I can scarcely believe it's halfway through March already. Life is such a blur of activity these days -- even as we've slowed down the last few weekends due to illness, it just feels like the rush never ends. Alden turns two this month. It feels like he's always been here, but also like he just arrived.
I lost a good friend to cancer this last month. She has a five year old. I can't even hold that thought in my head. It just takes the wind out of me. For her, life has stopped and the life of her child goes on -- and somehow, that little girl has to navigate that void without the mother who held her so close and loved her so fiercely and fought so hard to stay.
The thought of it has stopped me in my tracks this last week. I rush from activity to activity, corralling the kids and urging them to get ready faster to move faster to get to the next thing... and, then, I just stop. It can all just stop in a moment. Slowing down is as important as hurrying up. Grabbing these fleeting moments with my kids is as important as getting to the next activity. I think of her and remind myself that these moments, every one of them, are so precious.
I was lying next to Alden in his bed last night, willing him to fall asleep so I could escape his room and clean the dishes, and gather the clutter, and get Kailey to bed, and get to bed myself... the next thing, the next thing. And then I stopped. I thought of Fiza and all the moments that have been stolen from her. I embraced the moment, sniffing Alden's head and taking in his sweet smell while he gently rubbed my face and tucked his head under my chin.
I wish I could will life to slow down. I wish I could have done that for Fiza. Forced life into slow motion so that we could all just have these moments for eternity. Or, at a minimum, for a bit longer.
I've already plotted out our summer -- which makes me feel like it will be September in an instant. And Kai will be 8 and in the 3rd grade. And Alden be 2 and starting preschool. And I'll be 40. The drumbeat of time goes on.
I'm not complaining. The alternative - the stopping - that's what I fear. This march forward is wonderful. It's just fast. It's so fast.
That's the thing -- it's not regret that I'm feeling. I love my children with a force I could never have imagined before having them. But, that love - that overwhelming love -- comes with the reality that my life is not mine anymore. I think in some ways, there's a mourning that comes from that. Or, a longing for a time when I had the space to act for myself and myself alone. My time scarcely belongs to me anymore. Not even in the quietest hours of the night when I try to roll over and get a moment of solace... not even then, because no sooner have I rolled then I hear that little squawk of the toddler sleeping next to me, protesting my attempt to steal a moment to myself during the darkest stretch of night, reaching his little hand over to grab me, to roll me back towards him, as he insistently tucks his head back under my chin and pats my face once more.
My working hours are also divided between making time for scheduling camps, doctors appointments, rushing off to school assemblies, visiting preschools, following up with preschools, trying to get in that quick errand that will be so much faster if I do it by stealing 30 minutes from work rather than the hour it will take with a kid or two in two.
There are no breaks anymore. Almost no time for conversation or reflection. I see this with all my friends of young children. Our conversations are divided. Usually we are talking while watching our children, one ear on the conversation, one year listening for an injury or cry or impending disaster or argument. But, even in those rare moments when we are alone, are thoughts are divided between the conversation and the endless list of items that must be attended to -- so much more than just the things required by work. My work list, while long and overwhelming, is rarely the thing that distracts me anymore. That, I can compartmentalize. That, I'm good at.
Even as I sit here, typing these words, I'm thinking of the bill language I should be drafting, the doctor appointment still to be scheduled, the taxes to be paid. I can scarcely afford to steal the time necessary to write this blog.
But this last month, when these stresses threaten to overwhelm me and the work of it all tests my patience -- I have tried to stop myself. To embrace the chaos. Because these moments will never come again. The pace of life will eventually slow again. And, if I'm lucky, I'll get to experience that natural slowing. My fear is a dead stop. What happened to Fiza is so unfair. She was in the middle of it. At the height of the chaos. It wasn't a natural stopping place -- it was the middle. The middle that is hard to embrace because it's the middle -- but in many ways, it's the best part. Fiza knew that. In the year between her diagnosis and her death, she made the most of every precious second she had as she fought to extend those moments as much as possible. It's such an important lesson because no one knows what the next day will bring.
But all of this is really of little comfort. Because, the hard reality is, now, she's gone. And I'm beyond sad. I feel guilty for resenting the constant demands on my time and person -- because I'm so lucky that I get to have this time. This time in the middle of the chaos and the storm when life is at it's busiest and most intense. It's the most precious of time.
And, I know, that if I'm lucky, I'll get to experience a slowing of the march. I'll regain my solitude and likely miss this chaos once it is gone. No little hands gripping and groping for me during the night. No "mamas" shouted out needing something, whatever it is, in the most urgent timeframe possible.
If I'm lucky, I'll regain that time and get to see my kids grow and change and become independent. I hope I get that, and I feel guilty for hoping for it since my dear friend has had that opportunity stolen from her.