Present tense

Christmas is three weeks from Friday.

I’d like to order an extra week, please.  And also, an elf who likes to decorate and bake cookies and wrap gifts.

How is it possible that Christmas takes so long to arrive when you are seven years old, yet it circles around in a flash when you are forty-four?  Time is a sneaky thing, never staying steady, forever hypnotizing and making me dizzy.

I still have a lingering pumpkin on my front porch.

At the moment, I know a bunch of pregnant women, some who also have little ones.  When I see them, I remember.

I remember those long days with toys scattered on the living room floor, when the days were segmented by naptime and playtime and lunchtime and cleaning up one mess after the next.  I remember watching children’s television with a toddler on my lap, trying in vain to read a magazine at the same time. I remember holding my pregnant belly with both hands so I could better feel the rolling and squirming baby inside.  I remember longing for something else, for a day or a week or a month to pass without wiping a nose or changing a diaper or mollifying a crazed toddler.

And now I don’t wipe noses or change diapers or mollify toddlers.  My life is arranged around carpool and school and a work schedule and fixing dinner.  I can leave all the children at home alone and it’s not illegal.  I can read a whole magazine cover-to-cover without a little one trying to eat the pages.   I don’t have to cut anyone’s food into tiny bits.

Life is different now.

And I want to plead with those women I see with their pregnant bellies and their backseats full of carseats . . . I want to beg them to enjoy these days, to embrace every moment and to take more pictures.  Memorize the strange sensation of a human being somersaulting in your interior.  Sit down with the little guys and ignore the dust because the dust won’t go anywhere and before you know it the little guy will have his own Facebook account and will have to shave.  No one will want to watch “Sesame Street” anymore and you’ll miss Grover and knowing that naptime would follow lunchtime as surely as summer follows spring.

Life will no longer be contained between the four walls of your house–or the walls of your uterus.  Everything gets impossible to contain and time speeds up and before you know it, you’re nostalgic about the Terrible Twos.  (In other words, you lose your memory.)

I supposed my 102-year old Grandma would have told me something similar . . . to embrace these years while the children are still home, drinking a whole quart of apple juice in one night and leaving their dishes in the family room and teasing each other until someone cries . . . because one day, they’ll be gone and I’ll be sentimental about the times that drive me a little nuts right now.

I know it’s true.

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Present tense

13 thoughts on “Present tense

  1. Call ME old, or sentimental, and I doubt I’ll ever be 102, but I remember…..and I weep.

    As I take a Christmas decoration out of it’s storage bin, I examine it and remember when it was new. Life was hectic then; little voices were yelling; little fingers reached to help; fights broke out between sisters and brother. And yet, the hugs at day’s end made it all okay; gave me reason to look forward to a fresh day, and the little drawings and notes in a childish scrawl found a place in my “forever-to-be-cherished notebook”.

    Broken ornaments; yellowed notes; a few black and white photographs; memories of days forever gone haunt me now. My days – and evenings – are silent. If there are dishes to be picked up, it’s because I didn’t put them away. When grown children ask “Mom, what do you want for Christmas?” I reply: “I have everything I need, for I have good memories.” And yet, I weep, remembering the days long gone.

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  2. Thanks for the reminder. My kids are 2 and 4 and some days I really can’t wait for them to be older so I can have just a moment to myself. (I’m typing this with a 2 year old sitting on my lap while he cries for candy, even though I’ve already told him no 73 times today.)

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  3. The days crawl, but the years fly. Mine are 5 and 8 and we have a set bedtime routine every night, which requires my presence for every single second. Sometimes I long for the day when I won’t have to be the one orchestrating the entire event, and yet I know when that day comes, I’ll miss these.

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  4. Don’t tell ANYONE, but I absolutely LOVE having adult children.

    I did love it when they were little, but I was too exhausted and emotionally spent and under the impression that if I wasn’t insanely busy at my church and kid’s school I was somehow failing.

    There are some things now that I ‘get’ and one of those things is that from the time I became pregnant with a child all the way until I die I will be that child’s mother. I might as well learn to enjoy and cherish EVERY minute, because my feelings for that child only increase as time flies by.

    And, there may be grandchildren, which are the frosting on the cake of having children.

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  5. I can understand why you are a writer…well said, you took the words right out of my mouth! I feel the exact same as I am now 45 and wonder where all the time went. I have 4 children and 2 of them moved out in October. Everything is so different now and I tend to be looking back and remembering the “good old days”.

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  6. Kelly says:

    Oh that made me tear up!!! I have 4 kids, 10 and under and I am 6 months pregnant with number 5. (and I turn 41 on Monday). You describe it perfectly, the waiting for the next part of the day. But I also know that I will always wish I paid more attention, took more pictures, etc. I worry that I am shortchanging them all in some way by not being a more ‘together’ mom. There is just so much to do. It is all flying by so fast. I want more time!

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  7. Ouida Gabriel says:

    Today is the 18th birthday of my daughter who was born too soon and went on to be with our LORD. While I think that many have forgotten about her, her brief time on earth taught me a lot about embracing the moment in motherhood. Even when I feel despair in being a parent I remember that some day one of us won’t be here. I want to live in the moment while I can.

    Happy Birthday Gabrielle Angel. Not a day goes by……

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