Stop and smell the flowers

March 27, 2015


Fairhope flowers, Fairhope Alabama TulipsSpring flowers remind me of spring cleaning, which reminds me of organizing closets, which always leads me to think about the days not so long ago when I would rotate the big hand-me-down box from one son to the other. As I pulled clothes out and held them up, my youngest eyed a green shirt his big brother had worn a couple of years earlier. The enthusiastic three year old jumped around the room and cried out, “A green shirt? I’ve always wanted a green shirt!” Next came shouts of joy when he saw a pair of blue pants. “I love blue pants – Yay!” Bless his heart full of sunshine, before he was older and wiser, a box of hand-me-down clothes seemed like Christmas morning with ham in the oven.

Eton Suit, Fairhope, AL- Fairhope Supply Co. Since boys can be rough on clothes, there weren’t many things that survived the transition to child #2. The clothing that usually held up the best was the Sunday big-church clothes. With little wear and tear, and more cuteness per square inch, the tiny blazers and bow ties were always a good investment, and a steal when compared to what I would have spent on a little girl. When my eldest would question why he had to wear such a dressy get-up, I told him it was his “Bruce Wayne” costume – Batman’s true persona. Since he was usually in some sort of a cape and mask the rest of the week, this seemed plausible, and on his way into church one morning, whispered to his Sunday School teacher, “You don’t know my secret identity.”

Eton Suit, Fairhope AL, Fairhope Supply Co. One year, after unpacking a much-loved, but barely worn bright red blazer, I saw a huge mass of gorgeous red tulips along the bluff of Mobile Bay. I knew instantly, this was the perfect spot to bring little guy to take his photograph, perfectly posed in his “new” red blazer. I imagined how precious he would be, standing with the tulips hitting him just below his little shoulders and the red petals matching his coat and clip-on tie that was decorated with yellow dump trucks.

Red blazer, Fairhope AL, Fairhope Supply Co.

The photo had to be taken at a time of day when there would be no shadows and my son would be well-fed, well-rested and in good spirits. The next afternoon, we were busy running errands, but I made a mental note to try and take cutie-pie to the flower bed the following day, except when the time rolled around, it was raining. The day after that, Junior was in the middle of a very long and much needed nap, and after that  . . . well, after that, I had things to do and just forgot.

When I finally remembered the photo that would have certainly made the cover of, “Toddler Today,” the tulips were dropping their petals and didn’t look like such a picturesque scene anymore. By the next year, the coat was too small, and anyway, the flower bed had been changed to pink.

Fairhope Tulips, Fairhope AL, Fairhope Supply Co. It’s hard – no, impossible, for parents to do everything we want to do with our children, and although I was blessed to be able to spend as much time with them as I did, it’s still funny how I can always think of one more thing I wish we had done.

Twelve years have passed, and this year, the bed overlooking the Bay was filled with purple tulips. It was my annual reminder to take time for the little things, like stopping to smell the flowers, because tomorrow, they’ll be gone. Both the boys and the tulips.


This story first appeared in my column, “Southern with a Gulf Coast accent” which can be found in the Gulf Coast Newspapers.

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  1. How sweet is this story? My son wore the Eton suits sans the bow tie. I still love them. Did your sons wear the black and white saddle shoes? When my son was about 4 he begged to not have to wear the “fat shoes” for Easter. Then when he was about 15-16 he went shopping with his grandmother and came home with black and white Doc Martins. Really? He still has his Doc Martin “fat shoes”.

    1. That’s so funny! I love those little baby shoes, and yes, they wore them with little white knee socks. To see how they dress now . . . sigh.

  2. Careful….you almost made me cry. My boys are grown and I can think of a hundred things I wish I had done but I loved them fiercely and they knew it so it’s all okay. But….. I wish I had done more small traditions with them like putting my hands on them and praying for them before they left for school for the day, or maybe singing a certain silly song as I made grill cheese sandwiches every Sunday….etc. I didn’t realize then that these little traditions are what they will remember the most. So young moms take my advice and make some small traditions with your children. I didn’t completely fail at that…they remember some things but I never realized how much some things would matter to them. My youngest (25) year old just recently told me he wanted our orange Tupperware tea pitcher because that was all he ever remembered me serving tea in and he wants a Holly Hobby quilt that I won when they were small because it was the most comfortable cover we always used to snuggle with. Sorry I got off track from your post but it just made me melancholy…..:) Loved your post!! Have a great week!!

    1. Such excellent advice and I’m sure your sons (and mine) will remember far more than we ever know. It’s funny how a lot of things like that only come back to us when we have children of our own. Thanks for the awesome observations and thoughts.

  3. Leslie Anne, I know you came close to doing it all! I know I certainly tried and even knowing this after the little coats and ties have been handed down to my grandson I still think of things I wish I had done. I guess it is just human nature to want it all. Impossible…………….Love the pics.

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