Hurry up and wait
Because of their age difference, my kids will never ride in the same school bus. Admittedly, this makes me a bit sad. My daughter would be great at taking her little brother’s hand and showing him the ropes.
When we planned for a second child, our school district’s eligibility guidelines briefly factored into the equation: summer babies, at least those born before the kindergarten deadline, equal thousands in saved daycare expenses. Of course, if life has taught us anything at all, it’s that unpredictability is often the only reliable constant. We overshot our wishful, budget-friendly deadline by a few months and one school year.
When time was a luxury… and missed opportunity
When my daughter was a toddler, time was a luxury, albeit an onerous one at times. My early bird would be ready to go at 6am. Our only structure on most weekends was breakfast, “one more cup of coffee for mommy,” and an early walk. Then we played, and played, went to the grocery store and played again.
When you work full time, you don’t always question the rationale of combing a pink pony’s glittery mane or hastily retrieving a Littlest Pet Shop’s head, which had popped off for the tenth time and rolled out of sight; instead, you try to enjoy the moment. Then you daydream about more structure, and somehow, once you are on your second cup of coffee, you have missed the moment.
It’s one of those inevitable things. We love our guys so much, but we plan, and rush, and prepare, and list and move on and on.
“Let’s watch a movie this afternoon.”
“Tomorrow we are going to the museum.”
“Next week is your play date with Alex!”
“Oma is coming to visit in five months!”
Before you know it, the little pony in your hand is just a prop to move you to the next act.
And for my next act…
I’d love to be more Bohemian and snap out of the “what’s next?” mode, but it’s hard. Fast forward a few years, and my son is counting down the days until he turns four. He really has no discernible concept of time, so “sleep ten more nights” is as solid a birthday countdown for him as “it’ll happen within this millennium.”
A while ago, I told him, “After Christmas comes your birthday!” Instead of taking in the season and baking some cookies for good measure, I had once again skipped ahead to the next thing on the horizon. Did the five remaining hours until bedtime really require a future point of reference?
Truth be told, there’s little structure in this onward rush and “what’s next?” mantra.
It’s easy enough to see why we follow this self-imposed rush: in summer, retailers remind us to purchase new backpacks long before the beach towels have dried; the beginning of the school year is accompanied by a burgeoning Halloween catalog assortment; orange and black decorations quickly give way to green and red ones as we skip Thanksgiving in lieu of Christmas layaway.
Miffed about the lack of real snow this season? Don’t despair. Easter is a hop, skip, and Valentine candy box away from spring anyway.
Wait, steep, and enjoy
Admittedly, January is a bit of a downer where we welcome the thought of having another event on the horizon. All that changed when we had a January baby. Now I try to make time go by a bit slower before my little guy gets any bigger. I love every single milestone and birthday, of course, but I don’t want to rush toward those moments either. Why the rush? For the same reason we download snazzy couscous recipes and end up making Hamburger Helper for dinner. We are always busy and on the move.
Enjoying life’s special moments like a good cup of tea often seems like a luxury we forget to afford ourselves.
While I can’t promise to do better, I will certainly try. Many parenting moments are inevitably dull, of course. But the sum total of these events makes up our memory of their childhood. And that’s something worth celebrating — one moment at a time.
Marion Kase is a Berks County, PA mom of two. This post was adopted from her blog, Helicopter-Caterpillar.