One of the things that drive me crazy, and ask my husband—there are MANY, is when people shake their head and sigh, “where does the time go?” Most of the time, they are staring wistfully at my daughter, and it’s followed with, “I just can’t believe how big she’s gotten!”
Maybe you caught me during a particularly hormonal moment, but blessed land of the living, that phrase drives me bananas. Here’s why:
1. I can account for every single moment. I know that at 3:34 this morning, my two-year-old was up crying for me. I know that there were 30 blessed minutes between virtual teaching and her waking up from a nap yesterday. I know that last week, just before six p.m., she turned to me and said, “I’m going to draw a smiley face,” and holy steaming pile of you-know-what, she did it. I know that from 8:30 am to 10:00 am on Monday, I watched her little face light up as her yellow rainboots splashed in puddles. It is my greatest privilege that I can account for all of these moments. From 5:07 am on August 7, 2018, until today, I can bore you into a catatonic state and relay the beautifully mundane ticking moments of her precious life. So, yes, I know where the minutes have gone.
2. What I can’t account for since having her sweet spirit fill my days is how heavy each moment has become. I mean that in every sense of the word. The moments are heavy with fatigue when she has a nightmare, but when I climb into bed with her and feel her deep breaths and tiny hand on my face, the moment becomes heavy in a transcendental way. Her very handprint on my cheek is pressed forever in my mind, and somewhere I’m aware that my own mom still feels my tiny toddler hand on her cheek. Then there are the moments are heavy and sagging with overflowing joy when I watch her jump down the sidewalk after the zoo’s dolphin show, exclaiming, “See, mommy? I’m a dolphin! Jump, jump, jump!” Before I had her, I had no idea the precious weight of each moment. Moments that are truly worth more than their weight in gold.
3. Finally, the phrase, “where does the time go?” is typically uttered in tandem with, “she’s just gotten so big,” and it’s the latter that makes me very emotional. Listen, I get it. She did grow, and it’s a thing to say when you haven’t seen someone’s kid in a while. But my reality is that I don’t know if and when we will have another baby; we are in the murky depths of secondary infertility. Knowing this fact only adds precious value to her moments. I wrestle with the paradox of motherhood—wanting her to grow and thrive but struggling to see her move on from thumb sucking and diapers. It strikes a nerve deep in my heart when someone comments on “how big she is.” I have to tell myself over, and over how beautiful and exciting and precious it is to watch her grow up. I wish people commented instead on how fun she is or sweet or shy. To this mom, pointing out how big she is, feels like scraping a fork across my most tender skin. Don’t you know that I am collecting every precious moment of her life in my heart? Don’t you know that as I hold her moments close to my chest, I am simultaneously bolstering myself that my joy will only grow and praying for a beautiful life to unfold before her?
So, please, don’t comment on big my girl is or ask me where the time has gone. I pray I see her grow to have babies of her own, and from now until then, I’ll be gathering up her moments like precious rubies and holding them near. I know where her minutes have gone, and I’m doing my very best to show her excitement and joy for each step she takes toward independence and each step she takes further from me.