Sunday, May 1, 2011


As I slide the last warm curler from her hair, I step back to admire the long dark brown curls cascading down her back.  A sigh hitches in my throat as I think back to her three year old self, when - desperate for some girly hair to play with - I would scrunch what little hair she had into ponytails that jutted straight off her head.

I sweep up the curls and secure them in a pearly white barrette.  Greta looks bashfully at her reflection in the mirror.   "That looks so pretty, Momma," she whispers.  "Wow."

She juts her chin up and shakes her head.  The curls sway to and fro. 

"You look beautiful," I choke.  

Color blooms in her cheeks and she casts her eyes to the floor, but she is smiling from ear to ear.

We're preparing for her First Communion later this afternoon.   The past few days have been a whirlwind of shopping, cleaning and checklists.   As she steps into her white dress, I take a moment to soak her in.

It goes so fast, I think. 

Two years ago she still had all her baby teeth, and now only one remains, loose and stubbornly jutting forward, refusing to come out.   It mocks me, this last remnant of her babyhood.

She slips her feet into her sandals, and I clip little white fabric flowers into her hair. 

"Let me get a good look at you," I smile.  She spins for me, and the dress swishes around her legs.   This long-limbed beauty before me takes me breath away.


The other night I perched on a stool in a steamy bathroom, quizzing her in preparation for a geography exam while she showered.

"What is the largest mountain range in Europe," I shout over the noise of the rushing water.

"The Alps!" she shouts back.  "Give me a harder one!"

"Name two landmarks in Asia!"

"The Taj Mahal, and the Great Wall of China!"  she replies immediately.  "And the biggest river is the Yangtze!"

Images of her little chubby self splashing in the tub, laughing at the bubbles, flash through my mind.  Now I'm quizzing her on world geography.

She giggles on the phone with friends, dribbles a soccer ball effortlessly past a defensive line and writes in a diary every night.    She pulls her hand from mine when we walk through parking lots, casting her eyes about to see if any of her friends are around.   

She is growing up.

I feel perched at the beginning of something - the next beginning.  There are so many beginnings, aren't there? 


That night, after the ceremony and celebration, I pull her aside and tell her I have a special gift for her.   She rips off the paper to reveal a pretty gold box adorned with handmade paper flowers*.   

"It's a God Box," I explain.   "If you're worried or anxious, or you have something you need help with, or want to pray about, you write it on a piece of paper and put it in the God Box.   It helps God help you."

She runs her fingers over the flowers and smiles.  "Thank you, Momma," she says.   I love that she still calls me Momma.   "Can I put things in there that I'm excited about, too?"

"Of course," I reply.  "You can talk to God about anything."

Later, as I read a story to Finn, she scribbles something on a piece of scrap paper, folds it into a tiny square and places it carefully in the God Box.   "It's something I'm both nervous and excited about," she says.  "Do I have to tell you what it is?"

"Of course not," I reply. 

She smiles.  "I'll probably tell you about it soon," she says.  "But right now it's between me and God."

I'm letting her go bit by bit, I think, but she'll never be alone

I lean over and give her a kiss, completing the nightly ritual we have done since she was a baby.   My heart aches for the day when this may change.    I smell her cherry blossom hair and stroke her cheek.

"I'm so proud of you, you know," I whisper.

"I know," she says. 

*God Box handmade by my talented friend Catherine.  Her Etsy shop, Ellis Lynn Studios, is here.
**Black & White photos by my brother, and professional photographer, Rob Strong.


  1. Oh my. My oldest is only 4 and already I see the years flying by. What a special day for your little girl! She looks beautiful, but clearly it is her heart that shines. I love the shower geography. Mine calls me momma too and I hope it never stops!

  2. Tears. I have tears. Beautiful post - my little girl is only 2 and already it seems like time is going too fast.

  3. This is my first time finding your blog :) I'm glad I did. I first started readin the post and thought of my prom and thought maybe you were getting your daughter ready for prom. And I hope that you share a similar experience when she does go to her first dance, me and my mom did and I will ne'er forget those days. She always makes me feel like the most beautiful woman in the world!

  4. Ellie. Oh Ellie. Beautiful.

    And the chicken picture made my day.

    And we need to talk! I miss you!

  5. I love how you talk to your kids about big things :)
    Greta is such a beautiful girl, inside and out!

  6. Beautifully written!
    My daughter is going to be 16 years old in a month. Time truly flies much too fast.
    Your sweet daughter looks oh so precious in her lovely dress.

  7. Crying, crying, crying. SO many beginnings - and each of them is twined around an ending, isn't it?

  8. Who was it, Ellie, who said “a mom’s days are endless, but the years fly by”. I’m not sure. I know it was a mom. I know you get it. And this - - hearted this, “Two years ago she still had all her baby teeth, and now only one remains, loose and stubbornly jutting forward, refusing to come out. It mocks me, this last remnant of her babyhood.” ((((sigh)))) And that she says “I know” when you tell her you’re proud of her? That is all the proof I need at that you are “one crafty mama” and your kids are blessed to have you. God Bless and keep you and all of yours. I really hearted this post. Thank you. ♥✞ღ

  9. Firstly, congratulations on your daughter's first communion. Gorgeous photos. And the God Box? Inspirational. Secondly, thank you for writing this most beautiful of posts. It makes me want to tiptoe into the nursery and clutch DD to my chest x

  10. Congrats on her first communion! When my son had his he was in a navy suit and shouted "I look just like Steven Harper!" (Our Prime Minister). When my daughter has hers I will be just like you - it's happening so fast. The chicken picture is priceless! Tell her that even strangers thinks she looks beautiful.

  11. Tears, but also just you inspire me. You live moments so fully.


  12. Oh this brought me joy and sadness, as a Mom of a 7 year old I can already see it happening. Thank you so much for sharing, she is such a doll! I love the pic of her with the rooster.

  13. Greta is turning into such a beautiful person. You are a lucky lady. :)