Sometimes, I look at the painted flowers on my daughter’s bedroom wall and feel the world ending.
One day, those flowers will be a memory and the very thought of the end of all this makes me want to stomp my feet and cry. I don’t want things to change! I don’t want her to grow up and go to college and meet a boy and get married and move to another state. Or house.
Sometimes, I look at my 12-year old son’s soft cheeks and his freckled nose and his green eyes and want the whole world to stop. I want to hold his face and touch each freckle but if I did he’d roll his eyes, jerk from my hands and think I’d gone crazy.
Can’t we just take a time out? Can we pause on twelve for a few more years? I don’t want him to grow whiskers and fall in love with girls and choose a career path and stop laughing at things that aren’t funny unless you’re twelve.
I spy the distant Mt. Rainier in its white-covered glory and I feel frantic. We haven’t sojourned to the mountain in two years. What if that time was the last time we’d stomp its snowy sides? What if we don’t venture back up the mountain? Will the kids even remember the delicate alpine flowers and the pure thin air?
Just moments ago, my teenagers were little kids, wandering the back yard waving sticks and throwing balls over the roof of the house to the front yard. They refused to eat vegetables and only drank apple juice. Those mundane days already glow in the fading hazy light of memory. The past seems sweet compared to the reality of uneven facial hair and loud music and their uniform of black t-shirts and baggy jeans.
I hate my kitchen counters. They’re old, pale yellow formica. I don’t have enough cupboard space. The sink is a ghastly gold. And yet, sometimes I’m already nostalgic for it. When I’m an old woman and I think about raising kids, this is the kitchen that I will remember. This homely, inadequate kitchen is like a friend I miss already, even while we’re still holding hands.
Sometimes, I just want to press the pause button. I want to appreciate this moment, to breathe it in, to gather it all in my arms and sit and rock, rock, rock in a peaceful rhythm before it all scatters, never to be assembled again in quite the same way.
But there is no pause button. The children won’t stop growing. I keep getting older and grayer.
The whole thing, when I consider it, makes my heart hurt.
Nothing stays the same and there’s a peculiar pain in noticing the fleeting days for what they are–a vapor, here today and gone tomorrow.