Motherhood & Words

Yesterday, I took Zoë to get her hair cut. She grimaced as the stylist combed through her tangled, matted red hair (she hates to brush it or have anyone else brush it). But then her hair was free of snarls, and I watched as chunks fell around her shoulders and slid to the floor. It was if she was transforming from a preschooler to a kindergartener before my eyes. She even let the stylist give her a thin braid that framed her face, something she doesn’t usually allow.

Last night she and Stella picked out what they wanted in their lunches, excitedly pouring Goldfish into baggies and stacking mandarin oranges and containers of carrots next to the soup I would heat for their thermoses in the morning.

Zoë announced this morning that she hadn’t had enough sleep (we are up by 6), but when Stella told her she’d help her get dressed, she shook off her grumpiness. Neither of them ate much breakfast, then they put on their tennis shoes and  double-checked their backpacks, and then we were outside, taking pictures, documenting the moment. “Don’t worry,” Stella said to Zoë. “I’ll walk you to your classroom.” Zoë nodded. Be still my heart.

When the bus came, Stella held Zoë’s hand as they crossed the street. I could see Stella settle Zoë by the window on the other side of the bus, and then sit down next to her. And then they were gone.



My girls are growing up. That’s the way it happens, no? I have been thinking about the years we have left with them at home, before they leave for college, and it has started to feel like it’s coming too fast. But then I have glimpses of the young people they are becoming, and I can’t help being so proud of them, of their kind hearts and fierceness and enthusiasm for life. World, get ready.

Update: Zoë had a great first day. She leapt into my arms when she got off the bus, and told me that she’d made two friends. (She could only remember one of their names, but I’m sure that will come.) And Stella reported that they got to see each other at recess, though they were playing on different playgrounds. The second morning was a little rougher because Z was tired, but I think she’ll get into the groove of early wake ups and having to wear underwear EVERY DAY. Hard stuff. 

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I have been teaching creative writing for almost twenty years. Reading about other women’s lives and experiences has expanded my world. To be able to walk in someone else’s shoes, whether it’s for a moment or an hour or a few days, is an incredible gift, providing me with insight into the human experience. It takes courage to write your truths, especially if it doesn’t seem as though anyone cares, as though anyone is listening. Let me tell you: your stories matter, I’m listening, and I’m here to help you find the heart of those truths, to get them down on the page, to craft them, and to send them out into the world. Together, we will change the world, one story at a time.


  1. Melinda Hews on August 28, 2013 at 11:38 am

    I remember the day well. I just went on the college tour with my daughter who is a senior in high school. As we walked around a beautiful campus, hearing about all the classes, professors and amenities (“the dining hall will even make your mother’s spaghetti recipe if you’re homesick!”) I teared-up and was right back there taking that picture with the first back pack on the first day of kindergarten.

    Enjoy every day, even the hard ones. And good luck to Zoe as she takes kindergarten by storm!

    • Kate on August 29, 2013 at 7:45 am

      Oh Melinda, I can’t believe your daughter is a senior. I’m tearing up thinking of you walking with her, all grown up.

  2. jenn on August 28, 2013 at 11:45 am

    So glad it went well… I barely made it through Pre-K drop off, how will I survive the first day of Kindergarten? Could I borrow Stella next year?

    • Kate on August 29, 2013 at 7:46 am

      She’d love to help!! This morning was more challenging. She was tired and crabby, and I almost lost when she tired to gaze at us as Stella led her across the street and onto the bus.

  3. Sara on August 28, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    What a great big sister. My sister remembers (though I don’t) me not lettering her sit with me on the first day of school because I wanted to sit with my friend.

    • Kate on August 29, 2013 at 7:47 am

      Oh Sara, that’s funny. Is this a younger sister? Of course she would remember it, wouldn’t she? Something to hold over your head still, all these years later. Sisters!

  4. Sue on August 28, 2013 at 3:13 pm

    I love when the older one helps the younger (and vice versa). For one year mine will both be in Junior High & I am hoping Abbey settles Alexander in just like this.

    • Kate on August 29, 2013 at 7:47 am

      Oh I bet she will, Sue. Don’t you think?

  5. Sarah on August 28, 2013 at 4:14 pm

    These words, and the images they summon, are beautiful in every way.

    • Kate on August 29, 2013 at 7:48 am

      Thank you, dear Sarah! How is it going in your house?

  6. Angie Mizzell on August 28, 2013 at 4:28 pm

    Such a sweet scene… it will be mine next year when Blake starts kindergarten and Dillon starts third. I actually think it will be a relief to Dillon when he’s not “the only one” going to school all day, and I think his little brother will be excited. But watching them go off together, wow. I’m not sure I’ll be ready for it.

    • Kate on August 29, 2013 at 7:49 am

      It will be so precious, Angie. I can’t wait to read all about it.

  7. Nina on August 28, 2013 at 5:12 pm

    What a sweet first day report.

    • Kate on August 29, 2013 at 7:49 am

      Thanks, Nina!

  8. Andrea on August 29, 2013 at 8:41 am

    Wow! Such exciting stuff, but bittersweet, too. It all happens so fast (when it’s not happening so slowly). When you have babies, you think you’re having babies, but you’re having these future-adults. I just had the realization that my 12-year-old is turning into a MAN, and I was all like, “What? That was not in the contract.”

    • Kate on August 29, 2013 at 8:48 am

      Oh Andrea, that’s so hilarious. And that’s it exactly–they are BABIES for heaven’s sake.