Tonight my husband was sifting through old photos on his iPhone.  He came to one image in particular and stopped.  He pointed to a picture of me from 10 years ago.  The year we got married.  The year both of our lives changed forever.  Two years before we would have a baby in our lives.  One year before we left the city for the suburbs.  And dare I forget, the year the Twin Towers fell on our beloved city.  Do I remember 2001?  You bet I do.  I was 31.

His comment about the photo was how different I looked back then.  Curious, I asked to see the photo.  It wasn’t a great photo, although my hair did look pretty awesome.  I must have just had it done by my then uber-expensive curly-hair master, Kristo.  My skin was so smooth, almost flawless.  I was also very, very slim (hard to remember those days post-baby).

It’s hard not to be slightly sensitive in these situations.  First of all, it’s coming from the man I’m married to.  We’ve been together for a long time now, and we’ve seen each other change, both physically and personally.  One has to expect change – nothing can stay the same.  Still, one never wants to hear that their looks are changing.  I”m sure that’s not what he meant to say, and I’m sure I misinterpreted the comment ever so slightly.  Nonetheless, it’s easy to read all sorts of things into comments like that.  Feelings can get hurt easily, but he was just pointing out something that was kind of true and factual…. that I’ve changed.  So has he, and he quickly pointed to a photo of himself to make the same points about himself.


Ten years ago was supposedly my prime.  The 20s and (part of my) 30s were magnificent times.  I was living in Manhattan, working on my career.  I could go out whenever I wanted, do whatever I wanted, travel when I wanted, see whoever I wanted, exercise when I wanted or go on a ski or hiking trip.  I saw three plays a week.  I was a free bird.  I loved living in New York City.  I had choices.  I was in my element, no doubt about it.


Ten years later, life is different.  I have a family.  I have to watch my spending.  I no longer live in an apartment, I live in a house.  I can’t travel whenever I want.  I have to think about everything I do; now all my choices have an impact on other people.  Everything I do impacts my family – I have to get a sitter when I’m not around or make sure my husband is around to take over.  I am no longer a free bird, but it’s okay….it’s a new phase of life and it’s lovely.  I love watching my kids grow….I love having an impact on two lives and I can’t wait to see how they both turn out at the end of all this…but I’m not in a rush.


But what else has changed?  My face looks older.  I have gray hair, which for a long time was very minor and on one side of my head in a small cluster I could easily cover.  Recently, I’ve noticed that the grays are spreading to the other side of my head and it’s only a matter of time before I have to dye it more regularly.  I have wrinkles on my face and my skin is starting to look different.  I no longer have time to work out as much as I should.  My life revolves around my family.  Life is is busy and sometimes it’s hard to keep up.

For years, my husband has told me I don’t care of myself.  When I get sick, it might take days before I decide to see a doctor.  It’s not intentional.  Some days, I work hard at my day job; I have to deal with the kids schedules and make sure their needs are met and that they are transferred from place to place and are fed and clothed.  Some days there is so much to do that I forget to eat.  I work from home often, and sometimes I find myself staying in my gym clothes all day without making it to the gym.  Make-up and jewelry have long been thing a thing of the past.  I used to be more into fashion, and stayed up on the latest trends, but now when I go shopping, I primarily seeks out items for the kids and my own clothes are very dated.

And time?  Time is ticking.  Life is going by so quickly now.  From the moment we wake up, we are running, running, running.  I wake up, make beds, get the kids dressed, feed them, make them lunch, get their book bags ready, shuffle them to school – sometimes on time, sometimes not.  Who has time to think about myself?   The only thing thing I do for myself in the morning is get a cup of coffee.  I can’t leave the house until I have my java, yet alone look fabulous.  I never understand how other moms arrive at drop-off looking glamorous and made-up.

Ch..ch..ch..changes.  How do you cope with the kinds of changes you can’t control?  I can’t control my changing skin and hair.  I can dye my hair, and I will continue to do so.  But I’ll never look like I did in that photo again.

But it was a very different time.  I am no longer carefree.  I have responsibilities much larger than life now.  While I do everything in my power to keep up with my interests and passions, life is now about the kids.

I want to age gracefully, and I hope I do.  But more important than anything, I want to take advantage of everything that life has to offer.  Maybe I’ll think about myself more often moving forward – in the few seconds I have between work and shuffling my kids from dance to piano to swim to T-ball to tennis to Tai Kwon Do to sewing to…okay, you get the drift.   Time no longer has the same meaning that it used to have.  There is less of it.


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  1. I can so relate you put it beautiful. I am not bright sparkly anymore like I was prior to kids. But I hope I sparkle in new ways. It is going by so quick. I would like it to slow down. .. So we will all age wonderful and alive!

    • Yes, the days go by way too fast after you have kids. Day turns into night so fast and I am back on the couch with my computer again, just as I was the night before. I can’t believe I am already forgetting aspects of my kids’ childhoods. Memory loss can’t happen this early, can it?

  2. This is not only a great memoir, but a touching look at how starting a family can drastically change our lives. The moral of the story is, although we make these sacrifices, we must take full advantage of every positive moment in our life. Great post, thanks for sharing this, Holly!

  3. Caroline Leach says

    On the other hand, with love a Mum

    The Invisible Mother

    It all began to make sense, the blank stares, the lack of response, the
    way one of the kids will walk into the room while I’m on the phone and
    ask to be taken to the store. Inside I’m thinking, ‘Can’t you see I’m on
    the phone?’

    Obviously not; no one can see if I’m on the phone, or cooking, or
    sweeping the floor, or even standing on my head in the corner because no
    one can see me at all. I’m invisible. The Invisible Mom. Some days I am
    only a pair of hands, nothing more! Can you fix this? Can you tie this?
    Can you open this??

    Some days I’m not a pair of hands; I’m not even a human being. I’m a
    clock to ask, ‘What time is it?’ I’m a satellite guide to answer, ‘What
    number is the Disney Channel?’ I’m a car to order, ‘Right around 5:30,

    Some days I’m a crystal ball: ‘Where’s my other sock? Where’s my phone?
    What’s for dinner?’

    I was certain that these were the hands that once held books and the
    eyes that studied history, music and literature–but now, they had
    disappeared into the peanut butter, never to be seen again. She’s going,
    she’s going, and she’s gone!

    One night, a group of us were having dinner, celebrating the return of a
    friend from England . She had just gotten back from a fabulous trip, and
    she was going on and on about the hotel she stayed in. I was sitting
    there, looking around at the others all put together so well. It was
    hard not to compare and feel sorry for myself. I was feeling pretty
    pathetic, when she turned to me with a beautifully wrapped package, and
    said, ‘I brought you this.’ It was a book on the great cathedrals of
    Europe . I wasn’t exactly sure why she’d given it to me until I read her
    inscription: ‘With admiration for the greatness of what you are building
    when no one sees.’

    In the days ahead I would read – no, devour – the book. And I would
    discover what would become for me, four life-changing truths, after
    which I could pattern my work: 1) No one can say who built the great
    cathedrals–we have no record of their names.
    2) These builders gave their whole lives for a work they would never see
    3) They made great sacrifices and expected no credit.
    4) The passion of their building was fueled by their faith that the eyes
    of God saw everything.

    A story of legend in the book told of a rich man who came to visit the
    cathedral while it was being built, and he saw a workman carving a tiny
    bird on the inside of a beam. He was puzzled and asked the man, ‘Why are
    you spending so much time carving that bird into a beam that will be
    covered by the roof, No one will ever see it And the workman replied,
    ‘Because God sees.’

    I closed the book, feeling the missing piece fall into place. It was
    almost as if I heard God whispering to me, “I see you. I see the
    sacrifices you make every day, even when no one around you does.”

    No act of kindness you’ve done, no sequin you’ve sewn on, no cupcake
    you’ve baked, no Cub Scout meeting, no last minute errand is too small
    for me to notice and smile over. You are building a great cathedral, but
    you can’t see right now what it will become.

    I keep the right perspective when I see myself as a great builder. As
    one of the people who show up at a job that they will never see
    finished, to work on something that their name will never be on. The
    writer of the book went so far as to say that no cathedrals could ever
    be built in our lifetime because there are so few people willing to
    sacrifice to that degree.

    When I really think about it, I don’t want my son to tell the friend
    he’s bringing home from college for Thanksgiving, “My Mom gets up at 4
    in the morning and bakes homemade pies, and then she hand-bastes a
    turkey for three hours and presses all the linens for the table.” That
    would mean I’d built a monument to myself. I just want him to want to
    come home. And then, if there is anything more to say to his friend,
    he’d say, “You’re gonna love it there…”

    As mothers, we are building great cathedrals. We cannot be seen if we’re
    doing it right. And one day, it is very possible that the world will
    marvel, not only at what we have built, but at the beauty that has been
    added to the world by the sacrifices of invisible mothers.

    The Will of God will never take you where the Grace of God will not
    protect you.

    Share this with all the Moms you know and friends…….I just did.

  4. Holly— this is so beautifully written and honest.

    I only have one young child so I have not quite reached that phase in life where I am shuttling the kids to and from various activities with no time for anything else. There is still so much I want to do, on top of building my family. Maybe I am being naive, but I haven’t allowed myself to give up on anything yet. The feeling that I will not accomplish what I set out to is so paralyzing that I am not yet ready to look it in the face.

    • Ilana, you are so on the right track. Again, I’m so honored to have one of my favorite writers comment on my blog and I’m loving this conversation. I’m going to commit to writing one personal blog a week. It’s so validating.

  5. Holly… in a few years, you will again have opportunities to be more carefree. My boys are now old enough that we don’t need babysitters anymore. I can workout when I want. My husband and I can go out to dinner if we feel like it. Bottom line is, you end up with a lot more time for you. And all of the sudden you are looking and feeling better than you did 10 years ago. Change is good. Hang in there.

  6. La Mere Joie says

    Wow, I would have said the exact same things! I, too, have seen the years fly by and have seen the effects on my body. The gray hairs, the fine lines around my eyes and of course, the slower metabolism that refuses to let any baby weight come off me. I definitely still yearn for those seemingly carefree days at times. But it is true, now my family comes first. priorities are different, and although my life has totally changed from 10 years ago, I wouldn’t trade it for anything. My husband is still the love of my life and vice versa (or so he says! LOL) and I love watching my kids grow into amazing people. And as I get older, I have made it very clear to them- I want to live at The Atria. 🙂

    • Renee, my friend, I got my hair dyed today and feel 10 years younger. I love it. I talked to my sister who’s single, living in Brooklyn, about how lucky she is to be able to do whatever she wants, whenever she wants. She turned to me and said, are you crazy? She thinks I have it all, I sometimes think she has it all. The grass is always greener….

  7. Oh Holly, your words are just what all of us feel no matter the age. When I became a parent, I went through a mourning of my previous carefree life. It was really tough for me to restructure my days to do things I enjoyed. We, moms, need to be happy so our families can feed off that energy. I think making time for our needs and hobbies is absolutely essential to the well being of our whole family. Our kids will love being around a happy mama and this feeling will reflect in their daily lives.
    Make time for you… your family depends on it!

    My mom says, “if you look good – you will feel good- so make an effort every day.”
    A costume designer once told me- ” having a bad day? Slap on some lipstick! ”
    So there ya go…. simple and frivolous advice but it works! it’s the little things ya know.

    • Maria, that’s funny, my mom has always given me the same advice — about lipstick!

      You are such a great example of someone who makes time for everything. You do what you need to do for yourself and you give so much of yourself at the same time to Lily. You are a wonderful example.

  8. Holly

    It is so nice that we are all not alone in our thoughts about time and how things change. I made tremendous changes 10 years ago as well. I left my job in corporate America, sublet my cute studio apt. A couple of blocks from Lake Shhore Drive and went to learn more about my Jewish heritage. I was single and free and on a plane to Israel. Two days after I arrived in Israel, I was walking into a store in downtown Jerusalem. I chose that store because the sign in thw window read, “Discount for Brave Tourists”. As I walked in, the news on the radio was all about an airplane that hit The Twin Towers. The women in the store was a survivor of the boming of Sbarro. Time stood still for me as the news in Hebrew flooded the airwaves and my heart.

    I knew that the road ahead would change everything. Not just in my life, but in the lives of us all. It was a wake-up call we could not ignore. At 32, was finally ready to get married and start a family. I moved to New York and visited the WTC. I thought of all of those souls and prayed for their peace. 10 years later, I am still thinking of them and each day, in between rushing here and there, focus on the present. It is the most precious gift we have.

    • Esti, 9/11 did make us think about everything and somehow made life more precious than before. It was a wake up call in so many ways and showed us how fleeting life can be.

  9. So, so true! I could have written so much of this. Tim is fleeting, and priorities do change. I have ti make a conscious effort to put the same kind of care and energy into myself as I do for everyone else. And even then, it’s inconsistent.

    So I have no advice whatsoever- just a note to let you know that you’re so not alone! XO

    • Galit, I am so honored that my writer commented on my blog and can relate to it. We do have to make an honest effort, otherwise, our identities would fall apart.

  10. Yes, yes, and yes! It certainly is not all about us anymore is it? As my daughter grows I am becoming a firm believer in needing to take care of myself- not just for me, but also so that she sees the example and model that I am setting. But the follow through? So hard. It helps me to think about it all in baby steps….. because then I can celebrate taking a few itsy bitsy wobbles in the direction of ME progress before I tumble back down. 🙂

  11. This is something I don’t enjoy thinking about. I know I’ve changed, that’s not the problem. It’s not the changes, I love them. It’s the idea that time is slipping by and I haven’t accomplished all I had set out to do. And that the clock is ticking.

    The changes in ten years? Well, I went from college, being a fiance, working fulltime, camping every weekend, hanging out with friends and my brother all the time, dying my hair. To no longer dying my hair, wearing jeans and fleece, being married, having kids & camping with them, moving to a different state after all my family (who lived in the US) left and moved out of state, and deciding to try writing and cooking for a living. Burying grandparents. Realizing that living in Poland might never happen. That I have alot to learn in life still and that there will NEVER be enough time for it all. Losing faith in humanity on a few occasions and being given faith in God and family.

    My physical appearance is alright, I’m in my 30’s. I’m not 17 anymore, that’s for sure. But I don’t feel that I am unattractive. My husband makes sure to tell me I’m not. So, that isn’t my concern. Yet…

    There’s so much I want to teach my kids also and that clock is ticking. I think the biggest change is now being able to hear that clock.

    • I am so grateful for your response. So many changes in your life. Wow. I went bathing suit shopping today and it was really tough.

      I think as long as you are aware of what you still have to do in life, you’re in a good place. Some people don’t even think about it.

  12. i hear you. as parents, it seems like the days just fly by in a flurry of activity. i too got married 10 years ago and look a lot different today… and i’m really starting to feel the passage of time.

  13. What a wonderful piece. I feel the same way. Things have changed!! But, I wouldn’t go back…no way.

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