Things whose days are numbered

Things whose days are numbered:

1. The Sweet Dreams Head Rub and Ghostie Dance being enough to assure happy slumber for both kids

2. Sitting on the floor of the gym, a child on my lap, singing our hearts out at the Pre-K, K, and 1st grade holiday sing-a-long at school

3. Whit wearing little briefs printed with robots, dinosaurs, and boats

4. Carrying Whit to bed after taking him to the potty at 10pm.  His legs already dangle alarmingly near my knees

5. Grace happily holding my hand walking down the street

6. Buckling carseats

7. Two children in the bath together

8. Shopping for clothes at Baby Gap

9. Whit picking Goodnight Moon for me to read to him before bed

10. Grace’s sheer wonder at a visit from the tooth fairy

Honestly, the truth of this makes my heart throb.  Makes it ache as though it might split open, like an overripe peach.  How do others handle this, the irrefutable drumbeat march of time?  There’s no question this is my rawest wound.  It is a cord of feeling that vibrates painfully inside me and a shadow that haunts the edges of even the sunniest day.

Adrienne Rich asserts of Marie Curie that “her wounds came from the same source of her power.”  I’m still trying to ascertain exactly how my deep hurt about the impermanence of things might also be a strength.  I am not at all clear on how the source of this  churning well of feeling to which I return again and again could also be a source of power, strength, confidence.

I want my heart to dwell here, in the rooms of my days.  I can only recommit, every single day to trying to remember that, to tugging myself back to now.  I do that even knowing full well my own tendency to mourn an experience even as I’m still in the midst of living it.  I wish I could stop grieving that which will be soon gone, but I’m not sure I can.  Most of our last times happen without us knowing, slipping into the past tense in the narrative of our lives almost unnoticed.  I am more aware than many of this, but even so I fail to mark these transitions all the time.

So, here I go, into the season of white lights and carols, paperwhites and holiday cards, eyes and heart wide open.  This may be the last year that Grace believes in Santa Claus.  May be the last year Whit wears a Baby Gap sweater.  May be the last year they both cite that baking cookies with me is their very favorite thing to do.  More numbered days.  They all are, though, aren’t they?


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11 Comments

  1. Posted December 3, 2010 at 6:12 am | Permalink

    You are right, Lindsey. All of our days are numbered. And we never know what number our final day will be…

    Having been told that my time might be up a few times, this is something I’ve struggled with, too. For the most part, I can just celebrate each day that passes, each ” last time”‘ now, but I cannot for the life of me figure out how that changed. It is a struggle, truly, to know trust that what is ahead is good. The challenge is, I think, to not be so attached to the things we fear we may miss when they are gone that we miss out on really living what is right here, right now.

    These are big questions, Lindsey, and I don’t know the answers. Breathe, know that you love and are loved and keep that beautiful heart of yours open…

  2. Posted December 3, 2010 at 6:36 am | Permalink

    Just beautiful. Oh so heart-achingly true. Me too. Me too. xxoo

  3. Posted December 3, 2010 at 7:54 am | Permalink

    I’m not sure if I believe it yet, but my mother has always said to me that “Every age is the best age.” Did I think O was absolutely the best at four months? Yes, I did not want him to grow an inch. Now, at 10 months, I think he is the best thing ever, just as I did at 9 months, 8 months, etc. I realize that there is a big difference between having no teeth and then all of a sudden teeth and, say, believing and not believing in Santa. I just have to have faith that what my mother says is true.

  4. Posted December 3, 2010 at 8:09 am | Permalink

    Your list makes me melt… so sweet.

  5. Posted December 3, 2010 at 8:29 am | Permalink

    Beautiful,Lindsey! I feel the same way you do .
    I try to live in the moment as much as possible because I know all these days are numbered . It makes me sad at times. I feel gratitude for it all.

  6. Posted December 3, 2010 at 9:24 am | Permalink

    “wearing little briefs printed with robots, dinosaurs, and boats” No way! This is still okay for adults too! 🙂

    I hear you on all of this and certainly entertain these thoughts. What scares me most is my kids moving away and living in a town different than us. I know they need to lead their own lives and have their own families, but I so wish they choose somewhere close to me. Selfish for sure, but still.

  7. Launa
    Posted December 3, 2010 at 9:47 am | Permalink

    No surprise, but once again I am with Kathryn. I’m just a few years ahead of you, but here are some of the things you have to look forward to:

    1.) The surprise of your pre-teen daughter taking your hand as you walk down the street, just because she wants to

    2.) Increasingly interesting conversations about all the things they are learning at school, and in life, and from their friends

    3.) Watching them navigate complicated social waters — both the heartache and the pride you will feel

    4.) Their bodies get longer and longer and magically become teenage-like… it’s an astonishingly beautiful sight

    These days, I do cringe a little realizing that I have stepped over to the next stage of parenting. No more little kids in my house. But I can’t miss a minute of the magic going on before my eyes.

    Perhaps the only solace of losing yesterday is the astonishingly beautiful today.

  8. Posted December 3, 2010 at 10:08 am | Permalink

    I get it. Who knew I’d miss buckling car seats? And I don’t, really. I don’t MISS it. I remember it. Fondly. I loved that era of my life. Because I was REALLY there.

    I think toddlers and preschoolers demanded, DEMANDED I show up to my life RIGHT NOW. And so I did. Maybe for the first time in my life. Maybe not. But I was so present in those days. And, because I woke up, those days are VIVID in my memory.

    My senior high daughter and I are putting together her graduation card. Roughly speaking a picture from every year of her life. So we’ve gone through the photo albums and…I’m not melancholy. Just happy.

    Because I was THERE. I lived my life with this kid. And it feels like it.

    And that is enough.

    I didn’t know that would be OK. But it is.

    I don’t have to cling to make it real. And that makes me feel free. This is big for me. Thanks for helping me notice this.

    Interesting to me how your stage of life is informing mine.

  9. Posted December 3, 2010 at 2:22 pm | Permalink

    I wrote a post on this awhile back. I was wistful after looking through photos for one of the kid’s school projects. I was wistful of the days being gone. My friend made a comment to me:

    Is the time really gone? I think you use your time wisely, so I wouldn’t look at it like that.

    And this was what I wrote at the time:

    Wow. I can’t explain why, but this really struck me. It made me think – is the time really gone? Is time “gone” if you use it well? We have fun. We do things as a family. We enjoy life. We create memories, even if it’s doing nothing. Instead of being sad or wistful of days gone by, I can celebrate the time we’ve had – the experiences shared. Getting to know my kids for the people they are becoming. I find this concept to be exciting and liberating. It motivates me to set the chores aside and enjoy myself and my time with the kids. There will always be dishes to wash, laundry to do, dinners to cook. But I will not always have my kids at home with me; to share with me moments to be captured in a photo, or not.

    So I think my friend is right. I use my time wisely so the time will never truly be gone.

  10. Posted December 6, 2010 at 6:43 am | Permalink

    I commented last week but it seemed to have disappeared into a black hole.
    I feel for you, but I can’t help wondering if you can make another list at the same time, all the new nice things that keep appearing around you.
    In our transient world, you have to be a witness to the things that come as well as the things that go, otherwise it’s just melancholy. I do believe that those tiny things that you keep in your heart, in your memory, are not lost forever, you will meet them again in another form years afterward, and they will bring you another kind of joy.

  11. Posted March 7, 2013 at 1:16 pm | Permalink

    Awe, so bittersweet! Those passages kill me. My 8 year old just lost her tooth and she is so trying to trip me up, and it makes me sad…once the Tooth Fairy falls, so soon does the Easter Bunny. Then the last man standing is Santa, but for how long?!