Time is the one thing that we all seem to have the least of. I hear it over and over again. No time for a movie, no time for a long relaxing bath, no time to finish reading that book or write that other one…there simply isn’t time.
Maybe that’s why people are always in a rush. Perhaps it’s nothing more than a desperate attempt to grab some time on the other end.
I have a love/hate relationship with time.
I like to be timely. In fact, I will do almost anything to avoid being late. Late makes me anxious and cranky, and leaves me feeling a little bit deflated. Late is the enemy.
And yet, I don’t like to rush. I don’t like the feeling that inevitably arises the moment I find myself running around the house in search of a lost shoe, a missing pair of sunglasses, or the Kindergartener who stopped to smell the roses (again).
I don’t like to rush my kids. Ever. Rush means stress and stress feels bad. Who wants to start or end the day feeling bad? Not me. Not them. They don’t deserve it.
They deserve smiles, praise, and kind words. They deserve pancakes, stories, and just a little bit of playtime before they head off to learn.
They deserve calm.
But sometimes…time wins.
Sometimes the clock seems to move in ten-minute increments instead of just one. Sometimes they stall and I stall and we all stall together because that song performed by the family band was just so much fun…and then we have to rush. Then we have to race the clock.
Until our little ones remind us otherwise…
The walk to school is cool and refreshing on a winter morning. With the sun in our faces and our coats wrapped tight around our waists, my sweet girl and I chit chat our way down the long slope. When the land levels out, we reach the school.
We chat about fairies and pixie dust.
Do you think there could really be fairies that paint the butterflies, Mommy?
We discuss the next baking project.
Please can we bake cookies today, Mommy? Or how about a cake? Cakes aren’t just for birthdays, are they?
We admire the houses and flowers and lawns that we pass along the way. We wind our way up and down a couple of side streets because, as it turns out, a straight line is sometimes boring.
And we laugh. Oh, how we laugh along the way.
Remember when Daddy told that joke at breakfast? Daddy is SO silly!
Most of the time, the walk to school goes exactly according to plan. Some sweet time with my sweet girl before I have to let her go for a few hours. I ache for these moments each day and secretly fear the day that they might come to an end.
I hold onto these memories with all of my mommy heart.
But some days…the ticking of the clock is loud. I find myself walking just a little bit faster when I know that time is winning. Today was one of these days…
We walked and talked and enjoyed the feeling of the sun on our faces, but we wandered just a little bit less. We didn’t stop for quite as many fallen leaves. We pushed forward toward our final destination until my sweet girl broke my stride with one simple question:
Can I walk on this wall, Mommy? You always tell me that walls are meant for walking on…
I smiled, nodded, and held out my hand for balance.
So what if we missed the bell by a minute? So what if we were the last ones through the door?
She has her entire life to learn the fine art of time management, but only a short period of time to truly enjoy walking on walls.
Hand in hand we slowed down and enjoyed the little things along the remainder of the walk. We picked up the red leaves, because those are the prettiest, and we stopped to admire a fountain along the way.
Noticing the empty quad upon entering the school, my sweet girl worried for just a second.
Am I late?
Not really, my love. You see? The bell just rang and we are walking in. We just enjoyed the walk, that’s all. We just enjoyed the walk.
With a hug and a kiss and a great big high five, she ran off to join her friends on the rug.
And my mommy heart swelled with love and pride as I turned around and began my walk home. We might not have been the first ones into the classroom, but we enjoyed a nice, calm walk and some together time along the way.
Keep walking the walls, Sweet Girl, just keep walking the walls. The rest can always wait.
It’s 8:37pm, waaaaay past bedtime for my non-napping three year old.
I march down the long hallway in my parents house where we are spending the night, prepared to lay down the law. “It is bedtime young man! Close your eyes and go to sleep!” I practice in my sternest voice.
But when I reach the door, the sound I hear surprises me. It’s not my son out of his bed playing cars or talking to his stuffed animals. It’s my dad. His voice is animated. I hear him straining to keep the excitement contained in his hushed tone as he reads a book to my baby boy. I don’t recognize the story, but that’s part of the charm of a grandparent’s house, isn’t it? Different toys, different books, special treatment.
In this moment I witness a different kind of love too: the one that my father gives to my son, his grandson. It’s different from the love the same man offered me, his daughter. More carefree perhaps. My parents were barely in their 20’s when they had me. Two years later my brother was born. They had nothing “figured out” – nor did they have time to ponder life goals and parenting philosophies with a family to support. Instead of worrying about it all, they worked to keep our family intact and close by while struggling to make ends meet. They worked odd jobs and late night shifts to maximize the time spent with us. I remember going to eat at the restaurant where my mom worked felt like a treat. On special occasions I got to ride with my dad in his taxi. They didn’t call it “bring your kid to work day” and they didn’t consult Dr. Sears as to whether they were in the parameters of attachment parenting. Family meant togetherness in our house and, while they weren’t always perfect, my parents executed that philosophy flawlessly.
Before I step into my son’s room, I take a minute to honor the way I was raised. Unlike my parents, I believe in schedules and structure, but above all else I share the goal of cultivating a close knit family. In fact, that idea is why we made the trip, on a random Thursday when my son should be in school, to my parents’ house for a long weekend. We are here so he can soak up time with his grandparents who cherish him in a way I never could.
As I hear my father taking on the voices of characters in this book, I recognize his unique grandfather love. It is a love enriched by time and experience, and stripped of over-stressed responsibility. It is pure and perfect, and has no regard for bedtimes. Not tonight anyway. I turn around and go back to my computer to write while the tears of joy fall from my eyes. Tonight, we are three generations under one roof. We are together. We are family.