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Best o’ the Bitch, Parenting

The Ad That Always Makes Me Cry

I once learned in a marketing 101 class that good advertising evokes an emotional response.

Now that I’m grown, a mom, and probably perimenopausal, I’d like to tell all those emotion marketeers to take their tear-jerking ads and stuff it.

Yeah, I’m talking to you, Sprint.

I’d like to thank you for that time lapse ad of a girl who goes from infant to flower-in-her-hair 12-year-old in 30 seconds flat, to the haunting tune, “All of My Days” by Alexi Murdoch.

I know you’re counting on the fact that I too have a girl, who is also growing up, and if you throw in music that tears at your heartstrings (“I have been quietly standing in the shade/All of my days/… And I’ve been trying to find/What’s been in my mind…”), then you’ve hit the mother lode.

Got me, bastards.

Now why don’t you run that ad over and over when I’m in a room full of people — say, the Super Bowl or the Oscars. And make sure it is right before they announce Best Picture or something like that, so running away for a lengthy crying jag is not an option.

This week was the best and worst time to see that freakin’ commercial, as my baby girl is turning 12. And goddamn if the time hasn’t flown by as fast as time-lapse photography.

My memories of her early years are a blur of sleep deprivation and Herculean efforts. I will never forget quitting my full-time job — my career — and thinking that being at home with my two kids would be a nice break from the hustle and bustle of the working world.

Boy, was I naïve. That was when everything jumped into hyper-overdrive, and I’ve been scrambling to keep my jet packs loaded ever since.

The second child has the benefit of toddling down the path of the first. The parent, already broken in, is more relaxed and in some ways this makes it easier to be more present. I know for me this was especially true of childbirth. With my first, I was petrified and my birth story includes blacking out because I was a Lamaze loser: I held my breath until I got that sucker out. And while the result was worth it, the experience was, shall we say, very out-of-body.

My second came easily, quickly, and to the strains of Bob Marley singing, “Three Little Birds” — “Don’t worry/About a thing/Cuz every little thing/Gonna be all right.”

Suffice to say her birth was the most Zen-perfect moment of my life.

But then of course everything dissolved into chaos — my kids are close in age, so the ability to relish sweet moments dissipated the second I brought her home. Cut to years of soothing the crying baby while running after the older bro, trips to the park, singing off-key to Mommy & Me, clapping for the first somersault at pee wee gym class, preschool madness, wee ball, Kindergarten, cutting food into bite-sized pieces, buying clothes every six months as she grew, and grew, and grew… elementary school graduation, now she’s playing competitive soccer and softball, middle school math (ugh, I’m out) and she’s taller than me. Can’t even toddle around in my heels anymore because she wears a half size bigger shoe.

And there you have the literate, literal time lapse. Blink, and that was 12 years.

Thanks to all my New Age training, I know enough to stay in the moment. This sounds so calm, so simple. But it is really a supreme effort and a discipline. It means pushing past the bombardment of senses to be present enough to say, feel my freezing digits when we’re selling Girl Scout cookies at 6:00 p.m. on a Saturday night, or chant the mantra, these are the good old days, when I’m slouched in an uncomfortable folding chair on the sidelines of some far-flung place, just to see her come up to bat.

Clinging to the sensations gives me at least sensory memories, and that’s something.

And then there is the tough stuff. Someone once said to me, “Little kids, little problems. Big kids, big problems.” As a side note, why do people persist in saying things that are supposed to make you feel better that actually only serve to put a greater sense of dread in place?

Twelve was about when my bright, idyllic childhood faded into the blackness of middle school. It was the year my best friend went through puberty, blossomed into a beautiful blonde, and started hanging out with the popular/mean girls. And so, I was left to my own devices. (Well, vices — the good/bad plot lines on General Hospital devoured over a bag of Double Stuf Oreos.)

I wish I could throw myself in front of the middle school bus and save my daughter from being road kill, but it doesn’t work that way.

And so, my sweet baby soldiers on, through some big kid, bigger issues. There are days when I feel like the time lapse can’t flash by fast enough.

In the Sprint commercial, the 12-year-old girl looks like she is talking up a storm. The reality is that there are more silences now. There is more and more in her life that is better shared with friends or just kept to herself.

Having been a girl once myself, I know that having a mom who respects your privacy and doesn’t freak out when you retreat into your own world — yet is there when you need her — is the best way to move forward in time to do what we all do.

Grow up.

Still, if you see me fast-forward past that Subaru ad where the little girl assures her dad she’s fine to drive, and when he finally forks over the keys, the adorable little girl has morphed into a stunning 16 year old, just know that while I get that time waits for no one, I can definitely wait for that.

Because it’ll all happen, in due time lapse.

And if you haven’t seen the ad, check it out — watch it & weep!

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