Smalls is now the age Red was when we moved to Boise. When I was 35 weeks pregnant – with Smalls. I hear this phrase all the time, the days are long, but the years are short. I acknowledge it intellectually, I understand it’s true, but normally I’m stuck down so deep in those long days that I can’t see it. Right now, however, everywhere I look I’m seeing the parallels between Red when Smalls was born, and Smalls now. I’m on a mountaintop, a cliff, a precipice, over which I am peering down at the past on one side and the future on the other, and i can see those short years. I looked at a photo of Red the day he came to first visit me in hospital after Smalls was born. Smalls is currently wearing those clothes.
I remember packing the balance bike into our suitcase for our trip to Boise, knowing Red couldn’t be without it. Red is two bikes on now, and Smalls is currently rocking that balance bike. I received an email today about enrolling Smalls into the preschool Red went to for 2 years before Kindergarten – he started the August after we moved to Boise. We were due to tour it, and my husband had to call from Labor and Delivery to cancel, letting them know I was about to give birth any minute. Obviously it was more than 24 hours later, but that’s a story for another post.
I can’t breathe sometimes when these memories bear down on me. When I look down from the precipice at where we’ve come from and see those last 2 1/2 years laid out for me so clearly. That’s why, when we’re in the trenches of parenting, we don’t see that the years are short. When I imagine Smalls the age Red is now, Red an 8 year old, having two school aged children, not having the constant crying and tantrums, naps and diapers, close snuggles and small hands around my neck, knowing I will be through all this soon, my heart cracks. My eyes tear up. We can’t know all this, because we can’t bear it. To understand how fast we will be bereft of our kids is to kill us not in tiny cuts that we barely feel, but in a short sharp twisting knife to the gut.
So next time you see another mom in the trenches and want to comfort her by telling her the days are long and the years are short (and I understand why, in a lot of ways I get it) please don’t. Smile, offer to look after her babies while she takes a nap, let her moan about how hard it is just now. Don’t break her heart. It’s happening all around her, every day, in tiny cuts, and the only way she’s making it through is by being too busy to notice.