Posted by: Naomi Baltuck | May 15, 2012


Once, when we were running late, I was waiting impatiently to lift my little boy Eli into his car seat, while he studied a bug on the driveway.  “Hurry up!” I said.  “We’re going to be late.”

Puzzled, my little boy looked up at me and said, “Mommy, why are you using that tone of voice?”

Such a grownup expression from the mouth of the babe!  And it took my breath away.

“You’re right, honey,” I told him. “It’s not the end of the world if we’re late to pre-school, and it wouldn’t be your fault, if we were.”

Eli and I had a good look at the bug, while I quietly reflected upon what kind of parent I wanted to be.  Which memory of me would I want my kids to look back on and remember me by?  My mother once told me, “The best friends you’ll ever have are the ones you raise yourself.”  Bless her!  Bless them!  Bless us all!

I love that tee shirt that says, “Please let me be the person my dog thinks I am.”   But I aspire always to be the person my kids think I am.

Images and words copyright Naomi Baltuck


  1. Absolutely!

  2. “The best friends you’ll have are the ones you raise yourself.” – So completely, and wonderfully true! Love it…. :-)
    ~ Terri

    • Hi Terri, thanks for stopping by, and for taking the time to share your thoughts.

  3. Kids can really bring you back to earth – my 7 year-old grandson did just that when he said to me, “It’s not like it’s the end of the world, eh Nana?” Poof! Wind out of my sails (read: rant) and gently back to earth. Great post.

    • Great comment! Brought a smile to my face. I remember once overhearing one kindergartner say to another, “Do you think I was born yesterday?” Duh! Yes, you were! It’s so funny to hear these things come out of the mouths of babes. Thanks for stopping by, Lynne.

    • I love this comment from your grandson, Lynne. :)

  4. Beautiful and wise – and the photograph made me smile.

    • Hi Cathryn, thank you for stopping by–as always, you made me smile, too.

  5. I love the photo, Naomi. Talk about seeing yourself through your kids’ eyes! A perfect image.

    • Hi, Kathy. I hadn’t thought to post on this theme, because I’m working on another big writing project, but I chanced upon this image, which triggered the story, and I just had to do it. I am so easily distracted, but I feel like I spent a little while with my son as I wrote this. Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

  6. Hi,
    What a fantastic photo, and I love the message you mentioned on the t-shirt, that is brilliant. :)

  7. it’s always funny when our kids repeat our own words back to us. my son likes to tell me when i’m getting angry in traffic to “calm down and take a big breath – in (he inhales) and out (he exhales) – there, that’s better.”

    • HI Valerie,
      That story is so funny! At least you know he’s listening to you. Thanks so much for making me smile today.

  8. Kids are so SMART nowadays. I LOVE your mother’s saying. That should be on a plague.

    • Hi Tess, yes, it’s true; kids are smarter and more sophisticated. And what my mom said is true, too. Thanks so much for your thoughtful comment. I always love to hear form you.

  9. Yes! Yes! Yes! I’ve spent many a morning hustling my preschooler into her carseat, but getting there on time isn’t as important as how the flowers look today with rain on them or what big slug has slimed its way onto our driveway. Thanks for the perspective, Naomi, and I love the photo, too.

    • Dear Laura, you are absolutely right! Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this. Kids grow up way too fast, and it is those driveway moments that we remember, and they will too.

  10. The photo is great, as is your message. We just need to listen to our kids a bit closer, a bit more frequently. And to remember that the tone of voice is so very, very important.

    • Hi Carol,
      That is the truth! Thank you for sharing your thoughts.

  11. Adults do tend to lose perspective :-) Beautiful message and photo Naomi!

  12. Thanks, Madhu!

  13. The ‘dogs’ quote is on my desktop (PC screen). It’s a good reminder that we can always try to be better persons. :)

  14. Whoh! Another interesting timing thing. As you saw, I posted something today about John Lennon, and now I show up here and find your photo of someone wearing Lennon-esque glasses.


  15. Oh, and great post!

    In my experience, this line:

    “The best friends you’ll ever have are the ones you raise yourself.”

    …for me, would read:

    “The best teacher you’ll ever have is the one you raise yourself.”

    I SO treasure those moments when I learned from my son what being a fun-loving, active, unconditionally loving, creative, empathetic human is all about.

    • Yes! I am a passionate person with many interests, but there is no question, the hardest, most wonderful, most worthwhile, most important thing I’ve ever done is to have kids. It has given me new eyes and made me a much deeper participant of life.

  16. It’s funny how much we miss out on in the rush to get to the important stuff. What a wonderful moment you had with your son though. It’s amazing what we can learn from each other when we stop and listen. :)

    • Yes, when the important stuff is right there under your nose, in footy pajamas.

  17. I just love those wake up calls we receive from our children. Mindfulness indeed. There is also a message of reassurance in there Naomi, it reassures us that that voice isn’t the one we usually employ, small gratification perhaps.

    • Hi Claire, thanks for the follow! I love the look and feel of your blog, and look forward to following you and exploring some of your archives as well, which look fantastic. Living in France, you might appreciate my post “Editing Monet’s Garden.”

      You’re right about Eli. I felt terrible about it, until I thought about it more. My kids were so easy, and I know how lucky I was! Eli was born twenty-five years old. They have had a gentle upbringing–I have never once raised a hand to them, and hardly ever had to raise my voice. I can remember almost every time that happened.

      Once, both kids followed me into the bathroom and we were chatting and keeping company as I was brushing my teeth at the sink. Toddler Bea started to reach for the toilet. My hands were full, and my instinctive reaction was to holler, “No Bea! Don’t touch!” Eli, who was four or five at the time, scolded, “Mom, you’re going to scare her.” It was alarming for them to hear me raise my voice that way. I was proud of him for his sensitivity to his sister, and embarrassed that I let my gut reaction kick in enough to scare my toddler.

      Kids grow up thinking that however they are raised is the norm. So on the rare occasions that I did “use that tone of voice,” it probably was as traumatic to them as if I had been yelling. That’s what surprised Eli so much when I “used that tone of voice” on the way to pre-school–I wasn’t even yelling–just HURRYING him. But it was a huge wake-up call to me, Claire, about what is really important.

      Thanks so much for your thoughtful comments. I know I will enjoy many more on your blog!

      • Thanks Naomi, I’ll be back to check out that post and others :) Thanks for connecting.

  18. I love this picture! The story is truly lovely too. Kids sure to have a “gift” when it comes to the “ha-ha-nana-booboo’s” of life. God love ’em.

    • Thank you, Nae. Yes, yes, yes! I appreciate your visit.

  19. Oh, this is beautiful Naomi. Such a beautiful reminder. It’s amazing how much wisdom and insight our children have. Truly amazing.

    Thank you for stopping by my blog and commenting. I am so happy to have met you and look forward to reading more from you!

    • Dear Jessica,
      Thank you so much for your kind words. I appreciate your visit too.

  20. Way too late for my kids —
    Helpful for my grandchildren. But somehow much easier to come by, even by my own insight, with grandchildren.
    The photo is extraordinary!

    • Thank you. I am attracted to the photos that tell stories or into which I can imbue, at least for myself, some kind of symbolism (English Major!). I don’t have any grandkids, but my sister Lee does, and she says the same thing. I wonder if that has something to do with the stage of life you are at–perhaps not being pulled in so many directions at once, or just being at one remove from the awesome and sometimes daunting responsibility of parenthood.

      • Absolutely — grandparents don’t have the anxieties and responsibilities, those are the parents’ —
        Our only “job” is to love unconditionally.
        There ought to be a really important message somewhere in there —

  21. hi Naomi,
    thank you for your reflections – and the link to the RIVER song!

    • HI Frizz,
      Isn’t Bill Staines great? I have had the pleasure of hearing him in concert on several occasions, but not for quite a while. He recently put out a new CD called “Old Dogs.” I really like the title song on that album.

  22. cool! excellent take on the theme!

    • Hi Stephen,
      Thanks for dropping by, and taking the time to leave a comment!

  23. […] […]

  24. Reblogged this on Writing Between the Lines.

  25. Happy Mother’s Day, Naomi, and thanks for the reminder. We all need to slow down and enjoy the world around us, although I do know some who could speed up just a bit sometimes. :-)


    • Nowadays I’m the one the kids wait for, especially if I have my camera with me! Thanks so much for stopping by, and sharing your thoughts, Janet.

  26. From the mouth of babes indeed! I love this, Naomi and the pictures are fabulous! We all could benefit from putting the breaks on in our lives. xo

  27. It’s good to have kids so they can remind us what is really important in life. How sorry I am that not always I hear them. Thank you for making me realize that. Love on Mother’s Day and always!

    • Dear Dorota,
      It’s true that our kids help us remember what life is all about. Thanks so much for the visit, Dorota. I hope your Mother’s Day was a happy one. Please give everybody a hug for me!
      Much love,

  28. I have a strong feeling you are. :) I’m going to flick this on fb. Everybody should think about it.

  29. I’m loving the comments on your post! You know, it isn’t how many comments you get or how many likes you get, it’s getting interactions like this that make blogging so much fun.

    I have my own story too. My nephew was about 5 years old and my sister was rushing to get ready to go out of town. They were in the store and she snapped at him and he said very clearly, “don’t be crabby Mommy!” That took the wind out of her sails! She calmed down, did what she needed and went home. Her and I laughed and laughed at that one. Later, of course, after all the kids were in bed.


  30. You mom is a smart woman. Sounds to me you’ve been pretty successful in the raising department. Happy Mother’s Day. <3 <3 <3

    • Thank you, Tess. I am a lucky duck on all counts! Thanks so much for the visit. I’m off to Virtual China this morning!

      • You are welcome, Naomi. Thanks for your visits at Virtual China as well. <3 <3 <3

  31. Having spent a delicious 2 hours on the phone with my youngest yesterday, I am relieved that even though I did, more often than I wish to admit, use “that voice”, my voice has changed, and my daughter is hearing more support and openness and affirmation than she did before. I didn’t give her all that I want her to have, but I certainly encourage her now to go get what I could not supply. We are both growing….still!

    • Everyone does the best she can, and you were raising your kids in very difficult circumstances, Scilla. It’s wonderful that you and your kids have found such a sweet place of mutual appreciation and acceptance, and it’s obvious from the photos you’ve shared that it is also a place of love.

      • Thanks, Naomi, for those positive words of affirmation! (I needed that today!)

      • :)

  32. A very touching story Naomi.

  33. So true! And, a good reminder to us all. What a wonderful picture of the four of you!

    • Thank you, Naomi. I think Eli snapped it– a family selfie, which he sometimes does, but I didn’t even remember him taking that. In fact, I still don’t: the trip to Turkey went by in a blur. It just showed up in my mailbox after our last trip, and it was such a nice surprise. Thanks so much for your kind words.

  34. My son started up a ‘bug club’ at his primary school, which he ran most play times. His friends all had little notebooks and went on bug hunts to draw pictures and write observations about them. I still have his little book. It’s a gem ;-)

    • That is adorable! I’m so glad you kept his bug journal. It just brings back those sweet days. I was moving books and shelves around yesterday–playing dominoes with furniture as we arrange the house to make room for the new rug–and came across the kids’ travel journals. I had to stop and re-read them. No wonder everything seems to take so long! I’m easily distracted.

      • I’ve just been helping/encouraging my son (aged 28) to tidy his room. We found a journal he kept of his holiday to Suffolk when he was six, complete with illustrations and a description of all the zoos and animal sanctuaries we visited. I had great pleasure in reading out loud (from his amazingly legible writing) his version of each day, seeing it anew through the fresh and innocent eyes of a child of that age.
        The room took ages to tidy, as we kept stopping to read other gems!

  35. Your post really made me think, Naomi. Some mothers today seem very hassled and have no time to spend real quality time with their children. Maybe that’s where grandparents come in very useful. :) Gorgeous photo of your smiling , happy family.

    • Dear Sylvia,
      It’s so hard when moms have households to keep up with and families to manage in addition to an outside job. I was lucky to have a job with flexible hours–my writing and rehearsing could be done at home–and when I had to go out to perform, my mother-in-law lives right around the corner and was very happy to spend time with her grandchildren. I saved the best of my kids’ toys and costumes in anticipation of the day I might share them with grandchildren one day. It sure seems like one of the best jobs in the world.

  36. If your son had not said this, I have a feeling you would have had the moment when your words came back to haunt you, Naomi. You seem to me to be a caring person who always put your children first.
    Your family looks so fantastic!
    I try to ignore my own children who hurry and bustle my grandchildren along, since it is a lesson learned through the words of a child, (like you heard) or a stranger who seems wise beyond his or her years.
    As a parent, I left a lot of lessons to others, since I didn’t want them to think I was bossy. They all three are loving people, two are great parents. One is waiting for awhile. They seem to pack too much into their days, though…. Smiles. I love to be the one who plays hide and seek with flashlights and look at bugs, moss and let them creek walk, Naomi.

    • Dear Robin,
      Hide and seek with flashlights sounds wonderful! As do bug hunts and creek walks. You have the wonderful job of helping your grandchildren enjoy a happy childhood, which they will never ever forget.
      I don’t expect grandkids any time soon, but I have saved all the best toys and books and costumes for them to play with, and will tell them the stories that go with them–about when their parents were little too.
      Thank you so much for sharing your story, and your thoughtful response. It is so good to hear from you, and now in my mind I have a very fun picture you playing flashlight tag in the dark with the grandkids!

  37. thank you for sharing this wisdom. I think you are a great mom!!! Your mom must be proud!

    • Dear Cybele,
      Thank you for this lovely comment. I’m sorry to say that my mom died way too young, before either of my kids were born. I recall telling her how much I appreciated having her as a mother, and especially for taking us on all those the cross country camping trips every summer after she was widowed–with seven children! I once asked how I could ever thank her enough for those life-shaping journeys that we looked forward to all year long, and for never questioning how much we were loved, and she said, “Pass it on to your own children.” That’s all I could do, but I also feel that a part of her lives on through them, which was a great comfort to me, as my first child was born less than a year after she died. She would have taken such delight in my kids; they share so many of her interests–travel, reading, history, poetry, and waffles (of course!) Not to mention the fact that my mom was easy to please. She used to beam and say proudly, “Seven children, and not one of them in jail!”

      • thank you for sharing that beautiful memory and I’m sure she sees you !! I love her proud saying lol!

      • Dear Cybele, Thank you so much!

      • yw :)

  38. Happy Mom’s Day, Naomi. I love this post, as it serves as a reminder to me that some things are more important than others, and that those things will probably change from day to day, but that’s what makes life so interesting!

    • Happy Mom’s Day to you too, Kate! I hope it was a gooder! Thanks so much for the visit, and sharing your very kind response.

  39. I look forward to your wonderful blog! You have a gift for sharing experiences and making them universal. What a great reminder this is to keep focused on the “important stuff ” As a grandmother who spends lots of time with young twins, I need this reminder to listen more carefully. Thank you !

    • Hi Jane,
      It’s so nice to hear from you. I hope you are doing well! Thanks for the visit, and for sharing your kind response.

  40. Beautiful. And I agree, Naomi! ♡

  41. Wow, glad I stopped in. What a wonderful thought to drive home too. It’s already a better day. I hope yours is better too. Have a wonderful week, looking forward to more.

    • Hi Clay,
      You are too sweet! Thank you so much for sharing your thoughts, and now I will have a happy thought to drive home to as well!
      Best wishes,

  42. So true and so lovely and I can tell you were/are a very present parent, Naomi. A wonderful story.

    • Dear Jamie,
      I know you also raised the best son in the world. Thank you for the visit–I think of you often, and send lovely good wishes to you every day through the cosmos.

  43. Naomi, this brought a tear to my eye. Yesterday I had a similar ah-ha moment on a much smaller scale. I’ve been too busy lately…not even writing. When I got home from grocery shopping I was rushing around like a maniac getting things put away and realized my little dogs were just standing there waiting for me to give them a little attention. These are moments of grace.

    • Hi Victoria,
      “Moments of grace.” I shall remember that.
      Thank you so much for the visit–I have been swamped with visitors and out of the country, but am settling back in and catching up with my blogging–it’s good to hear from you. I so enjoyed your last post!

  44. Now that our 2 children are grown and about to leave the nest, I find myself reflecting more and more on what kind of mother I was and if I would have done anything differently. I come from a large family – we were always so loud and constantly competing with each other for attention. Having just the two, I think they wondered where on earth I was coming from sometimes. Being a mother has to be one of the most difficult jobs on earth, and to add to the pressure we’re so hard on ourselves. I liked your moment of awareness, and your sensitivity as a parent has paid off, your family is lovely.

    • Dear Elisa,
      What a thoughtful and insightful POV. Like you, I was from a big rowdy family and, especially after my dad died, my poor mom had trouble dealing with it, and it sometimes felt like we were raising ourselves. I consciously decided to have only two children so that we could give them the attention they needed growing up. I’ve had to work hard to keep myself from going the opposite extreme and being TOO protective. But I think any mom who is asking herself the questions that you are has to have been a very good mom! As for the empty nest thing–it took me a while to realize that my nest was not empty–my husband and I continue to live a good life here in our little nest, and the children keep flying home to visit, so we must have done something right! Thanks so much for sharing your thoughts.

  45. Love this one Naomi – and somehow I think you probably are exactly that! Isn’t it funny how such small moments become so important and stick with us so firmly! Good for you for recognizing the importance of the moment.

    • Dear Tina,
      Thank you so much for your very kind thoughts on this post. It is so true–in life, in writing, in everything–that the small moments or seemingly insignificant actions reveal much about the big picture.
      Hope you are well!

  46. Out of the mouths of babes…. :-) MGW used to ‘Yes Dear’ to Number 1 son when he was a toddler. Number 2 came along and she tried the same tactic…washing dishes etc providing ‘Yes dear’ responses, at appropriate times.

    What a shock when number two toddler, put his hands on his hips and declared, ‘Mum! You’re not listening to me!’

    • Wow! From the mouths of babes is right! Kids are so much smarter and more sensitive than we give them credit for. Thanks so much for starting my day with a smile!

  47. it’s possible to learn from little boys – maybe you have time, to watch the video: my grandson, aged five, with his first blues harp performance:

    grandson with bues harp - video
    • Hi there! I have ben out of town for the last couple weeks–I am home, and went to view the video of your grandson, but I was told the video is no longer available. I would love to see it sometime.

  48. Sometimes kids say it exactly as it is. You’re great at taking that step back and putting things in perspective, most parents I feel wouldn’t be able to pull themselves away from the urgency to be on time. I hope I would also take a look at the bug.

    • Dear Kate,
      I’m certain that you would be a bug watcher just to share a moment with your child. It all goes so fast, and these are the sweetest most memorable moments. Thanks so much for the visit.

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