Have you ever had the experience of time disappearing right in front of your eyes? There you are, pulling into your driveway, but you don’t remember the drive home. Your kids finally go to bed, so you sit down to watch a show in a fit of exhaustion only for it to all of a sudden be 11:00pm. Time is an odd thing, isn’t it? Some days seem to last for.ev.er. If you have kids, I KNOW you’ve looked at the clock some days to see how far away nap or bedtime is. Come on, be honest now, friends. Or maybe you’ve had the experience of being at work, feeling like it’s been a loooooooong day, only to discover it’s 9:15am. It happens to us all. There’s no shame in admitting it.
The Days are Long, but the Years are Short
You see, time is weird. It can be both fast and slow at the same time. Time takes hold of us. Time marks us. My pastor used this phrase recently in a sermon and it hit home. Sure, time physically shows on our bodies and faces, but it is deeper than that. With time, comes experiences. Time creates opportunities and understanding. In time, bonds grow and our hearts expand. Time marks the moments as they pass and also as we look ahead.
I know because this has happened to me. I am 42 (and a half) and my oldest son just turned 5. How did this happen, people? It was both just a few months ago that we brought him home on Valentine’s day of 2015 and yet, I barely remember life without him. We didn’t know what we were doing or how to do this epic job we had been charged with, but it soon consumed our days.
Yes, the days are long. There is a lot of work that goes into getting everyone ready for their day, feeding, entertaining with activities or experiences, redirecting, researching best parenting practices, trying to get them to sleep, teaching them how to use their words, explaining the things they notice around them. The list is endless. With all of that activity and mental pressure, the time flies by. Before you know it, you have a 5yr old (or 10, or 16, or 21). The years, they are short.
The Tattoo of Time
You can experience periods of life filled with so much joy you’re going to burst, but still be mourning something or someone. It is in these times of life in which we are tattooed by the impact of something or someone. Parenthood has been one of those times for me. There is such a swoosh of change that occurs. I always wanted to be a mom and a wife. Here I was, getting it all in a matter of months. Go read about it here and here :).
I literally got engaged, pregnant, married, and had our first child in less than a year (all after the age of 35…seriously, go read the above linked posts)! Whoa, nelly. If you think about our experiences or roles in life as tattoos, then you start to see how the scene starts to take shape. Life starts to flow into itself creating a beautiful picture of where we’ve been, but also hinting at our present and our future.
Much of life is not directed by us. Things may not happen when or how we want them to at times. We do, however, get to choose our response to life and our preparation for it. My tattoo of motherhood is not going to be a mirror image of your motherhood/fatherhood tatto. There’s immense beauty in designing our outlook and the steps we take in meeting a challenge. In my opinion, there may be no greater challenge than parenthood.
Time has marked me greatly. Time has marked by skin to show a life of laughter. Time has marked my body with changes of motherhood. More important than either of those, time has marked my heart and mind to see the beauty in nearly all things. I’m no saint, folks. I still get frustrated or feel the sting of disappointment when things go awry. But, usually, I later can see how the sun peeked through the clouds of a rough day to create a beautiful pattern of shadows dancing on the ground.
Yep. Time marks us. You know those ‘Memories’ Facebook sends you? Or the ‘On this day 2yrs ago’ that you get from Google Photos? Man, these are amazing tools. Think about it. 30 years ago, you would be digging through a box of printed pictures to maybe run across one from the same month or season if you were lucky. Now, we can quickly be reminded how we looked and even what we were thinking on a certain day. It’s somewhat magical. You see, time passes whether you take a picture or not. Time keeps ticking whether you write down or type up your feelings. Time doesn’t care. It’s like one of those riddles: What passes you by, but stays with you for an eternity? Time marks us.
So, we get to decide. In the mundane of the day to day, how will time influence us? What decisions can we make to soak it in more fully even as it passes?