The Here Year, September: TIME

Maybe it’s apropos that I’m a little, um, late, posting about the topic that Aidan has chosen for September’s Here Year explorations.

Time.

Time is a subject that fascinates me.  You could argue that time’s inexorable, sometimes-brutally-swift passages is the black hole around which all of my writing swirls.

I have a lot to say about time.

I believe that time is our only zero-sum resource, and that one of the most important decisions of all that we make is how to spend the hours we have.

I believe that time, and attention, are the surest way to show love.

I believe that no matter how frantically I grasp and regardless of how present I am, of how fiercely I focus on being here now, time flies by me.  The truth is, it is going faster and faster.  I’m sorry to say that this is a deeply sad reality in my life.  I wish it wasn’t so.  It feels appropriate to repost this piece from June 2013, in which I wrote about this very thing.

Jun05-550x412

I can close my eyes and be back in this afternoon, exactly 7 years ago, June 2005, with baby Whit, 2 year old Grace, and my grandfather, who is no longer with us

It’s not a secret that I struggled with my entry into motherhood.  Grace’s infancy was not my finest hour.  I remember large swaths of time as only a blur of tears and a wailing baby that occurred in a permanent twilight that wasn’t day and wasn’t night.  But, somehow, I remember with crystalline clarity one comment that I received over and over again from kindly, well-intentioned people, friends and strangers alike:

“Make sure to enjoy this moment.  It goes so fast!”

Just like everybody else I know, I heard this more times than I can possibly count.  And every single time, through the haze of my exhaustion and despair, I recognized a kernel of truth.  This sentence pierced my gloom over and over again.  But the truth is it made me want to scream; this is probably because the sentiment cut close to the bone.  As with all statements that are uncomfortably true, I did not like hearing it.  And I swore to myself I would never tell a mother with a newborn to enjoy this time.

And yet I have.  More than once, I’ve looked at a mother with a tiny baby, or a mother with a baby in a Bjorn and a two year old by the hand, dark valleys under her eyes and a slightly wild, exasperated expression, and longed to be back there.  The way I express this longing is to say: “Oh, those were the days.  They go fast. Enjoy them.”

Every time I kick myself: Ugh, Lindsey, you swore you’d never say that.  I can remember vividly my own negative reaction to those comments.  But I realize now that the people who said that were just sharing their own nostalgia the only way they knew how.

Even now, aware as I am of not wanting to squander these moments with my children at home, I find myself – daily! – wishing time away.  I am sore from the cold bleachers under my legs at soccer try-outs, I am listening to a detailed story about a 2nd grade bus ride that is being told in real time, I am tired myself, just want to get into bed with my own book, and this third glass of water is going to put me over the edge.  I have realized this is simply the nature of parenting; the adage that the days are long but the years are short is so powerful precisely because it is true.

I am much better at appreciating my experience than I used to be.  There’s no question about that.  But even when I really AM there, even when I’m fully open and appreciating all the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of my particular life with my particular children at this particular moment, it still goes by too fast.  And this is the bitter part of my life’s bittersweet core: nothing I do, no paying attention and being here now can slow the drumbeat march of time.  No matter how present I am I cannot alter the hasty onrush of this life.

Sometimes that truth feels unbearably bitter.  Of course, yes, I do know that it’s bitter in direct proportion to the sweetness.  The presence I have worked hard to cultivate over many years has left me with very rich memories of this season of my life.  I’m grateful beyond expression for the way this blog has chronicled much of my life with my children.  I have thousands of photographs and dozens of letters.  But nothing I can do, neither white-knuckled hanging on nor meditative letting go, will make these days and years last longer.  I guess when I say the thing I swore I’d never say to new mothers, I’m trying to communicate that.  But I should stop, because I know it doesn’t help.

I’m pretty sure that my grandfather, in the photograph above, told me with a sigh that these days would go fast.  I know he handed me some notes that my grandmother had written about observing the development of boys (she should know: she had four).  But I also know that I probably shook my head, worrying about getting Whit down for a nap and making pasta for Grace, grimaced at the ugly plastic toys in my kitchen, and told him in a way that was both heartfelt and dismissive: I know, I know.

I thought I knew what he meant.  But I didn’t.  I do now.

It’s not a secret that I struggled with my entry into motherhood.  Grace’s infancy was not my finest hour.  I remember large swaths of time as only a blur of tears and a wailing baby that occurred in a permanent twilight that wasn’t day and wasn’t night.  But, somehow, I remember with crystalline clarity one comment that I received over and over again from kindly, well-intentioned people, friends and strangers alike:

“Make sure to enjoy this moment.  It goes so fast!”

Just like everybody else I know, I heard this more times than I can possibly count.  And every single time, through the haze of my exhaustion and despair, I recognized a kernel of truth.  This sentence pierced my gloom over and over again.  But the truth is it made me want to scream; this is probably because the sentiment cut close to the bone.  As with all statements that are uncomfortably true, I did not like hearing it.  And I swore to myself I would never tell a mother with a newborn to enjoy this time.

And yet I have.  More than once, I’ve looked at a mother with a tiny baby, or a mother with a baby in a Bjorn and a two year old by the hand, dark valleys under her eyes and a slightly wild, exasperated expression, and longed to be back there.  The way I express this longing is to say: “Oh, those were the days.  They go fast. Enjoy them.”

Every time I kick myself: Ugh, Lindsey, you swore you’d never say that.  I can remember vividly my own negative reaction to those comments.  But I realize now that the people who said that were just sharing their own nostalgia the only way they knew how.

Even now, aware as I am of not wanting to squander these moments with my children at home, I find myself – daily! – wishing time away.  I am sore from the cold bleachers under my legs at soccer try-outs, I am listening to a detailed story about a 2nd grade bus ride that is being told in real time, I am tired myself, just want to get into bed with my own book, and this third glass of water is going to put me over the edge.  I have realized this is simply the nature of parenting; the adage that the days are long but the years are short is so powerful precisely because it is true.

I am much better at appreciating my experience than I used to be.  There’s no question about that.  But even when I really AM there, even when I’m fully open and appreciating all the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of my particular life with my particular children at this particular moment, it still goes by too fast.  And this is the bitter part of my life’s bittersweet core: nothing I do, no paying attention and being here now can slow the drumbeat march of time.  No matter how present I am I cannot alter the hasty onrush of this life.

Sometimes that truth feels unbearably bitter.  Of course, yes, I do know that it’s bitter in direct proportion to the sweetness.  The presence I have worked hard to cultivate over many years has left me with very rich memories of this season of my life.  I’m grateful beyond expression for the way this blog has chronicled much of my life with my children.  I have thousands of photographs and dozens of letters.  But nothing I can do, neither white-knuckled hanging on nor meditative letting go, will make these days and years last longer.  I guess when I say the thing I swore I’d never say to new mothers, I’m trying to communicate that.  But I should stop, because I know it doesn’t help.

I’m pretty sure that my grandfather, in the photograph above, told me with a sigh that these days would go fast.  I know he handed me some notes that my grandmother had written about observing the development of boys (she should know: she had four).  But I also know that I probably shook my head, worrying about getting Whit down for a nap and making pasta for Grace, grimaced at the ugly plastic toys in my kitchen, and told him in a way that was both heartfelt and dismissive: I know, I know.

I thought I knew what he meant.  But I didn’t.  I do now.

– See more at: http://www.adesignsovast.com/2013/06/i-just-cant-do-it/#sthash.XswbKp7d.dpuf

It’s not a secret that I struggled with my entry into motherhood.  Grace’s infancy was not my finest hour.  I remember large swaths of time as only a blur of tears and a wailing baby that occurred in a permanent twilight that wasn’t day and wasn’t night.  But, somehow, I remember with crystalline clarity one comment that I received over and over again from kindly, well-intentioned people, friends and strangers alike:

“Make sure to enjoy this moment.  It goes so fast!”

Just like everybody else I know, I heard this more times than I can possibly count.  And every single time, through the haze of my exhaustion and despair, I recognized a kernel of truth.  This sentence pierced my gloom over and over again.  But the truth is it made me want to scream; this is probably because the sentiment cut close to the bone.  As with all statements that are uncomfortably true, I did not like hearing it.  And I swore to myself I would never tell a mother with a newborn to enjoy this time.

And yet I have.  More than once, I’ve looked at a mother with a tiny baby, or a mother with a baby in a Bjorn and a two year old by the hand, dark valleys under her eyes and a slightly wild, exasperated expression, and longed to be back there.  The way I express this longing is to say: “Oh, those were the days.  They go fast. Enjoy them.”

Every time I kick myself: Ugh, Lindsey, you swore you’d never say that.  I can remember vividly my own negative reaction to those comments.  But I realize now that the people who said that were just sharing their own nostalgia the only way they knew how.

Even now, aware as I am of not wanting to squander these moments with my children at home, I find myself – daily! – wishing time away.  I am sore from the cold bleachers under my legs at soccer try-outs, I am listening to a detailed story about a 2nd grade bus ride that is being told in real time, I am tired myself, just want to get into bed with my own book, and this third glass of water is going to put me over the edge.  I have realized this is simply the nature of parenting; the adage that the days are long but the years are short is so powerful precisely because it is true.

I am much better at appreciating my experience than I used to be.  There’s no question about that.  But even when I really AM there, even when I’m fully open and appreciating all the sights, sounds, smells, and emotions of my particular life with my particular children at this particular moment, it still goes by too fast.  And this is the bitter part of my life’s bittersweet core: nothing I do, no paying attention and being here now can slow the drumbeat march of time.  No matter how present I am I cannot alter the hasty onrush of this life.

Sometimes that truth feels unbearably bitter.  Of course, yes, I do know that it’s bitter in direct proportion to the sweetness.  The presence I have worked hard to cultivate over many years has left me with very rich memories of this season of my life.  I’m grateful beyond expression for the way this blog has chronicled much of my life with my children.  I have thousands of photographs and dozens of letters.  But nothing I can do, neither white-knuckled hanging on nor meditative letting go, will make these days and years last longer.  I guess when I say the thing I swore I’d never say to new mothers, I’m trying to communicate that.  But I should stop, because I know it doesn’t help.

I’m pretty sure that my grandfather, in the photograph above, told me with a sigh that these days would go fast.  I know he handed me some notes that my grandmother had written about observing the development of boys (she should know: she had four).  But I also know that I probably shook my head, worrying about getting Whit down for a nap and making pasta for Grace, grimaced at the ugly plastic toys in my kitchen, and told him in a way that was both heartfelt and dismissive: I know, I know.

I thought I knew what he meant.  But I didn’t.  I do now.

– See more at: http://www.adesignsovast.com/2013/06/i-just-cant-do-it/#sthash.XswbKp7d.dpuf


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10 Comments

  1. Posted September 10, 2014 at 4:16 am | Permalink

    I think we aren’t supposed to know in the moment. It is in the way the understanding comes and goes that we are able to deeply value and also intensely live the moments.

    I work at not having guilt, because life and emotions aren’t orderly, they are a tangle of bed head, made so from the living that we do. It’s good, hard and heartbreaking at times, but oh so good.

    Beautiful post, as ever.

    admin Reply:

    I hope you are right. I suspect you are right. Thank you. xox

  2. Posted September 10, 2014 at 6:24 am | Permalink

    As always, beautiful, Lindsey. One of my real-life friends posted your 10-year-old daughter piece from HuffPo on FB. She says your words have helped her tremendously. She has 10yo twin girls.

    Yes, time always rushes on. This past week, my just-turned 12yo lost his last tooth. The tooth fairy came for the last time to our house. Bittersweet. We definitely can’t stop time. But it’s in the sharing with others, maybe sometimes saying things we wish we wouldn’t urge, like to slow down and enjoy — it’s in the sharing with others these journeys we’re on, that the light shines a bit brighter.

    Thank you for always sharing. Your words are changing the world for the better. xoxo

    admin Reply:

    Thank you so much for this. I really appreciate your telling me about you friend. And your kind words here, and all the ways you are a kindred spirit of the finest kind! xox

  3. Alessandra
    Posted September 10, 2014 at 6:54 am | Permalink

    Gorgeously written, as always. It made me think about how limited language can be to express our feelings and empathies – to try to express to another person “I recognize this. I recognize you.” And it comes out perhaps not as we would like, but the heart, the feeling is there.
    Thanks for this.

  4. Posted September 10, 2014 at 8:58 am | Permalink

    Time is the black hole that my writing also swirls around. It weaves its way through all my writing and it is the topic that obsesses me.

    Nice post. Thank you.

  5. Posted September 10, 2014 at 8:59 am | Permalink

    So so beautiful. It’s an honor, my friend. xox

  6. Posted September 10, 2014 at 12:30 pm | Permalink

    Beautiful truth. As ever. xo

  7. Posted September 11, 2014 at 7:13 am | Permalink

    Ah, time. Though I’m not yet a parent, I received similar “Enjoy this, it goes so fast!” comments during my engagement last year. When I was worried about the family dynamics of the upcoming wedding, financial issues, moving out of my childhood home, making a new home with my husband . . . well, I didn’t really want to hear that, honestly. On more than one occasion, I remember thinking how grateful I was that it all did go fast because it was painful to let go of the old while forming something so new. It was such a transition.

    One year later, I recognize that for all the bitter in that time, there was absolutely so so so much sweet . . . and I’m so happy to be here, on the other side of it, that I can also offer that “Enjoy this!” narrative to newly-engaged ladies.

    If I’m so nostalgic now, I can only imagine how I’ll be as a mother. 🙂 But I hope to be as present and wonderful as you!

    Lovely post.

  8. Posted September 11, 2014 at 10:25 am | Permalink

    I’ve only recently noticed that time is a major theme in my writing as well. Thank you for speaking my language. I found myself nodding yes, yes, yes as I read.
    xLara

  9. Posted September 11, 2014 at 12:57 pm | Permalink

    “I believe that time, and attention, are the surest way to show love.”
    This. This just gets right to it for me. The times I am attentive and am able to be present, generous with my time with my children I see the difference in them, in me. Those times when I am impatient, stingy with my minutes, when I find myself hurrying them through those “in real time” depictions of bus rides and Kindergarten conversations, we both suffer for it. Hearts are bruised. This gorgeous quote is going on that board above my desk we’ve spoken of, my friend. xoxo

  10. Posted September 12, 2014 at 9:17 am | Permalink

    I loved this the first time I read it and I love it again. Thank you for being so honest. Yesterday I had the sweetest day with the boys but I was a little under the weather and exhausted and all I wanted was my bed.It was a constant struggle to be present because I wanted to tap out and yet I knew that this was a day for the memory banks. Oh these words today reached a deep place and I needed them! Thank you!!