Time Machine



My Mother’s Day wish this year is simple: a time machine. Just for a few hours. No, I wouldn’t take it back to buy Microsoft stock or witness some historical event. I would go back to an ordinary day….just a typical Wednesday, maybe 2001. I would go back to our humble house on our less than great street. The one I never really liked, but at a young age, was lucky to have. It would be a sunny, nice spring day. I would go back to the morning. When my boys, then 7 and 4, would still be asleep.

I would creep into their rooms, and sit down and watch them sleep. I would take in everything about that moment–each hair on their head, the sound of their sleeping breath, the smell of the room. After lingering a bit, I would wake them up and we’d go downstairs for breakfast. And they could have whatever they wanted—-ice cream? Sure!! Chocolate chip pancakes with extra chips? You got it!!

After breakfast, we would move head back upstairs to our “learning room” to get started on the school day. Lego on the floor?? Again??!!! As the plastic missile makes its way into my foot, I would smile and enjoy the searing pain shooting up my toes. As the school day begins, I remember how difficult it was homeschooling two boys. But, this day, I wouldn’t yell when Holden didn’t want to do his English lesson, because he wanted to read about space and rocket ships. I wouldn’t get frustrated at Harrison when all he wanted to do was look at the photos in his animal books. I would grab all the books and sit with them.

I would do every single thing they wanted all day—-no matter how silly it seemed at the moment, no matter what I had planned for the day. I would hold the hugs just a little bit longer. I would kiss just a little bit more. I would cuddle up on the sofa just a little bit longer as we watched silly cartoons, which I used to think were a waste of time. The extra cookie that they wanted after dinner—I’d give them 2.

As I look back now, fifteen years later as my boys are now a senior and sophomore in college, I realize how much time I spent on things that weren’t important. I complained about things that didn’t matter. I didn’t spend time taking in those mundane moments that become the best memories. I look at them now with their own lives and their independence and I long for them to need me just a bit. I long for days of Sponge-Bob on the TV and Lego all over the floor. Days of rough and tumble boys laughing a bit too loud and being a bit too silly.

Time flies so fast. We are so busy looking to the next moment that we miss the beauty of the current moment. We miss the beauty in the madness that is the day of a mom. Those mundane moments are what I miss the most. Those days when nothing special happened, except it did……I was spending the day with my boys. The two halves of my heart. My eldest, who taught me how to love, and my youngest who taught me that that love was limitless.

They tell you a lot of things when you’re pregnant—what to eat, what you should or shouldn’t do when the baby is born, how to stay healthy. But, what they don’t tell you is how you lose your heart. How you lose part of yourself. These babies that grow inside you for 9 months, take a piece of you when they are born. And no matter how old they are, no matter how far away they roam, they carry that with them. A piece of you will forever live outside of your body, but you still feel it. Like a phantom limb, you ache for it.

Every Mother’s Day, as I celebrate my own mom, I also thank my boys. They made me a better person. They made me love deeper, they made me stronger, they made me who I am. As I marvel at their talents, at their compassion, at their humanity, I continue to miss those ordinary days. But, I’ve learned to hold onto each moment they are with me. Now, if I could only get that time machine…. just for a few hours.



Suspended Animation


If someone came up to you and asked you this question: “Who are you?” What would you answer? I guess I’d answer with my name. That’s a start. But what if they said, “No, Who are you REALLY?”  I’d probably pause a minute and say, “A mom, a wife, a writer.”  But, I don’t think that really describes WHO exactly I am . I’m a hodgepodge of idiosyncrasies, emotions, mental issues, memories. None of us can truly be defined in a few words or phrases. That’s what makes us human. But, when I look back at my second answer for a second, I’m struck by something. I said “mom” first. Most of the time that’s the first thing out of my mouth. “I’m mom to two teenage boys.” Of course, that will never change. I’m their mom forever….like it or not. But, I’m no longer a full-time mom. They are independent and don’t need me anymore on a daily caretaker basis. 

I know I’ve written a great extent about my boys and what their growing up and moving away feels like for me. But most of my posts are about how I feel as their MOM. What about me as a woman? The honest answer to “Who are you really?” is “I honestly don’t know.” I got pregnant with my oldest while studying abroad as a college junior. I wasn’t even set on a college major at that time, much less a life path. I did know that I never wanted kids and never wanted to get married. But, when I got pregnant, those were the only two things that happened. So, there I was at 21 years old, with a baby and a husband. I’ve read research that the pre-frontal cortex of the brain, the part that controls impulses and reasoning, doesn’t fully develop till we are 25. That explains a lot. I was too young to be a mom, too young to be married. My first marriage failed after 16 years…to be honest, it never should have lasted that long. But, I defined myself as a person, as a woman all those years as a wife and mom. I finished college and went to look for work, but it was always part-time or freelance work. I never was a 9 to 5 career woman. I home-schooled my two boys for 15 years, so that was my main focus. 

So, in 18 months, I will no longer have a child in my house on a full-time basis. No more school functions, sporting events, homework, dinners, illnesses to take care of, no more mothering on a daily basis. It’s started already, the slow move into my non-mothering being. But, once my youngest goes off, that ends. Then what? I keep asking myself that question. And right now I have no answer. I have absolutely no idea who I am as an adult woman. Yes, I have my writing and my husband. I’m an only child to two aging parents, so I still have that caretaker job to fill. But, still that isn’t WHO I am. I think that’s why I sometimes forget I’m a 40-something woman. In my head, I’m still that 21 year old college co-ed wondering what to do with her life. Like I’ve been in some sort of suspended animation. 

There are so many things I want to do in my life and haven’t done yet. I asked my son the other day, “what in the world am I going to do when your brother goes to college?” His response, “Do whatever you want to do. It’s your time.” Wow!! Words of wisdom from my 19 year-old son. I had to stop and think for a moment. What exactly are those things? I think before I figure out what I want to do with the rest of my life, I really need to figure out exactly who I am. My mom had me at 40. I was her first and only. I can’t even fathom that. But, she was set in her ways by then. She was a mature, responsible adult who had lived a lot in those 40 years. She was married, had a career, found out who she was and was comfortable in her own skin. 

I didn’t have that. I was a 21 year-old scared to death young woman, forced to become a responsible parent and adult, before I truly was one. I’ve been the best mom I could be to my boys. I think I’ve done a good job. They are strong, kind, intelligent young men who do good things. They’ve never been in trouble. They see the world in all its glorious shades and see everyone as equals. They want to give back to society. I think I’ve taught them well. I wouldn’t change my life for one second. Let me make that perfectly clear. I have never once regretted being a young mom. My kids are the greatest thing that’s happened to me. But, now that the full-time mom part of my life is over, I need to figure out who I really am and where I want to go with this next stage of my life. Let the journey begin. I hope you will come along with me for the ride.




As my son approaches the last week of classes for his freshman year at college, I look back over all the changes he’s made this year. He started this past fall as a scared, awkward, immature teenage boy, but he is coming home a man. I am so very proud of all he accomplished and all the growth he has shown this past year. It was so difficult for me to let him go. But, I needed for him to find his own wings and his own strong legs to stand on and be the amazing man I always knew he would be. There were rough times. Times when I would go in his bedroom and smell a t-shirt, just to feel closer to him. Times I would look through photo albums to the little boy he was and mourn my loss of his youth. But, more than that—-there were times of extreme pride. He made Dean’s List his very first semester. He found a tight circle of friends. He learned to do his own laundry and be responsible for himself. He sends me messages to tell me how much he misses me and how much he knows that who he is now is because of me and some sacrifices I made for him. He tells me he loves me more now than he ever did before. Guess what? He appreciates me in a whole new way. And so, our relationship has grown to this whole new level. I’m not there so much for nurturing anymore, as I am there as a confidante, a friend, a support system. We’ve both graduated to a new level as a parent and as a son. It’s quite an astonishing feeling.


This is a poem I wrote for him on his high school graduation day. In honor of my son, I want to share it with you.

Song for My Son


Allison Cline-Saia

Here he comes

All scarlet rings framing pure alabaster

Towering gallantly like the strong Oak

The little boy shining through the blue depths

A little boy who was never really little.

Exceptional from the start

Setting off a maternal need I never knew existed

He came gently into my world and taught me more than I could ever teach him

From his first steps to these steps towards the Osaka sun

He cuts his own path, coloring his way with his own crayon.

I’ve always tried to hold his hand with steady restraint

Not too tight, always present

He became his own man before he could tie his shoes

Full of spitfire and boundless curiosity

Infuriating, inspiring.  Maddening, marvelous.

As he flies off on his own trajectory,

I hope he remembers that as long as I have breath

He has a home wherever I am

I am his one constant in life, giver and sustainer

My boy becomes a man.



A Boy’s Passion


I just finished my 2-year term as Poet Laureate of my town. A very distinguished title, huh? I’ve always written poetry, it’s another form of expressing myself. In fact, sometimes it’s the only way I know of expressing myself. My youngest son is turning 17 next month. One more year left and he, too, will be flying the coop. His passion is photography. When I watch him get so excited about what he does, it makes me so happy that my “baby” has found his place. I was inspired to write this one by watching him watch the world.

 Second Sight

He sees the world through his looking glass—

With all its unseen magical shapes and colors—

Bringing life to the torpid….

The concavity molds to his eye.

Full of the curiosity of the little boy of yesterday

And all the promise and hope of the man he is becoming,

He creates art.


Each flash of the shutter captures a microsecond of time

A small moment that is his and his alone—

He creates a new perspective—

One full of vision and clarity: a multi-faceted brilliance.

As he creates this world around him with his lens,

I wonder if he realizes that’s what he did for me.

He made me see the world as a brighter place.


My boy. My guy. My young man. My son.

I watch him as he watches the world.

I see him transform the mundane into the magnificent.

I watch the spectacle of him and see the glimmer in his eye—

The blue glint behind the blonde hair—

That sees beauty in every aspect of life.

He is a work of art.

“It Goes On”


It goes on

Robert Frost once wrote: “In three words I can sum up everything I’ve learned about life—It goes on.” These words hit particularly close to home for me lately. As I have mentioned in previous columns, this has been an incredibly eventful summer. My personal businesses have picked up a great deal, we are doing a total house remodel, and my eldest son is getting ready to move away from home for college. There have been many highs and numerous lows. Days of boundless hope and sleepless nights of dread. But, you know what? Each one of those dark nights turn into sun-filled mornings and yes, as Frost says, life goes on.

Our lives are all like that. That is part of the interconnectedness of being human—we take one step forward and the universe pushes us two steps back sometimes. But, we go on. Our lives change and we wonder how we are going to get through the bad times. We worry when the good times will end. But, somehow, we get through it. Life isn’t meant to be understood, it’s meant to be lived. Living our lives to the fullest extent of our ability is all we can really do each day. I sit here wondering what the future will hold for my son, about to embark on a new path in life. An exciting future awaits him.

But, I keep dwelling on what awaits me: an empty bedroom, an empty chair at my dinner table, less laundry in my washer, an empty space in my life. But, I am so proud of who he is and what he can do for this world. He’s been my pride for so many years and it has made me selfish. It is time to share him with the world. But, letting go is difficult isn’t it? Whether it be letting go of a child off to college, letting go of a long-standing grudge or a bad habit. But, change is inevitable and if we don’t bend, we break.

Sometimes it’s difficult to give words of wisdom to my son, when thinking about him not being around all the time makes me want to crawl in bed and cover my head for a few days. Yes, he will come home for breaks, but there is something fundamentally changing in my life. It’s a new stage in both our lives and I’m trying to find a way to cope with that. Of course, as always, I find solace in the written word. I find help in the words of poets far greater than I could ever hope to be. I recently reread a poem by Rudyard Kipling called “If”.

If you can keep your head when all about you

Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,

If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,

But make allowance for their doubting too;

If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,

Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,

Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,

And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:

If you can dream – and not make dreams your master;

If you can think – and not make thoughts your aim;

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster

And treat those two impostors just the same;

If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken

Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,

Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,

And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:

If you can make one heap of all your winnings

And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,

And lose, and start again at your beginnings

And never breathe a word about your loss;

If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew

To serve your turn long after they are gone,

And so hold on when there is nothing in you

Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’

If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,

Or walk with Kings – nor lose the common touch,

if neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,

If all men count with you, but none too much;

If you can fill the unforgiving minute

With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,

And – which is more – you’ll be a Man, my son!

While life has gotten in the way of my creativity in recent months, it seems the more emotional I get, the more the words start to flow. As I was helping my son pack this morning, a few lines of a poem came to me and I sat down and wrote for the first time in a while.


I filled the trunk with his things—towels, washcloths, sheets, an iron

And my mind flashbacked to picking up Lego and putting them back in the huge toy box.

I used to curse those little pieces of plastic—

They hurt my bare feet and got caught in my vacuum cleaner.

The gifted redhead who was never really a child in the conventional sense…..

Tall, advanced, precocious, full of wonder and attitude.

A true stereotypical redhead to the core.

I used to think to myself, “I can’t wait till he’s through with these things.”

“I can’t wait till my living room isn’t filled with multi-colored landmines.”

Where did the time go?

He would spend hours building —-

Trucks, spaceships, pterodactyls, castles—

Brick by brick with steadfast hands.

Now, the Lego box sits a few feet away from the college bound trunk—

The little boy, now not quite a man sits between the two.

Caught between youth and adulthood, ready to fly on wet wings.

Ready to build a future with the solid bricks of his past.

So, no matter what happens, no matter what the universe has in store for both of us, life will go on. We will both change and get used to this new environment, this new ‘normal”.

Safe Flight



The skies looked a bit stormy for a while. Dark shadows rolled across the sky and you could see rain clouds in the distance. He wasn’t worried. I was worried enough for both of us. But, when the time came for take-off, the blueness opened up above us and beautiful cotton clouds filled the sky. I stared through the metal fence, wanting to climb over the barbed wire and onto the runway. I wanted to grab his hand like I used to when he would wander a bit too far. But, the taxiing had begun…..there was no turning back. Sure, he hit a few bumps along the way, but all in all the take-off was smooth and off he went into the wide open sky. My baby’s first steps to becoming a pilot.

I’m having a “mom crisis” of late. As my last post said, I have one son venturing off to college in seven weeks and my youngest, Harrison, is getting his wings, literally and figuratively. I’m usually not like this. I was never an emotional mom. I wasn’t one of those hovering moms when they were toddlers. But, as they age, I’ve gotten worse. I see them becoming these strong, independent young men and all I want to do is bring them home to make cookies and binge on Disney movies. I want to tuck them into their bunk-beds and get perturbed at 3 in the morning when one of them yells for mom. I miss the days of Tom and Jerry and Legos digging in my feet.

Then, today my youngest passed his driver’s permit test. Just one more cog in the wheel that carries him onto adulthood. I’m trying very hard to do that tightrope balancing act we moms do. Don’t hold too tight……don’t let them fall too hard. As I sat in the pilot’s lounge on Sunday, waiting for my son to land, I kept thinking back to the times when he was a child. He always seemed to need me more than my eldest. I remember a night when he was barely a year old. I woke at 2 AM to the sound of a screaming child. Harrison was in bed with me, as I was still breast feeding and when I got up to turn on the light, all I saw was blood…on the wall, on the floor, all over his face as he lied screaming on the floor next to me. One trip to the E.R. and some stitches followed. I felt like such a horrible mom. How could I let my baby fall out of bed?

Fast forward two years and he and his brother were playing in my room, when I heard a loud thud and a scream. Another trip to the E.R. and an arm sling for two months for a broken shoulder bone. Again, terrible mom. When he was 10 and a very good competitive swimmer, he was having some issues with a swelling, blue arm. This turned out to be Thoracic Outlet Syndrome and he had to have rib removal surgery at Johns Hopkins. Seeing him lying helpless on a gurney while an anesthesiologist put my baby to sleep was one of the most difficult things I’ve ever had to do. But, he pulled through it like a champ. Like he always had.

Add to all these things, the speech problems….recurring ear infections…..OCD and general anxiety diagnosis…..severe depression and intensive psychotherapy……and I think it’s obvious why I’ve grown into this neurotic mother who wants to follow him around just in case he needs me. But, now that we are in the teenage years, he doesn’t need me. Or should I say, he doesn’t WANT to need me. He wants to be the pilot of his life and I’m pretty much grounded to be the guy who pulls the plane into the hangar once the flight is over. I don’t even get a co-pilot seat anymore.

It’s a funny thing to watch this person that you gave birth to, nourished with your own body, bathed, changed their diaper,  become a man. I want to shelter him, but I want him to grow and find his wings. I want to save him from hurt, but I know that hurt brings change and growth. I look at him sometimes and I still see that beautiful little blonde boy smiling out from the teenage face. How did time go so fast? How did my little guy become this amazing young man? I take pride in the man he has become, but I miss that little boy who needed his mom. So, for now, I’ll be a silent backseat pilot. One who can reach over and help steer when the skies get rough, but will be along for the ride no matter what.