I’m at the park, waving a tissue like a flag, running after a drippy-nosed toddler. I’m sweaty, fuzzy with exhaustion, and have a vague headache. My other toddler has left my field of vision, causing my heart to fling into spasms, even though the kid is probably just behind the next slide. I’ve had about two sips of the now lukewarm coffee in my travel mug. I’m longing for the moment I can return us all to our beds, and it is not even 9:00 a.m. yet.
Enter older, well-meaning, I’ve-been-there type person: “Ohhh, what a precious time! Enjoy every minute! It goes so fast!”
Social convention and my inner dialogue compete to see whether my response will be “I know, I am so blessed and grateful, thank you” OR “are you bleeping kidding me?” (I don’t swear a lot but the bleep in this case would so be a real one).
It took me awhile, but I finally reconciled with all the people who made that comment to me over the early-childhood years. (There were A LOT. So many, that I had to finally admit there was probably some truth to this ‘it goes so fast’ business). I honed my response, sans profanity, to be, “Yes, the years go fast, but each day can be so painfully long.”
Now I’m the slightly older one, and my kids wipe their own noses (for the most part). I’ve promised myself never to tell a haggard young mom to enjoy every minute, but I do see now, poignantly, what those sages were trying to warn me about.
For me, nothing shows the passing of time more succinctly than the book choices on my kids’ nightstands.
While I was finishing dinner dishes, Ferdinand somehow fluidly became The Magic Treehouse. Suddenly, Alexander’s bad day is seems really lame compared to Harry Potter’s time under the cupboard.
And now – blink- my daughter’s middle grade novels are slowly becoming covered in a fine layer of YA reads. In the time it took her to change from a one-piece bathing suit into a new sassy tankini, Anne of Green Gables has been one-upped by Bella from Twilight.
Lucky for me, I write for children. So instead of donating old books, I just move them to the shelves in my writing nook. Then stealthily, gleefully, when the kids have had a long day, I casually ask, “Do you guys want to snuggle in and hear me read Blueberries for Sal?”
For now, the answer is still yes.