Friday, 7 February 2014

Time After Time

The other day, at about 6 am, I heard my eldest child crying in her room. When I went in to see what was wrong, she sobbed, "I want a hug and a kiss!" (our standard nighttime routine). She was completely convinced that she was just going to bed, although she'd actually been asleep for a good 10 hours.

That's how it is for kids: time has no meaning except for the rules and routines we apply to it. They live entirely in the present, while adults spend most of their time dwelling on the past or anticipating the future.

Since my mother died, I've spent a lot of time thinking about, well, time. When I look back, I have this feeling that I didn't maximize my time with her. I never asked her how she felt emotionally...what she thought lay in store for her "after" or if she was afraid. We never got to have a final conversation like the ones you see in the movies—where all issues are resolved with a loving embrace and a teary goodbye—since she was completely lucid one day and near-comatose the next.

That said, we all knew she was sick, and we had two years to have that conversation. So why didn't we? Denial surely played a role. I was many ways, it was just easier to focus on my somewhat demanding life, with a move to a new home, a challenging two-year-old and an exhausting pregnancy. But the other reason is simple: I thought we had time.

When you have children, time becomes more elastic and flexible than you ever thought possible. Those early newborn days can stretch into one seemingly endless night, where the hours have no meaning...yet somehow, overnight, my three-year-old's pants are too short and her wrists are dangling from the ends of her sleeves. In a heartbeat, my one-year-old became too big to lie across my lap when I rock her to sleep.

Time: we're always seeking more of it, yet we recklessly squander it. We don't always appreciate it—but when it's gone, we mourn its loss. And if we blink, we miss it: the brief, unremarkable moments that make life worthwhile.

As hard as it is sometimes, I will try to give my children more of my time...because no one knows how much time we really have. But when it comes to showing them how much I love them—how fully they own my heart—it's never too late.

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