a blink of time

When we were in high school, my sisters and I babysat for a wonderful family. Two families actually…brothers with kids. We loved them, still talk about them, and fight over their names for our kids. If more proof is needed, today – ten years later – I am writing a blog about them; last week, their mom wrote one about us.

See, recently I moved back to my hometown and found myself in need of a babysitter. And who would come to mind, of course, but my former kiddos – the two little girls that still in my mind have aqua glasses and gaps between their teeth and sleep with stuffed animals and nightlights on. It is cute, and ironic, and also disconcerting, that these girls can babysit my boys.
I don’t know why that would be so troubling. Kids grow up. Fast. It’s something since my very first public outing with a baby everyone from the Walmart cashier to the neighbors wistfully points out. “Oh, enjooooy these days. They will be grown before you know it, blah blah blah.” So I have no idea why the fact that the three little kids from Concord are in high school now is so riveting to my system. But it is.
See, if these kids are grown {practically} then it happened in a blink. Boom. They’re grown. And, if Jenn’s kids really and truly are done with playdough, and don’t play Candy Land, and don’t need you to pull up their pants with they’re done, why {gasp} MINE WILL BE TOO.

In a blink.

This is a theme for me. Yesterday – twice – I stumbled upon this quote.

“But the biggest mistake I made is the one that most of us make while doing this. I did not live in the moment enough. This is particularly clear now that the moment is gone, captured only in photographs. There is one picture of the three of them sitting in the grass on a quilt in the shadow of the swing set on a summer day, ages 6, 4 and 1. And I wish I could remember what we ate, and what we talked about, and how they sounded, and how they looked when they slept that night. I wish I had not been in such a hurry to get on to the next thing: dinner, bath, book, bed. I wish I had treasured the doing a little more and the getting it done a little less.”
~Anna Quindlen

This mom makes me sad. I’m sad her moment is gone forever, with the kids talking about nonsense on the grass. But mostly, I am sad because she is me, and I am busy configuring the router and planning the menu and chopping the onions. Too busy.

But I am a firstborn, and so, it’s not just weepy Hallmarkness that the marching of time evokes in me.

Also, I feel motivated. Frantic, really. Something akin to the last day of vacation, run-outside-before-the-rainbow-moves, turn-over-your-paper-and-start-your-essay feelings. There is so much to do, and so, obviously, little time. I don’t know if my Uncle Jerry coined the phrase or just made it famous to us: “Raising little kids is the shortest years and the longest days of your life.”

I sort of wish God had made parenting kids more spliced out in life. You know, a few months of good sleep here, a sabbatical year there. Which come to think of it, is probably why people love being grandparents so much. (Namely, that you have all the influence but get to go home and sleep all night in your own bed.) But parenting has no such privileges. It is all and not nothing. All all all. All day, all night, all energy, all the time.
I have so much I want to accomplish with these kids, and a few more I’d like to have. In my dreams I am part Pioneer Woman, part Ann Voskamp and these moms who have homeschooling blogs, and go on field trips, and learn spontaneous lessons about rock quartz in the backyard and read everything and go all over, adventuring.

But in real life…Right now, for instance, I have a headache. There are books all over, and they need to go on the shelf. If I don’t get a shower now, I won’t, and the cookie swap is tonight. And I’m so. so. so. TIRED.

See, mothering is like a marathon, sprinted. Yes. I am tired; that sounds about right. I have never run a marathon, but I’m pretty sure there’s not much time to do much else on the side. Sure, you do what you need to do – grab a banana, stretch a sore muscle, stop for a few words of encouragement to push through, and eventually the analogy breaks down, because I’m pretty sure there’s a glass of wine in there too once in a while. But irregardless, it is hard, and all you do for a while.

When I see my former clients soon, and they come to be MY mother’s helpers, I secretly hope they aren’t all grown-up looking. It would be easier to swallow if I pretend they are different kids from the two I colored pictures with. But no, I think it’s best that I remember.

And then I will look at mine, little and grubby and needing things, and I will try to stay focused, and motivated, and caffeinated, and organized, for this raising children stage.

Because hard as it is, it is a blink.

God, grant me enough sleep to do this job. Give me just enough breaks to be refreshed, but not enough to lose my focus. Grant me creativity, especially at 4:30 in the afternoon. Help us learn as much as we can about the big wide world, for you made it. Oh, and thank you.

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2 thoughts on “a blink of time

  1. My friend, Christy Truitt asked me to post this to your blog. (tech issues on her end) My good friend Jenn Fromke led me to your blog today…or maybe it was God's divinity. You see, my 12 year old son asked me this morning to check him out of school early today. His reason to spend more time with me. Yeah, uh huh. My mind went to every reason why I couldn't fulfill his request. Now I understand why I should. Bless you.

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