Time: the Great Mindfuck of Motherhood

The entire floor of the house is covered. I sit trapped among train tracks, pattern blocks, matchbox cars, and couch pillows. To my right, the fireplace is surrounded by baby toys and books. To my left, the play area is vomiting stuffed animals, legos, books, blocks, capes and masks. Every single toy is out.

I close my eyes and take a deep breath to keep from screaming; when I open them I see again the happiness in the busy mess.

It’s hard not to feel like I have spent my whole life, and will spend the rest of my days, sitting on the floor playing with kids and toys. I’ll admit it: there are moments when I get bored, restless, irritated, and preoccupied with other things to do.

The second the words form in my thoughts I grow dizzy, knowing this will become a memory. It is all slipping past and I will long for this time when they have left the toys, the floor, the house. When they have left me.

Right now is such a fleeting moment in their long lives (and in mine), even though it occasionally feels tedious and endless.

Time never moves at the right speed. I try not to think about it too hard: how much I want some moments to end, even while I mourn for their passing.

I used to be comfortable with the passing of time. I loved to soak into memories (sometimes lingering too long). I anticipated the near and distant futures (with borderline obsession to details and scheduling). I loved the moments of now (mostly). I used to be able to appreciate it all, the natural procession of time.

Motherhood has fucked that all up, though, big time. Now it never passes in a way that makes any sense.

These days, Owen is talking in full sentences and exploding with new vocabulary every day. He runs around the playground like he owns it, exploring and climbing alongside the big kids. I want to write down everything, record all of him, and hold onto each moment of newness. It overwhelms (and relieves) me to know I couldn’t possibly if I tried.

Yet, when he bites me so hard it leaves a mark for days, when he throws an epic tantrum over not going on a train trip RIGHT NOW at 7 pm, or when he whines every time he opens his mouth … I count down the minutes until the end of the day. Until this phase passes.

Addie’s toddler voice is changing, along with her toddler face and body and mannerisms. I long for more of her as an 8 month old, snuggling and laughing, playing with the discovery baskets I made her, learning to eat (with no teeth for months to come). I want more of her stoic, inquisitive, baby eyes. More of her sunshine upon entering a room (in my arms).

Then I see her at the playground with her friends, I watch her focus on a puzzle, or I praise her for asking to be excused from the table before clearing her dishes and washing her hands … and I swell with pride at her big kids ways. I wonder what she will be like a year from now.

Time is the great mindfuck of motherhood. I can’t think about it too hard, how it never has the right tempo, or I go down a rabbit hole of discontent.

So I keep sitting on the floor with them, the minutes going by too slowly and then too fast, getting lost in the work of play. I try not to worry about cherishing every single moment. I try to commit some of them to memory. I let go of the good and bad that slip away and brace myself for more.

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