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 bustling, teen-filled household, but it turns out that this feeling is universal. Today, while having my hair cut, the stylist mused, “Can you believe summer is almost over? It just started and here we are, pretty much Fall.”
Last week, the night before leaving to sleepaway camp, my tweve-year-old son said, “Mom. Time is moving too fast. I’m already going into year 8!”
How strange for a child to notice the passage of time. What happened to being a kid and feeling like time was oozing by at a snail’s pace, taking forever to get to that coveted moment of being a grownup, free of the shackles of childhood?
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. We hardly have to wait for anything and we rarely need 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. As if there couldn’t possibly be another reason for my being online other than to wait for a communication from them.
Getting off the treadmill and living off the grid is something few of us have the luxury to do, possible only if someone else is managing the demands of daily life for you. Or if you were already a recluse to begin with.
Instead of affording us more free time, those spaces created by fast apps and faster broadband get filled quickly. With what? More apps? More news? More content such as this article you’re reading right now?
Time is propelled forward even further and faster by businesses promoting seasonal merchandise earlier each year. My brother-in-law sent me a photo from a Target on July 4. Instead of seeing stars & stripes napkins he encountered aisles of BACK TO SCHOOL stuff. In July. When school had only just finished a few weeks prior. Thanksgiving merchandise rolls out in August, Christmas in September and it feels like we are always living in the future. Never in the now.
So to major retailers I say: Stop stressing us out!
I never thought I’d miss those endless days when my kids were little, when I counted each minute until 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 my husband carefully fastened our two-day-old son into his new car seat, repeatedly checking that he was strapped in like a NASA astronaut on a space shuttle about to launch. There is no slower driver than a new parent transporting their firstborn home. Walking would have gotten us home 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 daybreak so we could start calling family members to ask for help.
It was the longest night I can remember and our first taste of how time moves, sloth-like, when you’re raising small children.
We would go on to have three more children in quick succession and, seemingly without warning, they were no longer little. That’s when things really started speeding up. I suddenly understood what the Days Of Our Lives tag line meant; the days really were like sands through the hourglass, only someone had widened the glass tube causing the sand to gush instead of trickle.
I didn’t will my youngest to grow up faster as I’d done with his three older siblings. I begged time to slow down and did what I could to make that happen amidst the blur of a hectic household.
That child, my baby, is the one asking me how we can bring the pace down a few notches, to hit the pause button just as he stands on the edge of young adulthood.
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.