Dina L. Relles

writer. editor. curious + common.


He stands perched on the top step of the hallway staircase and hurtles his soft, round body into space, trusting with full faith that my arms will find him.


His father reprimands him for toying with a fragile keyboard. Ashamed, he approaches me with his head hanging low, face contorted into a silent pre-cry. He burrows his flushed cheeks in the space beneath my chin. He fits perfectly there—the crook of my neck still his chosen retreat when the world comes crashing down on him.


We take a walk on a rare morning alone together. Sometimes I keep pace beside him; sometimes I fall back, letting him lead. To see what he can see. A toss of the head, a hand in his pocket, a glimpse of adolescence.IMG_8970

Now he asks that I not stand in the open doorway as he boards the kindergarten bus. I acquiesce, while secretly looking on through the side window as he walks the concrete path.

He falls one morning, scraping his knees. Instinctively, I run to him, giving myself away. When I reach him, he’s already lifted himself off the ground. Yet still he takes the hand I offer. This time, we walk together the rest of the way.

Wordlessly, he climbs aboard to be gone for the balance of the day. Are you ok? I call after him, needing more. Squinting in the early morning light, I catch a thumbs up from the school bus window. Enough.


A shift, as subtle as it is certain. As unsettling as it is reassuring. We sway, unmoored, tossed about in time’s turbulence—our heads wind-whipped, cheeks chapped. Our feet seeking steady ground. And always weighing. When to catch them. When to let them fall.

21 thoughts on “Fall Shift

  1. Amy says:

    This takes my breath away. So tender, so true, so gorgeously written. . . Simply beautiful. xox

    1. Thank you so much, as always…xoxo

  2. Nina Badzin says:

    Yes unsettling while also reassuring . . . the describes these changes perfectly!

    1. Thanks, Nina…those words were the first to come to me in writing this piece! Thanks for reading 🙂

  3. zsmc says:

    I love this, Dina. I guess life is made up of these small shifts and we are so lucky when we get a chance to glimpse them as they happen.

    1. Yes, so true. And well said. Writing about them has helped me notice and capture them even more. Thanks so much, Zsofi.

  4. tricia says:

    Oh yes. I love the way you softly describe these shifts. I’d be watching and giving myself away too. I love that he took your hand.

    1. Aw…thanks, Tricia. Yes, it was quite the moment. He’s so clearly waging a war within himself–discovering his independence, but needing me still. Such a remarkable age!

  5. Lara says:

    Little made me thankful to still have my own Littles. I could see all of my children in Middle. And Big. Well, Big is testing the stretch of the band that tethers him to you. This is perhaps the greatest shift right now, yes? So hushed, so lovely, as always. xoxo

  6. Oh yes, as I wrote to Tricia above, Big is so clearly struggling with how to set out on his own while simultaneously staying all mine. “Testing the stretch of the band that tethers him to you” — perfect. Thank you for adding your gorgeous words here. xox

  7. acb23 says:

    Just lovely.

    1. Oh thank you…xo

  8. My first visit to you blog and now wondering why!? Loved this so much!

    1. Awww…thank you. Happy to have you here!

  9. rudrip says:

    Love how you describe these mini transitions. Loved the last paragraph, Dina.

  10. What a beautiful post.

  11. thelatchkeymom says:

    Dina, this is beautiful; – and unsettling. Yes, small shifts.

  12. mimisy4 says:

    This is beautiful! Your writing is so vivid. I felt like I could see all those moments unfolding before me just as you did. I especially loved your last three sentences, felt like they captured the essence of parenthood. So glad to have found your blog and gorgeous writing!

  13. Love this. Agreed…those last three sentences are gorgeous. I’m teary.

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