As I was walking through the halls of my son’s musty, empty school last week on the way to pick up his report card, I felt a strange, uncomfortable feeling. Something gnawed at me, but I couldn’t decipher it. At first I thought it could be the familiar, end-of-the-year blues, that sad, yucky feeling I remember having when I graduated from high school and roamed the building in June; a bittersweet sense of finality.
But as a mom, it just seemed bizarre to have that same sense of mourning. During the past week, as I tried to understand this seemingly displaced feeling, I realized that this is different. I’m not missing my friends or the school, as I did when I was a teenager. I’m mourning the passage of time. Where did the year go? Where was I? How is it possible that Jonah is “graduating” from the Kindergarten/First Grade building and going to the “big school” next year? Was I really present enough this year? Where was I?
Yes, there were the times I came to the class and volunteered. One afternoon, I stole away from work so I could be “recess mom.” But somehow, it never felt like enough.
I am mourning time. My children are no longer the tiny, little people in pre-school or on the playground. I can’t shop for them at the fancy, baby boutiques because they no longer fit into those sweet, overpriced clothes. And shockingly while they just started to ski, they are almost too old to “ski free.”
Where has the time gone? There is plenty of talk of our biological clocks to have babies. But no one warns you that the clock keeps ticking after the babies are born. And it seems to go on warp speed the older they get. With Jonah, my colicky, non-napping first born, each day felt like a week. I was exhausted and drained and couldn’t wait for him to get older. Now, my baby Lexi is starting kindergarten in September and I want the clock to stop, or at least, to slow down.
The dilemma for moms is not about “having it all,” but about having some of it, all of the time. When I reflect over a year or a decade, I hope to conclude that while I had my own independent life, career and ambitions, I also felt very present with my children. Look back over those unfinished baby albums and you realize just how fleeting those moments are. The struggle is to make those moments meaningful. Because while we can’t stop the clock, we can make the most of our time.