If you have children, you have inevitably been asked by an older relative, a friend from your past, or a kind of annoying neighbor, “Where has the time gone?!”
As a mother of almost 3 year-old-twins, this question irks me. You may have noticed this if you read my blog regularly-as I have written about the passage of time often. I struggle to “be in the moment”. I imagine we all do somewhat, but for me, I find myself obsessing over what I used to have, what used to be. I long for the days in which my twins were newborn babies, smelling softly of milk and laundry detergent…all the while ignoring the fact that I never slept, fought incessantly with my husband and rarely left the house.
Regardless, I think it is safe to say that every mother mourns the passage of time with her children. It’s a deep ache that can sometimes be shrugged away, but one that waits for us in the pit of our stomachs, ready to be ignited by yet another Facebook comment or text message that says “Wow! Your children grew up!”
Because of course, time is time. It isn’t technically any different today than it was when I was six or sixteen or twenty-six. Sixty seconds is still a minute. But with kids, the days are so full and fly by so quickly that it’s easy to feel as though you are operating in fast forward mode. Further, their physical and intellectual growth is so pronounced in the early years that one day you have a baby and the next you have a child. And that’s really really hard for a mother to accept. Because every second that races by is one less second that we are needed. Motherhood is the only job in which you are working to be fired. Think about that. The late hours, the worry, the physical and mental exhaustion are all in an attempt to be, one day, put out of a job. One day they will leave my house and move into a dorm, or an apartment or a home and family of their own. And that is devastating.
And yet it is simultaneously exciting and incredible. Ah the paradox of motherhood continues.
So I guess I would say this: Just as you are struggling each day to “Be Here Now”, so am I. When you comment on how much my child has grown, how they’ll be walking down the aisle any day now, how close we are to the end, remember that we mothers are already acutely aware of this fact. Just as you were when your kids were young. We are already in mourning. We are already trying to cling on to a speeding train.
We are already terrified of being fired.