Friday, September 18, 2009

Stopping Time

Some days call for a bit of quiet. Some days call for a time when all the noise and activity around me falls still and I am left with a minute to look around me and see what is left behind.

My children have a book called The Boy Who Stopped Time. In the story, the boy does not want to go to bed and so he reaches into a clock and stops the pendulum from swinging and then everything around freezes, except the boy. He wanders through his house, his town, examining everything in great detail and eventually returns home desperate for life to move and live and breathe again. He starts the clock and is happy to go off to bed. The story has great draw for my kids... the idea of halting time and landing a later bedtime is a dream come true! I like the book as well... though for very different reasons.

Over the past few weeks, my life has changed dramatically. The end of summer always brings a different rhythm. But this year, the end of summer brought far more than a schedule adjustment. This year, when school started, my life as a mother to my four little ones changed completely. For nearly 13 years, I have spent almost every day with someone by my side. I have had a child on my lap, following behind me, knocking at the bathroom door, for well over a decade. I don't say that as complaint. It was a choice. It was a choice to be here, loving on them, reading to them, disciplining them, snuggling them for all these many years. But, a couple of weeks ago, every, single one of my children strapped on a backpack and headed off to school.

I am not sure how to process all of that. I am so right-in-the-middle of it all that I have struggled to find words to share with all of you. Normally, I try to blog about what I know. What I see. But this... this I do NOT know. And what I see is the backs of my sweet babies as they head on into school. The sight is both wonderful and exciting and deeply sad. Not for them you see... but for me.

Is the sadness from the missing? Maybe so... But in another way, the weight of it comes from the marking of the end of one well-loved season. The end of hands-on, all-day mothering. The end of the constant companionship of a little growing person discovering it all in front of me. The end of having really little ones. The end of what I have known and loved for almost 13 years.

Know this... the sadness is okay. I am not crushed. I am not overwhelmed. I have, instead, made space in my life for reflection during this strange time of adjustment. And making that space has been helpful to me... and leads me to a whole new appreciation of the book The Boy Who Stopped Time.

Sometimes, as mommas, we need to find a way to catch our breath, find some quiet and take a look around. Claiming those seconds to step back and really SEE gives us images to recall when the life we are living is chaotic or filled with change. In my head, I see these images today and in them, I gain comfort and perspective.

I see:

Noah at 15 months holding tightly to the wall, looking at the couch. Suddenly, he releases his grasp and heads 3 steps to the couch... and learns to walk.

Benjamin at two, pushing a red, plastic chair into the center of the living room. I watch as he climbs onto the top of it, carefully placing his feet on the outer edges of the seat. He lifts his left foot and the chair begins to tip. Quickly he slams his foot back down, rights himself and laughs out loud at the thrill of ALMOST falling.

Josiah at 4 months, cuddled in my arms. He has just finished nursing and is gazing and cooing up at me. His blond hair is all fuzz standing straight up on end and his grin is fully toothless. I remember clearly thinking, "I am happy."

Elizabeth, almost one, sitting on the living room floor. We had been home from China roughly two hours. The boys burst into the house and all my children saw each other for the very first time. Within 5 minutes, they were all laying on the floor cracking each other up. Our family was complete.

Over the past several weeks, I have flipped through images of stopped-time again and again. I have looked at them in great detail and have revelled in the fullness and richness of our shared life. I have been reminded of the importance of the ordinary... the memories we make in our day-to-day life... and how they live longer and in brighter color because they are repeated again and again. And I have come to see that all that is important is not in the past.

This week, I see:

Noah, at twelve and a half, running down the soccer field, dressed in a school uniform. He looks at me, smiles wide, and the sun gleams off the braces on his teeth.

Benjamin, nearly 11, making a face at his little brother during dinner and both of them erupting into giggles that fill the dining room and spread quickly to their siblings.

Josiah, newly 7, making a list of the books he has read this week to turn into his teacher at school. The list is then put carefully into a folder and added to his backpack and he smiles to himself at his preparedness.

Elizabeth, five-years-old, gathering snacks to put in her Kai-Lan lunch box, relishing the organization of it all and the deep feeling of inclusion she feels in finally being old enough to actually go to school.

Stopping time is good. But, I don't want to live in a place where all those images remain stopped. I loved those moments. I loved my babies as babies, as toddlers, as preschoolers and I love them now. I soaked up those minutes and I expect to do nothing less in this new season of life. It looks different. It feels different. It really IS different. But memories are being made in real time today. My children are running and smiling and laughing and we have things to store up right now. This new season of parenting may be unfamiliar but this too, is good.

Today, I will let the clock run but make time and find energy to let myself see this in all it's wonder. The endless job of parenting marches on and I don't want to miss a thing.

Blessings on your day.

1 comment:

3timesamom said...

Your post brought tears to my eyes! As I sit and read this I can't help but think back on my 2 boys who are 11 and 8. They grow up so quickly, as toddlers I couldn't even imagine them being the ages they are today. This year we sent our oldest son to Middle School. It seems like only yesterday I was walking him down the kindergarten hallway at school! I still have a 3 year old daughter at home, and your blog has reminded me to cherish the moments with her, the sometimes constantly interrupted days (like today) when I long for a few minutes to myself, I need to stop and remember that in a very short time, I too will be where you are today, all my babies at school and reflecting on days gone by! Thank you for your memories, and gentle reminders.