“You know you don’t get this time back,” go the sobering, older ladies. It feels too type-A, feels like icy snowballs. I don’t need or want any more reminders of how short childhood is, but these ladies always find me.
“You can’t get it back, this age, you know. It’s already gone”. Yes, I groan, with an internal scowl. Right, and this mealtime, this cute speech where she still can’t enunciate the “er”s and he hugs, “wuv ooooo!” with a smooch. I’m already there; I know time is short.“
Where do they think we’re trying to go? Does it look like I’ve got one or two feet out the door, passport stuffed in a sippy cup, “Date Night in Antigua or Bust” spray painted on my jacket? (it’s not like I could get a babysitter, this time of day). Who says we’re not enjoying it, these days and weeks and years with the beautiful ones we’ve knelt down with to fix their cars, or suggest an alternate way to tie on wings. These are the beings we’ve birthed, reveling in their baby breath, sitting skin-to-skin. We know it’s fast.
They are the same babes who learned color and sound, heck, basic trust, with us. We flash to when they were only milk-fed and we could simply get lost and found on the shores of their foreheads, those sweet downy hairs growing in, showing me fleeting peeks at who they would be when older.
“Don’t forget” they taunt; “it all leaves you!”
I see wisps of those first day, just-born kids; they are my same people, the children who clamor into the shower and scrub their own lanky bodies. I know every tickle spot, every muscle and dimple.
Who says I’m not enjoying it, this hard, glorious, demanding work? This thing of life, this parade of time?
It is dreadful enough to know we people cannot forever exist in these forms. The pain of a life span is already tough to swallow, ladies and gents. Of course, I acknowledge that time moves. We, women, have knelt down in birth; we know Time. We are one big circadian rhythm, in line with the moon. I know fullness and fading, gimme a break. The important things are forever, though, I say to myself. I believe in the eternal.
Really, it’s the anxiety that must go. It’s just fear. Out like soapy dishwater! Out, crooked lady lips that bark, “You’re losing them!” or “You’re too busy to be a good mom. You’ll never be relaxed”. I have a longing to flick these warnings far away! Yet, they are right, in part.
This is the truth of right now–there will never be another moment with all like this, so young. It is an existential truth. There will never again be this night, with this exact moon, the conversation, the giggly songs of my children at almost five years old and two and a half.
Every moment is a kind of love song if we sing it. How do we want to be, I mean, really be, in light of that? The world is changing; our babies are outgrowing their new clothes two hours from now. How will we speak to them? And to ourselves?
I look at their chins, the architectural arcs, lines, planes of the beings I have known since they were little bigger than grains of pearled rice.
The magic of growing is that it is inside and out. Even now, there is growth in my thoughts and a letting go. We don’t need to hold these moments white-knuckled with fear. I realize I’ve lived this way for a long time, afraid to really exhale, afraid something monumental would change. Really, though? The whole universe is in constant change, at every moment.
Now is the sum of all moments before; it is the excitement of four-year-olds already feeling five. Change can be wonderful for us mothers. It is the first night out after giving birth, alone or with your partner. It is the potty training, no more diapers, and first days of school, witnessing your kid buying something with her own hard-earned money.
So go on, ladies. Tell me how I’ll never get it back. I’ll say a little prayer for the grace to hold out my hands, not to squelch change inside my house. I won’t cry when I measure their little heads. I’ll high five.
It is the growing that is great, not just the staying. I’ll not drag my feet, but will celebrate. We don’t have to be afraid if we’re really living.