We are time's subjects - JJ Landis
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We are time’s subjects

Well, the babes are back to school. The one who was going to hate it seems to be enjoying the classroom so far. The two who typically don’t complain about school are the two who moan each morning over their crumby cinnamon toast begging me to let them stay home.


Once the euphoria (for me) of Day One (involving a visit to a hairdresser and a lunch with friends) wore off and the routine began to kick in – early bedtimes, homework folders checked, fresh clothes daily (unlike summer where an outfit is sometimes good for three days) – I took a few minutes to reflect and allowed myself to soak in the bittersweet moment (typically would choose to avoid this).


You hear it a lot when you have young children – for some reason, I heard it in the grocery store when my kids were slobbering all over the cart and screaming for another Smartie – “Enjoy these days. They go by so fast,” said many a gray-haired grandma. I always replied (in a yell louder than the kids’), “I know, time is fleeting. I am enjoying my kids. I am!”


Of course, the words were correct. Time does fly.


I was one of those moms who was a nervous ninny all the years my children were babies and toddlers. They stressed me out. The little energy suckers didn’t let up – they were loud and messy, always. All I ever wanted was to completemy obligations so I could relax on the couch. That still hasn’t happened by the way.


On the other hand, I did not want to lose a minute with the dears. Time was ticking. I took about 8,787,987 photographs (half of which got posted to my Facebook and blog) each day so I could remember every move they made. But tension always resided within me; I never felt I had a handle on parenting and I felt guilty for my stress.


My kids are now 12, 10, and 7 – this kind of mothering is more my style, the kind where I slowly read the newspaperwhile they get dressed for school. While they brush their own teeth and hairand watch the clock themselves, I selfishly sip my coffee. My 10-year-old does the morning countdown: “Thirty minutes, people!” “Ten minutes, people!” “Time to go. Come on. Let’s go.” (He’s sort of mean.)


So this stage is physically easier for me.


But yet.


I remember (from all that photographic evidence) how scrumptious they used to be. To be sure, they are still charming (of course, right?), but definitely not “cute.” I think God made babies irresistible– otherwise we would run the other way the minute they cried or pooped.


It’s so hard. Looking back hurts.
My snapshots of memories are joy-filled, yet sadness permeates them all. I knew all along, during each moment of joy, irritation, fear, and fun, that what the old ladies in the grocery store told me was true – the days go by quickly. Too quickly.


No matter what pictures I take, time remains slippery and refuses to be solidified.


Why do we have a pull to procreate? People, by nature, are selfish. Why do we have children – why do we put ourselves in the position of having someone else depend upon us for their life?


It’s a heavy consideration. You certainly don’t know what aching grief, cavernous love, loss of self will be involved with parenting until that first baby shows up. And even then, you still don’t quite ever know if you can make it. You doubt you are adequate, big enough, deep enough for the task set before you.


When you’re in the frenzied, sleepless, weary newborn stage, you tell yourself it will all be better once the baby sleeps all night. Then it will all be okay when the kid is potty trained. Then when he begins school and gets some structure and learns to read. Then. And then.


Once your first child hits school though, the record scratches. Time is tangible in the awkward way that it never is, and you say, “Hold up here. I’m not ready for this! Where did my baby go?” I need a rewind, please.


I don’t know much, but I know what’s going to happen (barring any tragedy preventing the natural course of things). They will leave me. Even though my son claims his life goal is to live in our basement, even he will become a man and leave.


They are growing into people. Realpeople, not just my photography/blog/Facebook subjects.


I was never prepared for the ridiculous ups and downs involved with this gig. I’m exhausted just trying to put this into words. Because I can’t find any words. The thesaurus comes up dry when it tries to give voice to a mother’s heart.


One of my best friends just experienced the marriage of her daughter. A week later she said good-bye to another child who moved across the country. Just a few months ago, she traveled through heartbreakwith yet another of her children.


It seems silly that I once naively thought when my children were grown and well-balanced enough to stay sober, earn their keep in the world of adulthood, and be relatively happy, I could finally relax. Nope. I see by walking with my friend and observing others that children continue to rip out your heart, even when they are making good decisions.


Someone give me words of wisdom. Teach me how to stop the clock whenever I want. How do I cherish the moments without obstructinggrowth? How do I continue on through this maze of emotions? I know we move forward; I know we take each day as it comes. The reality of my blessings is oppressive, at times too tender to touch.
“We are time’s subjects, and time bids be gone.” William Shakespeare
  • Rose A. Schwartz
    Posted at 07:49h, 29 August Reply

    You’re speaking my heart JJ. These are all the things that have been on my mind and heart the past few days/weeks. I’m facing the reality that I will be sending a child off to college in a couple years and that I need to be intentional with capturing each possible moment with him. I so dread what’s coming in 2 years but at the same time look forward to seeing what God does with him and spreads his wings. Oh so scary as a mom! It puts trusting Him with my children to a whole new level.
    Thank you for sharing your heart.

  • jillianw04
    Posted at 07:01h, 29 August Reply

    Ahhh, JJ! Once again, you have managed to speak the words of my heart! I feel all of these emotions…as I sit on Facebook ignoring my children while they get dressed for school. As I watched friends sending their kiddos off to college, I thought, “I don’t want to leave this stage.” I roll my eyes at the neediness, but I don’t want to give it up. Thank you for such a poignant writing. I hope you don’t mind if I share it!

  • Justacogitating
    Posted at 05:42h, 29 August Reply

    Awe, J.J., because God gave you a humongous heart that, while you may feel it will burst or break, is stretchable and flexible in ways not yet fully known. That’s why you’re an excellent mother. Because you care.

    And the times you wanted to scream, did scream, and chuck it all don’t count. Love does.

    The forgotten appointments, assignments, lunches even, don’t count. Love does.

    Just continue the love. Everything else works out.

    My heart is relatively strong but not “Mom” strong, not even “Wife” strong, which is why I admire and envy my friends who wear such labels. My life looks fun and exciting to some in those roles but it is an illusion that grass is greener on any other side.

    Enjoy the ride of life, my friend. And hang on.


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