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2013 January 9
by Rachel Turiel

Lately, Col’s been infected with a bout of what we call around here, snuggle fever. He climbs on my lap while I’m horse-blindering my way through coffee and newspaper; he whispers, at 6:02 am: “the most important part of having a Mommy is loving her;” he Titanics into the iceberg of my hips when I’m cooking, thrusting his arms up—toddler-style—for me to lift him up. And I do.


Snuggle-fevering with Nana

Today I held him close and patted his back, pretending to burp him, which was one of the high-level, advanced parenting skills taught to us in the NICU. When Col graduated to the Feed and Grow room after 3 months in Acute Care, I was cleared to try and nurse him once a day (each time was like hearing my name called at the Oscars. Rachel Turiel, please step up and address the audience (5-pound boy) with your milk-packed breast, which is to say I was thrilled and nervous. Every. Single. Time). After our nursing attempt, I’d pass him to Dan, who would execute such skillful thumps on Col’s tiny back that the emergent burps were like symphonies choreographed by a grand conductor.

This sounds like hyperbole, I know, but really, these visits to the hospital were the sun that the planet of my motherhood orbited for months. The notion then that this bitty baby could be turning eight was like pondering another galaxy, one devoid of the most ordinary things, like say, gravity and oxygen settings. And holy science espeerments, here we are. Eight.


Can you find the 8 year old boy?

And oh how I miss that rounded, wordless baby whose wide blue eyes tracked me like air traffic control monitoring a plane coming in; or that funny, energetic toddler who’d burst into the living room, announcing gleefully “uh oh! uh oh!” because he’d sneakily flipped on his space heater (the best part of which was outing himself); or that 5-year old who told me matter-of-factly “Rosie’s new thing to get what she wants is just to grab you.” And then was corrected by 3-year old Rose: “I only do that to you, Coley.”


But really, I don’t want to go back in time, I like now best. I just want more now. I’d yank the needle off the spinning record of our lives if I could just to bask in the warmth of snuggle fever a little longer…but not for too long, because I already see that it keeps getting better. I just didn’t want parenting to go quite so fast. Not because it’s easy (easy! ha!), but because witnessing the growth and evolution of a child is exquisite. To love and be loved unconditionally is both like being encased in protective armor, and also like having it shatter daily, because it’s the most tender, vulnerable skin you’ll ever wear.

Happy Birthday to a beautiful, creative, bright, evolving, eight year old boy.


On the occasion of turning seven, six, and five.

*sorry about earlier snafu with e-mail subscribers. I plead being 40 and not really getting the medium on which I make my living. xo

36 Responses leave one →
  1. Peggy permalink
    January 9, 2013

    This part of your post, “To love and be loved unconditionally is both like being encased in protective armor, and also like having it shatter daily, because it’s the most tender, vulnerable skin you’ll ever wear.” absolutely sent me over the edge. It so perfectly depicts my every day. I wish you were in my head every day to remind me of these things…..and it does move a little too fast sometimes, doesn’t it? Charlie will be 8 in February – and I feel exactly the same way you do.
    Thank you once again for putting into words what I cannot.

    Happy Birthday to Col!!!

  2. Dave Brown permalink
    January 9, 2013

    Your blog just keeps getting better, too, Rachael. Please keep writing — even for the lurkers. I’ll keep reading every post and crying when you make me.

    Sincere thanks,
    Dave (a friend of Allison Wildman)

  3. Jaime Becktel permalink
    January 9, 2013

    So lovely. I remember when Col was brand new and so very fragile. Now he’s full of boy things and covered in dirt. I love him. I love you. Happy birthday Col, to all of you.

  4. Cait permalink
    January 9, 2013

    Wow! Happiest of birthdays Col!!

  5. Emmanuelle permalink
    January 9, 2013

    Happy, happy birthday Col! 8 is great :o) I am sending you a drawing via email (hope it works…)

    Rachel, you say it all so beautifully, in raw and sincere words, that we are somehow standing beside you in retrospect, absorbing the strength and the vulnerability, the hope and the relief, and most of all Col’s own “curious and feisty” nature, his gentle ebullience, his wise and tender heart.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 10, 2013

      Breathtakingly gorgeous painting!

      Col says: I love the deer that you painted and I will send a picture to you.
      Rose says: I am Col’s sister and I like it a lot too!

  6. January 9, 2013

    Happy Birthday Col! I can’t believe he’s eight already and that I’ve been following your blog for three years…it seems like just yesterday, sigh….

    I will never get enough of your outrageously witty and *perfect* metaphors and analogies. Thanks so much for writing on this platform, even though you’re forty and have every excuse to stick to print.

  7. January 9, 2013

    I’m in tears. So happy for you. And for the birthday boy, of course! I love that you still lift him up, and the things he says to you. Such a sweet and loving boy.

    Happy birthday, Col!

    And this part? ” To love and be loved unconditionally is both like being encased in protective armor, and also like having it shatter daily, because it’s the most tender, vulnerable skin you’ll ever wear.” Amen sister. But no one could have said it quite as poetically as you have.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 10, 2013

      Justine, for all that picking up and holding and cuddling, it helps that Col hasn’t hit 40 pounds yet. xo

  8. January 10, 2013

    Eight is special. A lovely post.

  9. Kristen permalink
    January 10, 2013

    Happy Birthday, Col, from Riley and all the Roesslers. Eight – wow! And Happy Birth Day to you, Mama Rachel. What a ride its been. Thank you for sharing your journey and expressing so beautifully so many of your fellow parents thoughts. Your words are a regular gift to me

  10. Lori Durst permalink
    January 10, 2013

    LOVE IT ! We have no children, by choice, but I sure enjoy hearing about dear Cole and Rose. :o) Big birthday wishes to him!

  11. January 10, 2013

    Happy Birthday to your sweet, snuggly boy!!!

  12. Sarah permalink
    January 10, 2013

    Wow! He’s eight. That’s amazing. Thanks for sharing. Love how you write.

  13. Bree permalink
    January 10, 2013

    Love that snuggle fever — I think my boy will never outgrow it and he’s 9 1/2. Still with the arms up, still with the sweet talk, and always with the “Let me kiss you” when I least expect it. Little boys are awesome.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 10, 2013

      Oh good, glad to hear snuggle fever is still alive and well at 9 1/2. I keep wondering when it will get outgrown here.

  14. Claire Ninde permalink
    January 10, 2013

    Happy Birthday to Col! This posting made me cry! ( The sentence that seems to have gotten everyone above.) Beautifully written.


  15. Carole permalink
    January 10, 2013

    I was lucky to have found your column in the Durango Herald when my family moved from Southern California to Durango in 2009. It was love at first sight for me…we had to move back to Cali last year, and I found myself googling the Herald to get your articles…awe, thanks to FB, I get them here now. You’re writing is righ up there with Anne Lamott to me….inspiring and it mostly just pulls my heart strings every time.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 10, 2013

      Thank you, Carole. Sorry you didn’t get to stay in Durango longer and that our paths didn’t cross while you were here. xo

  16. January 10, 2013

    Happy Birthday Col.
    Rachel, your words on parenthood sum it up beautifully.

  17. Ingrid permalink
    January 10, 2013

    Happy Birthday Col, may it be filled with lots of snuggles! and PS..Rachel I had a few sweet mama tears reading your blog. xoxo

  18. January 10, 2013

    happy day col!!!!

    this is all so lovely and exactly how it feels!

    and how crazy to see ROSE, plain as day, peering out of your mom’s smiling face.

  19. January 10, 2013

    Eight years old. Wow. Unimaginable. But yes, this parenting thing does go awfully fast, and lately I’ve become terrified at just how quickly these coming years might go.

    More now — yes! And blessings to Col in his ninth (!) year.

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 11, 2013

      Right. It’s hard not to project how fast the *next* 8 years could go. Waaaaa.

  20. Chris permalink
    January 10, 2013

    Happy Birthday Col!! I hate that Iris and I will not be there to celebrate with y’all but feel sure we will see you soon. I love the picture from a certain canyon tributary to the Juan with the best rope swing yet!

    Much love,

  21. January 11, 2013

    What a beautiful birthday post and, being a NICU mama, I remember those days well too. How every moment I could even touch my babies was like Christmas morning. Happy Birthday to your eight year-old.

  22. Stacy permalink
    January 11, 2013

    Happiest birthday wishes Col!!! Such a wise, sweet boy from the beginning! Happy Birthday to his fabulous family too! A lucky boy indeed! :)

    • Rachel Turiel permalink
      January 11, 2013

      Thank YOU for being on his medical team. Forever grateful! xoxoxo

  23. Jen W. permalink
    January 11, 2013

    Happy birthday sweet Col- I know it is a day late- but we send love and hugs for a wonderfully fun year! XOXO

  24. January 11, 2013

    happy birthday coley!!! love the snuggle fever. my boy has it bad. love!

  25. Emily permalink
    January 11, 2013

    Happy 8th Col!! I hope there was lots of outside time followed by something sweet to eat.

  26. January 11, 2013

    Happy Birthday Coley!! :-)

  27. Brenda permalink
    January 12, 2013

    “the most important thing about having a mommy is loving her.” That is the most precious thing any kid could say to a mommy! Lucky You! Happy Birthday Cole!!! The best is yet to come!

  28. January 14, 2013

    I just adore your writing. Maybe I don’t tell you that enough. And I love the tales of the once wordless, wobbly wide-eyed boy. Can’t believe he’s 8. Duude. Where does time go??
    Betty is an eight year old, too. Blink of the eye I tell ya.

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