In Rhode Island, the church we served at blessed us with an opportunity to live in a parsonage. They cleaned it up and remodeled it for us. It was the most charming house I’d ever seen. It was in a quiet neighborhood, at the end of a cul de sac, and just perfect for us. My favorite room in the house was the mud room. It was a step down from the kitchen. It had windows into the living room and kitchen and doors leading to both the front and the back of the house. One of the walls had the back of the fireplace, bricks lined up floor to ceiling. I claimed it. I put my desk in front of the large window that faced the front yard and driveway, and it’s where I wrote my short stories for my thesis.
During the long winters, I would take breaks from my writing and stare out the window, cursing the cold. I was anxious to see the sun and feel warm again. The cold took a toll on my body, and I spent a lot of time curled up on the couch in pain. I wished the winter away. I was impatient. I distinctly remember sitting at my desk one afternoon and getting a glimpse of the sun for the first time in months the first winter we spent in that house. I looked up from my computer and saw the outline of leaves on the paved driveway. There were specks of gold fluttering on the ground, and I jumped out of my seat and ran outside. Finally. It was all coming to an end. There was an end in sight. Spring was on its way. I spent the next few months taking breaks from my stories to take walks. I’d take my shoes off and walk up and down our driveway barefoot while Mike watered the vegetable garden nearby. But as the summers would start to end, and I’d see the first leaves change colors and fall to the ground, I would become eager to see the first snow. I’d wish the summer away. I’d hold onto the hope that soon enough, I’d see the first snowflake float from the sky and get lost in the strange and peaceful quiet the white blanket of snow would bring. I was always anxious for the next season, impatient with time.
Just yesterday I found myself rushing outside barefoot. I paced around the pool, enjoying the warmth permeating my feet. I guess it’s how I get my thoughts together long enough to get something decent down on paper. Long enough to hold onto the ounce of sanity I still have left. As a mom, I find myself being impatient with time and eager for the next season of life. I go back and forth between being content and savoring moments and wishing the time away. There are days I want to freeze time. I am more intentional. I ignore the dishes in the sink and the laundry that’s piling high. I spend a lot of time playing with my daughter. Then there are days I constantly check the time. I make sure to change her diaper just moments before 9 a.m. so she can be asleep and then up from her nap in time for a snack and take nap number two exactly at 1 p.m.. On those days, when I try to shove time along, it seems to linger. I try to fill our day to get to our 5:30 p.m. bath time faster. On those days, especially if she’s fussy, I even cheat a little and bathe her at 5:23 p.m., because, you know, it’s close enough. I check my watch while I’m nursing her and it’s 5:49 p.m. instead of 6:00 p.m., and I get a little anxious because we are a bit off our schedule.
But she has a way of shaking me out of my trance. She hides behind the couch and pops out with a huge smile, waiting for me to pay peekaboo. She grabs my face and gives me a dozen kisses. She smiles at me between bites of lunch.
And in those moments, time stands still.
I forget whether it’s time to nurse or time for her nap. I forget which game is best to develop her motor skills for her specific age. I stop thinking about the large cup of coffee I will consume during her nap. I stop yearning for quiet alone time. I simply revel. I soak up the love, the calm, the enjoyment of being with this little girl who is growing up fast.
I realize that I am indeed speeding up time. I’m doing it by filling my days with busyness, by checking my watch too often, by focusing on doing it all right and feeling guilty when I mess up. When it’s cold I long for the comfort of warmth, and when it’s warm I long for the magic of snow. But in the midst of motherhood, even on the hard days, I pause and remind myself that the one thing I should be longing for is the now, because it is where I will always be. The now is constant and present and tangible. The now is what matters because the attitude I permeate and the moments I cherish will create the memories I can hold onto later, when I realize this time as a mom of this young girl has moved into the past.