I am sitting at my dining table and when I look over the top of my computer, I can see my beautiful boy in his beloved bouncy chair. Behind him, the big sliding glass door is letting in the light of this glorious Florida morning through our screened-in lanai. Wait, what? Florida? Oh that’s right. We have completely uprooted and packed up our entire lives, bid teary farewells to friends and family, driven 1500 miles, spent every dime we had, and landed soundly (and happily!) in the shade of the hundred or so palm trees that dot the property of our new apartment complex. All that in just over two months.
On June 19th, my husband was offered a position at a local university. He has been out of academia for over a year, working a retail job to make ends meet. It was the very best retail job out there, and it acted as a lifeboat when stormy seas sank the ship in which our little family was navigating life. (Thank you, Fruit Stand. You saved us.) Ten days later, we were down in Florida looking for a place to live. Three weeks after that, we had movers booked. A week after that, the house was packed up. And six days after that, we pulled up to our new home. Time is the only thing I know that moves faster the fuller it is. If these past two months’ Time were a person, it would still be laying on the couch with its pants undone wishing it had passed on seconds, let alone thirds.
Something else wonderful happened in these crazy two months. My boy turned a corner. He’s figured himself out or his synapses have started firing correctly or the planets aligned or something, because starting at five months old, I’ve caught myself actually enjoying his company. I can’t properly express the gratitude and relief I felt the first time I realized I was enjoying my son and not just coping with him. Since my boy was born, I have struggled with the vast difference in what I thought the experience was going to feel like and what it actually does feel like. I have been dumfounded at every turn to find that the experience of raising a child simply cannot be predicted or, it seems, accurately described (although there are many, including myself, obviously, who try.) Over the course of my life, I have heard hundreds of times, “Kids grow up too fast!” or “Stop the clock! I want to slow down time.” or “I can’t believe it’s been six months! It seems like just yesterday that he was born!” I imagined I would feel the same way because I thought that’s just how parents feel.
Well, it isn’t how I feel. My boy is six months old and I feel every single second of that six months. It doesn’t seem like yesterday that he was born. It seems like a lifetime ago. These six months have been the most intense and challenging of my life and while I would never wish them away, I certainly don’t wish to go back and live them all again, and I especially don’t want time to slow down. I am endlessly proud of my boy and the growing, learning, exploring, discovering, and facemushing that he’s done. (Oh, god, the facemushing. My fave!) I am also endlessly proud of myself and my husband. Not only for not having sold our precious little asshat to the gypsies like we swore we would, but also because we have upheld our promise to not take our frustrations out on each other. We take care of us and our relationship first, so we can be a stronger parenting team for our boy. (That’s the Oxygen Mask Theory at work!) I celebrate my boy, my motherhood, and all of our accomplishments and milestones not in wishing we could stay in this moment, but in wondering and looking forward to what else is in store.
Things are finally getting better (like everyone promised!) and I want to keep heading towards better rather than sit still in “not awful anymore.” This is not to say that I don’t enjoy the present. Even in the Dark Days, there were moments of glory that I savored like a hard candy. In fact, those moments might have tasted sweeter given the terrible darkness that oozed around them. I appreciate those moments, take pictures, make mental notes, share and brag and herald and celebrate, but I don’t wish for Time to stop so I can stay in them. Surely, there are moments like them and better ahead.
Maybe life is like a set of monkey bars. I would be missing the point (and ruining Recess) if I just hung on one bar. I’ll keep moving, swing forward, and trust that when I grasp a new moment, it will be one that will lift me up. Or, I’ll come crashing down and skin both knees and swear I’ll never get on those stupid monkey bars again.
At least, not until some Time has passed.