Mono No Aware

I came across this article about Untranslatable words by Lauren McKay in Urban Times awhile back and the term that spoke to me the most was the Japanese term Mono No Aware*. This term, according to McKay relates to "the bitter sweetness of transience, and a sadness for the passing of things."

I'm not a fan of endings. I definitely have a melancholy bent. I hate when books end. I cling to stages my kids are in long after they themselves have abandoned them (i.e. what? no more sippy cups (and breastfeeding before that)?, come on guys). I prolong saying goodbye in many different ways. I hold on to memorabilia, like ticket stubs and cat hair (okay, not anymore) and old letters.   I leave my Christmas ornaments up way too long and agonize over little changes (haircuts and throwing out my daughter's school work) and much bigger ones (moving house and swapping jobs) with almost the same measure.

Beginnings I can do. I start lots of things on a regular basis. I start new exercise regimes, new routines and projects all the time, but deciding when and how to stop those started things for something different that will meet my needs better is not so easy for me.  I want to hold on.

 I am really trying to pull myself out of this and appreciate whatever is happening right now while still honouring what has passed. Embracing the stage my kids are at today and seeing the unique ways they are seeing the world in this moment and not cling to the infants they no longer are has been challenging but an inevitable part of my education as a parent. I am forcing myself to decide which art is most significant and take care of it instead of letting it all pile up and not taking time to even look at it.

There is a beautiful achiness to the sorrow with the ending of things.  The last breastfeed.  The last time in my old school, my old apartment, my old house.  However, the changing of seasons and growing kids have overtime helped me to reconcile with endings.  After all, endings are merely passageways to the beginnings I'm so fond of.

*mono (物), which means “thing”, and aware(哀れ), which was a expression of measured surprise, like when we say “ah!” or “oh”.  So,mono no aware is sometimes translated as the ahh-ness of things.(Lauren McKay, Urban Times 2012)


  1. ah breastfeeding I'm already sad thinking it will have to end in couple of months... crazy me


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