I’m a mom of two girls, a fourteen-going-on-forty year old and a seven-going-on-seventeen year old. Which makes me a forty-one-going-on-Prozac year old.

I’ve gotten pretty used to my eldest daughter’s stoicism – her reticence to show outward emotion, particularly joy or pleasure is legendary in these here parts. She could be happier than a pig in poo but if any family member, particularly me, is within eye or earshot, she’d sooner lick a bug than show it. But I’ve gotten used to it. After all, I’ve a plethora of random, haphazard, spontaneous emotions myself and quite honestly, it can be exhausting trying to keep track of all of them. And being familiar with Zoe’s occasional surliness meant I was more than prepared when she hit the tween and teen years. Her emotions currently run the gamut between pissed off and really pissed off with an occasional pit stop at somewhat-content-at-the-moment-so-enjoy-it-while-you-can. Although I must admit that lately, I’ve seen her flash her beautiful smile quite often, which makes me remember fondly the sixty hours of labor it took to bring her into this world.

My youngest, on the other hand, is a completely different story. This one cannot help but show every single emotion the instant she feels it, regardless of where she is or who she’s with. She is an open book with every page ripped out, blown up, photocopied and plastered on every billboard to ensure that everyone within a fifty mile radius is aware of what she is feeling. She’s very generous in that way. And if she can’t articulate whatever feelings are brewing within at the moment, she will simply have an emotional meltdown and cry huge, heaving sobs while Nate and I play a guessing game as to the cause: Are you hurt? Are you sad? Are you sick? Are you angry? Are you happy? Are those happy tears? Are you really crying? What happened? What happened? WE CAN’T HELP YOU IF YOU DON’T TELL US WHAT HAPPENED SO TALK TO US AND HERE’S A BOWL IN CASE YOU THROW UP. And this will go on and on and on until she falls into an exhausted sleep or we fall over dead, whichever comes first.

Unfortunately, I don’t have any pictures of Helena in action. If I had the cojones, I’d grab my camera and document these blessed moments as they’re happening and save them for posterity and the Internet, but I have no cojones, much to Nate’s relief.

So I’m just going to sit my cojones-less self down and show you what I have managed to capture of Helena’s personality through the recent years:


This is her angry face. I did not spray her with water in the exact manner required by law. Apparently, there is a right way and a wrong way to spray water upon a sweaty soccer player. Who knew?



Being too cool for school, she hemmed and hawed before she gave me the time of day, looked up and allowed me to take this picture. Thank you, Helena. Now you can go back to your chalking and pretending I don’t exist.



Sometimes, she’s a little saucy. And yes, I know that word is terribly old fashioned and would only come out of the mouth of a 102 year old woman, wearing woolly knickers and rocking in a chair with the thermostat turned up to sweltering, yelling CLOSE THE DAMN DOOR, IT’S DRAFTY to her husband Burt who died 20 years ago but what can I say … she brings out my geriatric tendencies. And my penchant for run on sentences.



And sometimes she’s a little cheeky. Is that something a 102 year old woman would say? Maybe I should start worrying about myself? Note to self: start to worry. Love, me.



Here she is, being carefree. Carefully staged carefree, as in MOM, TAKE MY PICTURE BECAUSE I LOOK CAREFREE.



Sometimes she’s a totally normal, happy little girl.



And sometimes she’s a totally happy little girl, but not normal. Don’t ask. I don’t.




But of all the candid shots I’ve gotten of Helena, this is the one that speak to me the loudest. And it says OUCH. Is this the expression of my then sweet six year old, the same little girl who loves forever kisses, Bear and snuggling in the morning? Who thinks her mom is all that and a bag of chips because she makes the best mac’n cheese in the world, even if it does come in a box? Please tell me it is. Because I’m having visions of a sixteen year old who missed curfew AGAIN, who thinks she’s all that and her mom just isn’t, who might just as well slap a sign on her forehead that says STEP BACK. I can almost hear the “I already know everything I’ll ever need to know about anything and I bet you’d like to know how I know what I know but don’t hold your breath and stop about the tattoos already, it’s my body and I can do with it what I want and WHO CARES about grades because Danny doesn’t and I love him and he loves me and as soon as he makes parole, I’M OUT OF HERE and don’t even think about walking next to me ‘cuz that won’t fly and OH MY GOD, are you really going out wearing that, and hey, just so you know, no way will I ever ask you anything ever again because you don’t know anything about ANYTHING and I can’t believe I’ve got to share the same EARTH as you and why can’t you just be ANYBODY but you?”

Am I reading too much into this?

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25 thoughts on “Expression”

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    Oh, you are SOO making me look forward to the teen years . . . (dripping sarcasm here)

    I think I’ll go hug my 4 and 5 year old while I can!!

    Great post!

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    Ah, I remember my happy little merry sunshine girl at that age. A bundle of joy. A sweet snuggler who loved life and everyone…enter hormones, the teen years and meet Sybil, although she is down to two personalities now. I love you or I can’t wait to move out…she’s nearly 16…

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    I have one of these. She wears her emotions on her sleeve. Its quite funny to look through the photos because to myself Im saying “yup, I have a couple of those too….oh I just got a photo like this yesterday!” Girls, they are so much fun yet so emotional!

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    Ok, how long have you been spying on us? You wrote nearly word for word a description of my two girls. One will be 14 this month, and the other will be 12. To top that off, I also have a 17 year old son. WHAT WAS I THINKING??? To have them so close together means they’d all be teenagers together! OMG, someone, please tell me it will get better!
    Thanks for the post. It made me laugh, and feel such relief knowing I’m not alone in this teenage world.
    Have a great weekend!

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    oh, i think you nailed that last expression – my 11-yo is beginning that phase now, and WOW can you see it all over her! fantastic photos. i really enjoy your blog.

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    Wowzers! You have your hands full. I think they wore me out just reading your post! LOL Great photos. Love the mix of emotions and attitude you captured. 🙂

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    Ok, so you always make me laugh, but today you also made me a little afraid. My daughter is only 14 months old, but um… she is already acting like a teenager with her pouts and hissy fits and such. I so cannot WAIT to see what happens when she actually starts to TALK! Your post, it did NOT reassure me! LOL

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    oh boy..seems that I have the 4 year old version of your daughter. Nice to know that there is a whole society of lovely little ones. I’ve already been told that I have ruined her life, make her do everything and are just the meanest mommy ever. Not sure what I will aspire to do when she is an actual teeenager, seems I have got it all done now. One day this child will look at me and either say ‘I’m in therpay because of you” or “you reallly are a wonderful woman, I’m so very sorry for being such a pill when I was younger”. Either way, I’m not babysitting her little ones…payback! LOL!

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    Fantastic photos! Thankfully, my children are all grown or so close that I only need to count the minutes. Having raised four daughters and a son, I don’t envy you one bit!

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    I’m stuck with the word “Surly” in my head, now! I like it, even though, the contations come with all of that negative baggage! I tremble to think of my daughters doing similar things, but I suppose they just might. I won a small victory at the beginning of the year when my 10 year-old admitted that I was funny once! She, also, recently admitted that 2 of her friends think of funny. I wonder if I should start polling the dentists, but there is always that 1 crazy dentist that wouldn’t go along with the rest.

    I love your posts! 🙂

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    You have beautiful children, even if one doesn’t like to smile to often. I have 2 girls myself, they are 17 and 20, but I know what you are talking about, been there, done that. I also have 2 boys 14 and 16, that are at the point of making me nuts. Good luck through those teenage years. UGH

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    Love the way you write and I am so enjoying reading your blog! and for a European like me it is really interesting! as said Deb previously, you should consider turning your blog to a book!

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    Do you enjoy making me feel even more inadaquate to raise my kids or what!!! I think I’ll keep living in my dream world where my kids are “perfect”!!

    Thanks for sharing!!!
    Hope talk with you soon!

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    Loved every one of the pictures of Helena!!
    My favorite is the one with Bear.
    You have a very, very creative child!

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    OMG – It is true ALL teenagers are the same !!! Girls and Boys alike LOL- My 14 year old has reverted back to a cave man – grunting all the time – I think he has forfotten how to talk and his bed room – KEEP OUT OF MY STUFFFFFFFFF – No window opened, blinds drawn – his very own deep dark smelly cave !!!

    Love your posts xx

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