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 self-centred...in 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
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.