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Since I’ve become a mom, my relationship with time has changed. The world used to be so orderly. Minutes were minutes, months were months. I didn’t wish for time to go by more quickly or more slowly, I just existed and progressed through life in a linear fashion.
From the moment that I found out that I was pregnant, I have been so much more conscious of time. Having lost my first pregnancy, I was über-aware of how far along in my second pregnancy I was at any given moment. I was so worried about losing the baby that I prayed for time to speed up, to rush me to my due date so that I could meet my baby. Those nine months felt like years.
Once my baby arrived, my sense of order disappeared. There were no more days or nights. There were no week days or weekends. There was just a whole year of maternity leave stretched out ahead of me, where every day was exactly the same. Days started to seem like they lasted forever. I would wake up every morning, completely unsure about how I was going to keep my baby happy for a full day. I would muddle through the days, watching the clock, waiting for 5:00 pm when my partner would come home. I would anxiously wait for milestones to arrive: my baby’s first smile, his first laugh, sitting up for the first time. Day by day, it would seem like nothing ever changed. But then I would look at him and he would look so grown up, and I would wonder when that happened.
When he turned six months old, all of a sudden I stopped wishing the time away. I wasn’t in a hurry for him to reach the next stage. I was half way through my maternity leave and facing the reality that I would have to return to work and leave my baby with someone else during the day. Every minute was suddenly precious. Every new skill that he learned was evidence that I was closer to the end of my leave. With every giggle and cuddle I was reminded that pretty soon it would be someone else comforting him and making him laugh. I wanted him and time to slow down. I wanted more time with my baby.
He’s now almost eight months old and changing every day. He’s turning into such a little person. He makes jokes and has definite likes and dislikes. He loves me and his dad and is wary of strangers, and is starting to eat real food. Every day, he’s turning into more of a little boy and less of a baby. And I still have a complicated relationship with time.
There are things that I can’t wait for. It will be nice when he can talk so that he can communicate to us what he wants. It will be fun when he can walk so that we can play outside and he can help me dig in my garden. But I also know that once these baby days are gone, they’ll be gone forever. I’ll never have another year of dedicated time where it’s just me and him every day. I won’t always be able to protect him by keeping him close to me all the time. He’s going to have to go out into the world and he’ll get hurt and there’s nothing that I can do about it.
So I try to live in each moment. When he wakes up at night and needs me to cuddle him back to sleep, I try not to get annoyed. One day that will end, and I’ll remember the sweet moments as I rocked him in the corner of his room and he tried to put his pacifier in my mouth. I no longer wait anxiously for his dad to get home from work. I keep us busy during the day, trying to do as much as we can while I’m still at home.
It’s hard not to wish for time to speed up or slow down when you have kids. Each stage of their development comes with things that you wish would last forever, and things that you can’t wait to end. But I know now that even the things that I thought I hated, I look back on fondly. The sleepless nights, so unbearable when he was a newborn, now make me nostalgic for late night cuddle sessions where he would rest his head on my shoulder and it was just me and him in the dark, quiet world. Where I was once so anxious to get rid of his big, bulky baby equipment, now that I’m faced with having to part with it, it makes me sad. I know that once he starts talking, I’ll miss his babbling gibberish and the days when I could say “ba ba ba ba” and make him laugh.
When you’re a parent, time is distorted and perceptions change as the weeks and months fly by. What has your relationship been like with time?