If it wasn’t for a clock’s ability to keep track of a relative path of time, I would never know where I’m standing in the universe. Time is not like the sun’s movement in that it cannot be counted on. Like a junkie with a speed addiction, Time seems to get the jitters and talk fast before crashing into a slow motion daydream for weeks on end. It doesn’t move the way the sun moves. It jerks and shakes in chaotic shifts and you never know what tide you’ll get trapped in or for how long. Why does Time move so fast when I’m having fun? It’s a horrible trick of existence – to make the wonderful times slide through our fingers like so much watered down gravy.
I look around me and realize everything is moving too fast. I feel like I’m driving through the desert to Vegas and I’ve suddenly glanced down at the speedometer. 110 mph! I wish life had a break pedal or at the very least, cops to pull me over and say, “Kids are turning three. You done everything you need to, son?” Everything is getting away from me. Everyday is this intangible trinket that I can never touch or see again. All I’m left with is a memory of what happened… or what I think happened… the way I remember it…
If Time truly does fly when you’re having fun, then I’ve been in a private jet since my two oldest kids (twins) were birthed into existence. Two nights running I’ve broken down crying while saying prayers with them and I feel like a woman on a cheap Lifetime movie. I just see these two children and they’re so… big. They just look like little… I don’t know… children and this is both beautiful and sad. They don’t look like babies… because they’re not babies. Time, that witch, has stolen my infants. Don’t get me wrong, she’s given me two beautiful children to replace them but… I don’t know… I want it all. I want them both. I want to hear Rory recite his entire bedtime prayers, ABCs, 123s, Itsy Bitsy Spider and color wheel out loud, all alone, without help… but I still want him to be a chubby baby that can’t sit up without assistance.
I want to carry him and hold him and he’s already getting to the age where I ask, “Can I hold you?” and he says, “No,” and even on those occasions where he does stretch his arms towards me, asking to be lifted up, I find that he’s nearly becoming too heavy to carry around for any reasonable length of time, his feet dangling down and kicking me in the dick while I carry him through Target.
I guess it wasn’t really so entirely noticeable until the third baby was born; Bryce has put everything into perspective; locked us all into a new view of ourselves. Before, when it was just the twins, I had that memory, that intangible trinket; I had the memory and the rules and regulations were set by me. I didn’t see them changing. They just… they went to bed and they woke up and they were a little older and bigger and smarter but I never noticed a difference.
Bryce makes the intangible tangible. She says, “This is how small they used to be. This is how helpless. Enjoy me while you can,” and then I’m on my knees trying to scrape those sand grains into my arms, trying to keep every moment from blowing away. I don’t want it to leave me, I don’t want to sleep at night, I keep everyone up until the very last possible moment, knowing that sleep will rob another day from me. I wish, momentarily, that there were Time Machines but, the truth is, Time is the Machine and it will never break and never stop, the most flawless watch to ever be created.
I want to shake Quinn and say, “Never leave! Live with me forever! I’ll build you a tree house in the backyard and it can all be yours! No! I’LL live in the tree house and you can have the front house; just never leave your Papa!” I want to clip her wings so she can never fly but… I know that would be wrong…
My mother is in town right now, staying with us for several weeks to celebrate the birth of our new daughter, having arrived just on the coattails of my mother-in-law, both of them from South Dakota. I look at them and I wonder and I think and I try to imagine what it’s like to have your children living halfway across the country. What is it like to only see them three or four times a year? What is it like to applaud your children’s success and encourage them to chase their dreams even though you know it means breaking your own heart and sending them away into the wild where they’ll be out of reach, out of call, out of touch.
Maybe this sounds like so much hand-wringing to anyone without kids but… you’ve just got to trust me. Children are the party that you never want to end. They are the DJs of your life and the entertainment. They are Fonzie. They are your friend with the trampoline in the backyard. They are Saturday morning cartoons and pancakes for dinner. They are Hide-and-Go-Seek and Jim Henson and adventure and cheese quesadillas all rolled up into one.
There’s nothing we can do to stop time. It’s not a tank we can stand in front of, it’s not a rope we can grab onto and it’s certainly not a vehicle we can drive. Time is just a cannon we’ve been fired from and we have our arms outstretched and we’re watching the scenery pass by as sticks and bugs slap us in the face. The trick is to not shut your eyes. Open them wide and watch. Watch everything as it rockets past you because this is the only trip you’re getting. Touch the grass, smell the roses, whatever you need to do. Just make it worthwhile because when the trip is over… when you hit the ground with a thud… that’s it.