help with their laundry.

    I feel left out.

  4. Love this post!!! The last part gave me goosebumps.

    They always will need you no matter how old…Take it from an empty nester…After the teenage years and the alien left their bodies for good, it’s amazing what wonderful conversations we have now!

  5. I’m sitting all alone in a hotel room in Utah with an empty bottle of Hoegaarden next to my bed bawling my eyes out.

    I will bookmark this post and turn to it whenever I start to feel like my children have completely taken over my previously perfect life.

    Thank you.

  6. you’re not a blogger. you’re a blogging writer.
    this is a wonderful piece!
    i couldn’t see what was coming in the end, being all caught up in realizing that i’m at your “6 years ago” stage right now and admitting that the following several stages will most likely feel the same:)

  7. This? Made me cry. So beautifully written my friend. This is how all of us moms feel. I am not yet at the stage when my son is totally independent and I like that he needs me. When he doesn’t, sigh…that will be hard.

  8. That was really beautiful. And a good reminder for when motherhood can feel a little too all consuming that the years go by fast!

  9. oh, that was so good. I am teary eyed and am thinking back to all those same things. Thanks for sharing and reminding me to take it all in because one day they will need me less and I will be left out.
    Stopping by from Mama Kat’s.

  10. Wow, beautiful! I’m filling out registration forms for 3-yr old preschool. Can’t believe 3 is almost here!

    -Julie from

  11. What a beautiful piece and a beautiful picture! I have a 5 year old little one who danced right on by me this morning with barely a hug, busy with her all-important kindergarten world. But then I talked with my mom on the way to work. What I realized is that I’ll never be truly left out, I’ll always need them and they’ll always need me. Then I made a promise today to be grateful for all the moments, whenever they come. Thanks for sharing your thoughts and for the inspiration! 🙂

  12. I am right there feeling left out. My oldest daughter is 11 and all of a sudden her life does not revolve around what we are going to do together, but rather what she is doing with friends. It is sad, but I know that I have set up the foundation for a good relationship. I just have to wait until she is ready for it again.

  13. This was gorgeous. And poignant. And a serious tear-jerker. i could relate all the way around. Thanks Mama for sharing your beautiful writing and your beautiful heart. And seriously? Could that picture be any more lovely?! Love it!

  14. Wow! This is so well written! And you are so right, though I wish it wasn’t true for all us moms!

    I adore that picture of you two!

  15. I didn’t need this peek into my future. I felt the lump rise in my throat and I swallowed it. But seriously, that is the most beautiful picture of mommy and baby I’ve seen in a long time.

  16. Now you’ve gone and gotten me all teary…..and I’m not even drinking! This mirrors my feelings so many times during the time mine were little. So many times I couldn’t go somewhere or do something. Left out.

    But you said it all so beautifully. And that picture sealed it.

    I missed this in my crazy-full inbox and found it just tonight. Sure glad I did.

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