By TMoM Team Member Ellen Bryant Lloyd
Time. For as long as I can remember, I have had an issue with time. Maybe you do as well. It passes too quickly or too slowly. I don’t have enough of it or wish it wouldn’t end. Vacations fly by, children grow up in the blink of an eye, and visits with friends end too soon. Or time creeps along while awaiting news of a baby’s arrival or the day of a special celebration or event. And don’t even get me started on “losing” or “gaining” time while traveling long distances through several time zones.
From the day each of my children was born, I have documented every special day, event, and holiday with them in photos. My son has often commented, jokingly, that his life has definitely been well documented. I cannot disagree!
One year, as my children posed for their annual first day of school photos in front of our fireplace, I noticed something — I could not see the clock on our mantel behind them. Memories flooded my mind of the many years prior when I took the same “first day” photos in front of our fireplace. The clock was always completely visible, and their two perfectly coiffed heads topped out significantly lower than the mantel. Not this year. Their bodies were now long and lanky and their faces were no longer those of young children. It honestly took a lot of resolve to hold back a river of tears at that moment. While my head knew my children were growing up, my heart did not want to accept the fact they were as grown as they were. Time must have sped up without me realizing. I longed for time to slow down.
As I scrolled through Facebook that evening, I enjoyed seeing all the first day of school photos. Often, parents commented about the swift passage of time. Some friends even posted first day of preschool or kindergarten photos alongside photos of their big kids, as if to say how it seemed they were little just yesterday. I shared that sentiment.
It was just yesterday when our children ran to us with broad smiles and outstretched arms, never-ending hugs and promises they would always love us more than anyone else. It was just yesterday when we solved all their problems, soothed all hurts and brought them joy and belly laughs with the simplest of things.
Today, our children are independent, have an ever-expanding social network and are constantly preparing for their next milestone. Today, they have bigger challenges, make important decisions that affect their future and deal with heartache. Their feet are firmly planted on the road to becoming their full, wonderful selves. They are creating their own lives. While it is all as it should be, it is sometimes hard to accept how it seemed to have happened so fast.
The truth is time just is. It is neither fast nor slow, it just is. We all have 24 hours each day. Our perception of time is what makes it feel too fast or too slow. I believe our perception that time is going by too fast happens when we are fully engaged in something that we deeply love and enjoy… like parenting.
Being a mom has been one of my greatest joys. Every stage of my children’s lives has brought many special moments, happiness, and countless blessings. I have cherished every second.
Rather than feeling sad that it has gone by too fast, I am working on adopting Dr. Seuss’s thinking in his quote, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” I am striving to make peace with the passage of time.
I may still shed some tears as I reflect on the years of raising my children, but I am determined that there will be more tears of happiness, filled with sweet memories and appreciation for all the moments that created those memories. I will get there in due time.
Ellen Bryant Lloyd is a writer and mom of two children, one who has flown from the nest and the other is not far from it. She blogs about perspectives on life and parenting at mindfulmom.wordpress.com and tweets at @EllenBLloyd. She is the author of FRECKLES and FRECKLES and The Great Beach Rescue, a freelance writer and memoir ghostwriter. Ellen lives in Greensboro with her husband, her daughter, when she is home from college, and the sweetest dog ever. She looks forward to seeing her son, who is now living and working in a nearby metropolitan city, as often as possible.