While we were on Long Island we went to visit Nana at the Arbors Assisted Living. Bringing children to a nursing home is like bringing a cake to a Weight Watchers meeting. The old folks gathered around, looking like they wanted to reach out and pet the kids, inhale them, eat them up. Nana, filled with anxiety over this, would loudly proclaim to anyone creeping near, “OKAY, SEE YOU LATER. LATER! I’M TRYING TO TALK TO MY FAMILY. GOOD-BYE! GO TO THE TV ROOM!! NOW!!” She used her walker to block anyone’s access to the kids. At one point I thought she would pick it up and beat back an old lady who was stretching her hand toward Graham’s hair. Another elderly woman tapped me on the shoulder and said, “Enjoy the children now. It goes so fast.”
This is something I’ve heard so many times it makes me cringe. Of course I know that. But it’s hard to fathom when lack of sleep doubles the length of your days, or when tantrums last several hours, or when food you’ve spent too much time preparing gets refused, or when any request turns into an argument, or when any errand is a mammoth effort of logistics. These have been the slowest quickest years of my life.
But I’m finally starting to really feel the passage of time. This has a lot to do with more sleep, fewer tantrums, kids who sometimes listen to reason and occasionally put on their clothes and get in the car without major drama. I first noticed it in February: The Month of Sick. It’s amazing how losing 1/12th of the year can make time feel slippery. March through May always speeds by in Austin because the weather is so amazing and the town is buzzing with festivals and hiking and weekends packed with fun. Soon it was June. The rest of the summer has been non-stop visits from family and friends as well as travel to Buffalo, the beach, Long Island and Oregon. Time has been condensed because we’re working around a new schedule: Kindergarten.
It starts ridiculously early here in Texas. On August 23rd Violet will be gone from 7:15-2:45. And every day after that. Then time really will fly. I’m trying to slow it down. But I’m not really sure if it’s possible to “enjoy the children” enough. Or how. No one has told me that part yet.