The Incongruity of Raising Children
The other day a friend posted on Facebook how she wished she could “Speed up the days but slow down the years.”
Any mother, father or person that takes care of children 24/7 knows what a profound statement that is.
Speed up the days
Raising children is a lifetime of emotionally, often physically, challenging days in which sometimes you think you might go mad. Especially the early years.
Every morning it’s the same thing. You wake up bleary-eyed from a night with not enough sleep and then you feed, clothe, clean, feed, change, clean, feed, change, clean, feed, change, clean, feed, change, clean. Finally you go to bed praying you will get a little bit more sleep than the night before. Everyone always tells you to enjoy this time. But in your tired, glazed monotony you can only give them a grimace in return.
As they get older, the routine changes, but the monotony is the same. Now you feed and clean at regular intervals interspersed with toddler drama, playdates, trips to the zoo/aquarium/playground/anything to keep them busy. When more than one kid is involved, there is the never-ending refereeing you do to help them navigate their relationships. If you work outside the home, you do this in the morning, go to work, then rush home to return to it at night.
They get older still and start school. Things change again, but your days are still filled to the brim with kid-care. The morning rush – getting them up, making lunches, doing tasks you should have done the night before to make the morning go smoother. While they are away you either get yourself to work, or clean, plan and shop for them. When they get home you become the school monitor fighting the homework battles and the taxi service shuttling them to this and that. In between you try to reclaim parts of your former life.
Whatever the stage, every day is Lather. Rinse. Repeat. Ad Nauseam.
Slow down the years
You turn around and all of a sudden the years have passed with a blur punctuated by highlights. A week old, a month old, 6 months, a year, 2 years, first day of kindergarten, first day of middle school/high school/college, they get married, they start chasing around their own kids….The years pass by exponentially faster. You become that person telling complete strangers to enjoy their time with their babies and earn the grimace in return.
Number 1 started his last year of middle school this year. He is almost as tall as I am and I can see the man in him starting to show through. How did this happen? In my mind just last week I was watching him toddling around uncertainly from one piece of furniture to the next.
And that is where the paradox lies. I remember the early years, the monotony, the tiredness, the time when my days were filled with doing for them, not with them. But those memories are on the very distant horizon compared to my crystal clear memories of them laughing, learning to walk and talk and our adventures together.
And today I know I am going to spend another tooth-grinding day on the soccer field going from game to game to game dealing with the “I’m hungries, I’m thirsty, I have to go to the bathroom, I’m bored, he/she took my seat.”
But I know I will look back on this time and only remember reveling in their athleticism, celebrating their triumphs, sharing their defeats and the happy family time together.
And there will be a time when I wish I could do it all again.