Since the birth of my son, I’ve been forced to slow down. My “Go, Go, Go” mantra was put on hold.
The first few months, when he was waking up every few hours to nurse, all my spare time was spent napping along with him throughout the day. One day slipped into another in this way, but yet I had a very authentic grasp of experiencing every moment. It was as if my entire life could be signified by a time turner. The sand that descends so quickly, making me so wish for just a bit more, was replaced by thick, amber honey, oozing so fluidly, so slowly, making every nanosecond count. The days felt truly full, filled to the brim with precious, priceless memories. Rather than not nearly long enough, with so many things left undone.
Once my son started sleeping through the night, and therefore I was able to also, I wasn’t tired anymore during the day. Well, not nearly as much, that is. That allowed me to spend my days focused on Baby E, and get much needed things done around the house during most of his daily naps: laundry, dishes, prepping cloth diapers for use, cooking, baking, etc. But, unlike the days of old, which always had a sense of urgency as I ran around trying to cram as many things into a window of time as possible, I take it easy. Some days, when he drifts off to sleep, I don’t get up. I just look at him. I watch how the soft light, streaming in through the curtains, kisses his face. I watch his chest slowly rise and fall, and appreciate how truly precious every breath he takes is. In such priceless moments, it seems like I can almost feel time pass. It feels like I could almost, just almost, see it.
Now, time goes fast in a different way. My son is almost seven months old. Seven!!! Watching my son grow, and learn, and change everyday has given me a profound grasp of time. Once we reach maturity, it seems there are no changes in us from year to year. We get fixed in our lifestyle, our habits, and we find our look and we stick to it. So the years slip through our fingers, and we don’t even notice. But once you have children, it is not possible to ignore these things. A year, which seems so insignificant to those of us who are all grown up, seems infinite and enormous in the eyes of a child. I am trying to see time as my son might now. To see every day as a magnificent amount of time, with endless promise and potential.
The average human being lives 78 years, therefore, theoretically, we have a lot of time in which to live our lives. We plan our entire existences, accordingly, around the presumption that we have all the time in the world. But it is never safe to assume anything. It takes only one event, one day, one moment, to change your life forever. If I still lived my life in a way where I was always on the go, and I died tomorrow, I have no doubt my last moments would be filled with regret. I would think about how I should have done things differently. But, right now, if I were to die tomorrow, I’d be sad about the things I wouldn’t know (the way my son will look 20 years from now, who he’ll marry, what his children will look like, etc.), but I would be content. Because I would know that at least my husband and my son have each other, and that, while I lived, I gave them all the time I had, tried to appreciate every moment, and loved them with all my heart.
This is not to say, of course, that you should never plan ahead. Nor am I saying that you should live in fear that at any moment you could die. Of course, that’s no way to live, and life is always about balance. But the French have a shorter work day, a lunch hour 4x that of the average American, and a much longer vacation time, and they seem much more content with life. Should a single mother have to work three jobs to support her children, which allows her little or no time to actually spend with them?
So I’m taking to remember, that when things seem to pile up, and I get irritable and frustrated, to just take a deep breath. To remember not to get caught up in the small things that, next week, I won’t even remember. To instead appreciate the little things and the big things who make me who I am, that give me meaning, that make my life whole.
Right now, I’m sipping at a cup of tea as Baby E takes his morning nap. There’s laundry and dishes that need tending to, but I’m not going to fret. It will get done eventually. And even if I didn’t get around to it today, it wouldn’t be the end of the world. Not even close.