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The days are long, but the years are short

We went out to eat this past weekend, and on one of my many, many rest room stops with my small bladdered children, I was changing my 2 yr old son's diaper.  He was so big laying there on that pull down changing table.  An older woman came walking out of a stall and he could not contain himself from talking.  "Hello!  Hi!! I two.  I eatin' ice scream."

The woman laughed and engaged him in conversation while she washed her hands. As she went to leave, she turned to me and said, "It goes so fast.  I remember when mine were that small.  So fast.  They are probably all older than you are now."  She sighed deeply and then she left the room.

I remember when I was a kid and people would say, "Wow you are growing so fast!  Where does the time go?" 

I would think, fast?  Time dragged on interminably.  I remember how the time from the first day of school to Halloween seemed like an eternity.   And from Halloween to Christmas, well that seemed like a couple years. 

I turned back to Miles.

Now it seems as though my children grow each time I blink.  There are still days when lunchtime rolls around and I wonder how we are going to kill the rest of the daylight hours. But mostly I feel the days and years slipping through my fingers. 

While I used to rejoice at the end of the day when my children were small because I had made it through another day with all of us alive, now at the end of the day I often feel a loss.  I think of the things that I didn't do, the words unspoken, the connections I failed to make.  That the time of being the perfect mother is passing and I still haven't mastered the perfection yet.  I want to shout, "Do Over!"

Comments like the older woman from the bathroom's stab my heart a little.  Whenever I hear people say it, there seems to be a twinge of regret.  A tiny bit of I wish I knew then.  A smattering of I should have enjoyed it more. A helping of wistful longing, and a side dish of regret. 

But time is a double-edged sword.  I love sleeping through the night.  My days of changing diapers are coming to an end.  I am no longer tethered to a baby who depends on my physical body for his sustenance. 

And yet, right there is the other side of the sword, no more babies who gaze up at me with big doe eyes while they nurse.  Soon these little bodies that I know as intimately as I know my own will be foreign to me.  My older children would rather die a slow and painful death than have me or any other person see them naked.   Insomnia has struck me.  Don't think that I don't curse the irony of not being able to sleep at precisely the first time in years that I can do so.

When my children grow up and move out of the house, when I am an old lady, will I say the same thing?  After a day like today filled with tantrums of the teenage and toddler variety, I wonder.

Or maybe I will mutter under my breath, "Thank God it is over," as the bathroom door closes.


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