I can’t believe it’s August. Frankly, I can’t believe that I can’t believe it’s August given that I only recently got over the fact that it was July. And June before that. 

I’m never NOT surprised by what month it is. Or what day, or time.

“How is it Thursday already?”

“It’s 4 PM??”

At first I thought it was just me, a middle-aged CFO of a hectic, teen-filled household, but it turns out that this feeling is universal.  I was getting my hair cut and the 26-year-old stylist mused, “Can you believe summer is almost over? It just started and here we are, pretty much Autumn.”

Last week, the night before leaving to sleepaway camp, my 12-year-old son said 

“Mom. Time is moving too fast. I’m already going into year 8.”

What?? A 12-year-old noticing the passage of time? What happened to being a kid and feeling like life was dragging, like it was taking too long to be a grown up already?  The increased velocity is impossible to ignore. 

It’s like we’re all on a treadmill and some invisible hand is forever increasing the speed.  I partially blame technology.  It makes everything move faster, in some ways to our benefit and in others, not so much. We hardly have to wait for anything and we hardly have to leave the house in order to get whatever that anything is.   But we are also accessible 24/7 and are therefore expected to be responsive 24/7. When my sons WhatsApp me and can see I’m online, if I don’t reply within 2 minutes I can expect a “???” to follow immediately.  

Getting off the treadmill, living off the grid, is something few of us have the luxury to pull off. To do so would mean that someone else is managing the demands of daily life for you. Or that you have no friends. 

Instead of leaving pockets of free time, those spaces created by fast apps and faster broadband get filled quickly. With what?  More apps?  More content? I am aware of the irony that this blog post is, itself, more content. Thanks for making time to read it, by the way. 

I firmly believe that another contributing factor to this phenomenon is how far in advance businesses promote seasonal merchandise. My brother-in-law sent me a photo from a Target on July 4.  Instead of seeing stars & stripes napkins he saw aisles of BACK TO SCHOOL stuff. In July. Thanksgiving merch rolls out in August, Christmas in September and it feels like we are always living in the future. Never in the now. 

 There’s only so far the Calm app can go to combat this so stop stressing us out, Target (and other major retailers). 

I never thought I’d miss those endless days when my kids were little, when I counted each minute till bath and bedtime. 

What I remember about the day we brought our firstborn home from the hospital 18 years ago is how slow everything was. How we left the hospital and Phil carefully fastened our 2-day old son into his new car seat, repeatedly checking that he was strapped in like a NASA astronaut in a space shuttle about to launch.  There is no slower driver than a new parent transporting their firstborn home and we were no exceptions. We could have walked faster.

As clueless, first time parents, the first day home was a blur of feeding, changing, keeping detailed records of the baby’s poop (frequency, consistency and color. I have no idea why we did this but I’m guessing it gave us the illusion of a sense of order and control.)

It was a long day. But it was about to get longer.  

“Well, it’s almost 11 PM, time to put this little guy to bed,” we said stupidly, unaware that newborns don’t have bedtimes. Or feeding times. Or pooping times. They do what they want when they want to.

Our baby didn’t sleep that night and neither did we. He screamed his head off, inconsolable, despite us doing the only three things we knew how to do; feed him, keep his diaper dry and rock him. Scream, scream, scream. All. Night. Long. 

We stared out the window, desperate for the sun to rise. At first light we called Phil’s mom and begged her for help (help she’d generously offered but Phil had refused because he was all “Nah, we got this”). 

It was the longest night I can remember and a foreshadowing of how time moves, sloth-like, when you’re raising small children.

In the early years I willed them to grow, certain that more sleep and freedom would greet me at the next stage if only we could get past the one we were in.  How foolish I was to not savor every second, even the manic ones.  By child number 4 I’d learned this lesson and did everything I could to be in the moment instead of wishing for the next one.  Because once they hit their pre-teen years, things speed up considerably. 

That child, my youngest, is now 12, and asking me how we can bring the pace down a few notches, to get some relief from the pressure that comes with entering young adulthood. To hold on to the present for just a little longer, perhaps even to stop time like Evie Garland used to do on the 80s TV show Out of This World (look it up). 

At night I snuggle with him in bed like we did when he was little, burying my nose in his freshly washed hair and tell him, truthfully, that I don’t know. 

4 thoughts on “Hitting the Pause Button

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