"I am kind of sad Noah is a baby TODDLER now. I kind of like normal babies better. I wish I could keep him a baby forever, but he keeps growing."
Daniel made this observation as we watched little Noah toddle around the backyard this morning, arms out like a teeny Frankenstein, a joyful laugh as he navigated bumps in the landscape without a fall. He's growing so fast, as observed by my also growing-so-fast five year old whom we jokingly call "Great Dane-iel" when he tries to crawl into bed or onto a lap to cuddle.
And tomorrow, my baby boy, Phil, turns seven.
My firstborn son, who changed my whole heart and my life forever with his entrance into the world, will be in big-kid land, the so-called "age of reason." I feel nostalgic, of course, but also I have to admit I feel a little teeny bit robbed. People bring it up as a conversation filler, "oh, yes, time goes so fast. . .blah-dee-blah. . .wow. . .he has grown. . .yada, yada" and as I nod and smile and agree my heart cries out, "SERIOUSLY!!! YOU ARE NOT KIDDING!! WTF, TIME, WHERE DID YOU GOOOOO!!?????"
Since it is not really socially appropriate I don't normally say that part aloud, but I am totally confused by the passage of time. I can't help but feel like someone deceived me. Time seems to be slipping away faster and faster as the days go by. A cruel trick like this can only have one man behind it. . .Stefano Demira.
Just kidding. But seriously. Who is stealing the Days of our Lives? TIIIIIIME??? WHY YOU PUNISH MEEEEEEE????
On one side I am bombarded by well meaning grocery store shoppers informing me to "enjoy this time, it goes so quickly" and self-help articles about "how to maximize your time" and a facebook feed full of sentimental blog posts about "oh, how precious it is!!"
OH MY GOODNESS, how I know!! My eyes fill with tears and I nod my head and I agree with every word spoken about time. Yet all the while as I try to grasp it, it slips all the faster through my hands.
Since the birth of baby Noah, it has only accelerated, pushing me into wistful tear-up mommy mode on a regular basis. While days home on maternity leave with newborn Philip seemed to go on forever, I would feel as though I had just gotten Noah up from his nap and enjoyed merely a moment before it was time to set him down again. When we got out the Christmas decorations last year, I had the strangest feeling like I had just put them away. This is not me trying to be cute- NO, SERIOUSLY. I had a freaky and off-putting moment, like, I just packed these, why am I getting them back out???? The last two weeks of kindergarten crept up on me so quickly and quietly that I had no idea they were coming until they were RIGHT there, staring me in the face, mocking my unchecked list of imagined adventures for our year. Nails and hair are trimmed and grow again the moment they are cut, pants creep up above ankles that are no longer chubby, teeth fall and out and come right back in. Faces change unnoticed until an old photo reminds you of the squishy cheeks, strings of drool, and wispy little curls that once graced them.
Of course, my boys are so beyond thrilled about growing. My heart aches, and simultaneously bursts with pride as I witness it. It's a joy that has a twinge of pain, that pain that comes any time we are involved in letting go. Josh pumps himself on the swing and catches right up to his brothers, Noah bursts with joy as he climbs to the top of the playset, Daniel and Philip check out books on their own library cards and read to the younger boys. My days are filled with, "Mommy, Look! Look at me! Look what I can do now!"
Yet the look-at-me days that seemed so luxurious in my own childhood go by in a blur. Most of my want-to's end up getting replaced by have-to's. . .my perfectionist tendencies draw me from the idyllic parenthood I hold in my mind. . .probably crafted for me by a Country Time Lemonade or Cheerios commercial years ago. It seems that despite my best intentions, in the march of time I only manage to grab moments. A glimpse of sun dancing in the backyard, a lullaby, a tender moment between two of my sons. But, perhaps, that's why lemonade and cereal commercials are only 30 seconds in the first place, and that's really all I need. I go back over and over to Glennon's "Don't Carpe Diem" post, which reminds me very much of one of my spiritual heroes, Henri Nouwen. All in the fullness of time.
"But sometimes we experience the fullness of time. That is when it seems that time stands still, that past, present, and future become one; that everything is present where we are; and that God, we, and all that is have come together in total unity. This is the experience of God's time.
It is in the fullness of time that we meet God." - Henri Nouwen
Real time may slip by too quickly, but I will relish the moments where time stands still. Where I meet God, and for just a moment, I get to hold Him as the clock slows. He's cuddled in my arms as tears are wiped away, loving words are spoken into a mess of sweet blonde hair. That moment is savored before we part ways and I go back to my dishes and He to His Legos.
My Philip too, was lamenting how quickly our time with Noah has gone just a few weeks ago. "I wish we could just keep Noah a baby forever. Then we could always have a baby. I just love babies."
I nodded my head in agreement, imagining how much I also wanted to keep Philip little, too. Before I could speak, he went on. . .
"But, you know, some other babies might come into our lives, and we can enjoy them. And someday (he gets a twinkle in his eye) WE will have babies, and then you will be a Nana!!" (twinkle turns to giant grin and we are both giggling. . .)