Time is a funny thing. It’s elusive and something we can’t hold onto but it is, without a doubt, the most valuable thing in the history of the world. As a parent, I’ve noticed the intricacies of this concept of time more than I’ve ever noticed before.
As a first time parent, I realized that time can be sooo…. sloooooow…..
As soon as I found out I was pregnant, I was beyond excited to share the news with everyone around me only to be told wait. Give it 12 weeks. Then share. That is excruciating, and we did the best we could. I found myself rubbing my belly that had yet to form. Initially, it looked like an overstuffed pillowcase or perhaps I’d eaten one too many hamburgers, but I could not wait for the swollen roundness that would come soon enough. I rubbed and I rubbed, and my husband laughed and laughed. I proudly pulled up my shirt in front of mirrors and pushed my stomach out to find that swollen look I wanted so badly. It seemed to take forever, and again, another example of time dragging along.
Then the last two months (okay, three) arrived. The pooch was definitely there (more like the watermelon). And time was even slower. Excitement to meet the baby and readiness to get back to the body I used to have (and never would again) were apparent, and time laughed at my expense by crawling on. It did not rush by, those moments of swollen feet, heavy breathing, too tight clothes that were just purchased, bending over only to strain to get back up, and never ending trips to the bathroom. It did not rush at all. In fact, it went about as fast as I was able to waddle around.
And if there is ever any doubt of how slow time can be, ask the woman in labor. I have less to complain about than others, given that my pushing lasted a solid 20 minutes for my first and 40 minutes for my second, but time crept it’s way through the hospital room as each contraction was felt and each push was demanded. Time took forever for me to hear that sweet sound that I had waited nine whole months to hear, and that sweet gurgly cry was so worth the wait. Time crept by as I waited to see this new human that I had felt kick and stretch and hiccup and cartwheel around. Time inched by as I waited to get bandaged up in order to hold, nurse, and love on this new gift that I didn’t realize I would love so much. And so quickly (ironically), all the moments before that cry disappeared and I didn’t remember the pain or the hurt or anything in fact before that moment, as cliche as it may sound.
Time continued to creep by slowly afterward too. Long nights of figuring out routines made for slow moments in time. Endless rocking, bouncing, singing, shushing, and giving up only to bring her into my bed…those were slow moments indeed. Along with days where the baby was not to be satisfied and mom was fit to be tied, time seemed to drag along at a snails pace. First night in the crib, first night without paci, and pottytraining were all moments of time taking it’s sweet time to pass in order for us to come out on the other side okay. Stroller days and diaper bag days seemed to last forever when the rushed working mom longed to be able to fly out the door in order to make the doctor appointment, the work meeting, the family social, church, or any event ever on time, but alas, the days dragged on. Oh, and long trips! They took forever too, and still do, given the “Are we there yet”, ‘I’m hungry”, “I have to potty”, and “Sssshh sissy!” groans that still exist, making a four hour GPSed trip to the beach or mountains last over six hours in reality. Talk about seconds that feel like minutes! Never had I ever realized the capability of time to go so slowly than in those moments.
Time can definitely be slow. But as a first time parent, I’ve also realized how truly fast time can go and I want nothing more than to stomp the brakes and make it stop just to hold on to the moments that I know I will never get back.
Nine months feels like a long time when you say it aloud. Nine months feels like a long time in the process, but in retrospect, nine months is a drop in the bucket when preparing for the biggest change that would impact the rest of our lives. Nine months flew by, full of baby showers, decorating, shopping, sleeping, waddling, and planning on top of planning for all the things to come that were new and exciting. Those nine months were packed full of appointment after appointment, researching, eating (truly the best part), and loving all of the newness that was surrounding us. Oh, those nine months may’ve felt like forever, but they are gone, and those days flew past, almost giving us whiplash as we were pushed forward through the vacuum of life.
From the water breaking to baby’s arrival, time sped along, making everything on those days a whirlwind. To relive every moment would be an ultimate dream. It’s so hard to concentrate on the changes around you and all of the happenings that are occurring when you are driven by contractions and pain, but for me, the time on those days went faster than I’ve ever experienced before. Suddenly, baby is here. SHE is here. A panic of “Now what” was uttered after my first, with a thankful sigh of relief after my second. Time, in it’s fastness, carried on, making those moments a memory to cherish.
And as I watch my baby girls grow and learn and develop, I realize the ultimate speed of time. I’m holding the baby, holding her for so long that my arms are numb and aching and sore and I can’t get comfortable to sleep, but now she’s crawling. I’m so proud of her for learning this new trick and I’m cheering for her, and smiling at her, and then I realize she’s walking. At the same time, I’m nursing her, and I’m pumping, and I’m stopping at any point in the day during our trips and errands and appointments and life to make sure she’s fed, and now she’s eating solids. Meanwhile I’m diapering her, and I’m making sure she’s dry and clean and changed as soon as I’m aware, and then she’s potty trained. I’m also changing her clothes, helping her with her onesies, her dresses, her shirts, her pants, and her shoes, and then she uses the words “I do Mommy. I do”. Time whipped by so fast that I don’t remember teaching her to talk. I know I did. I know time and effort were put into this skill as well, but by the time I snapped my fingers, she was uttering two to three word phrases. Assertive phrases, too.
She sleeps on her own. She outgrew her paci. She feeds herself. She dresses herself. She turns on the TV in the morning by herself. She goes to the potty herself. She colors by herself. Some books she can read to herself. She can count and name letters by herself. She goes down the slide by herself. She waves at strangers by herself. She listens and responds to others by herself. She apologizes after timeout (with a little coaching) by herself. And time keeps going by so fast. Time flies and before I realize the moments I’m saying goodbye to, they are gone. My last night of rocking my girls to sleep came and went without realization, and my arms that used to ache from holding their weight now ache to pull them back to me so that I can rock and rock and rock them through the night. That moment, and all of the other moments are gone, and they will never be relived except through blogging and moments of nostalgia. The baby-ness of my forever babies is fully gone. My toddlers are taking over now, and this stage is interesting. It’s fun and full of those fast and slow moments that consumed the baby years.
Becoming a parent has allowed me to see time with a different perspective. Never before has time had the potential to be so fast and so slow all at once. Each stage is precious, and I look forward to each one because I know there are many memories that are waiting for us. It hit me tonight as I kissed and hugged my two girls as they ventured out on their first overnight away from home that time is tricky and sly. Right when you think it’s going slow, it speeds past the bystanders without their knowledge of it. So many moments are made into memories so quickly. Treasuring each one is difficult, especially during the stages of timeouts and tantrums, but how sweet those moments are when arms wrap around your neck and the kisses fall on your face. Despite how fast or slow time decides to go, there will always be some things that never change.