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All Too Fast at a Slow Pace

Text by: Sue E. Peterson, author of The Mourning Run.

Years ago I had a dear friend in her late eighties. She told me when she was a young mother, she had time to sit under the apple trees with her little children all afternoon. But she said times are different for me, and I don't have that kind of discretionary time. There is too much I have to accomplish in too short a time. Twenty-four hours in her day was not the same as twenty-four hours is in my day. She told me time was speeding up.

I've thought a lot about that conversation over the years. When I remember my summers as a kid, and how long they were, I compare them to my summers now, which fly by. School's out one day, and I swear the next day the yellow busses groan by the house full of freshly scrubbed kids trussed in new school clothes

Time is a slippery - and sticky - thing. It all depends on what you're doing.

Twenty-nine years ago, I started my career as a full-time, up to my elbows, mom. That's been my primary profession for almost three decades. When I had children in diapers, training pants, and underpants, and I was struggling to get enough sleep to function, older women, the seasoned grandmas, would tell me to enjoy the road, that it would pass all too soon. I would thank them for the advice but disregard it. I saw no end to the messes, meals, car pools, laundry, incessant chants of "Mommy!," fingerprints on every conceivable surface, parent teacher conferences, homework, and lack of alone time.

But then a couple months passed, and our last child moved out and on to the next chapter of her life. I swear it was only a couple months, three at the most.

I was left to sit on her stripped bed, stare into the space of her abandoned room, and wonder what in the heck happened. The words of those wizened grandmothers rang in my ears. Yes, indeed, it had passed all too soon.

Like any mother, I slipped into the predictable guilt mode. "I didn't teach them [fill in the blank],"

"I should have [fill in the blank] more often," "Why did I [fill in the blank]?" All the unproductive woulda, coulda, shouldas. When I finished them, I was no further ahead than when I started them. Complete waste of time.

For so long, my time was dedicated to my children. I still feel that was the right thing for me to do with my time. But now that chapter has ended in my life, and I'm not quite sure what to do with my time. But that's not the purpose of this article. That's a journey for me to make on my own, as I figure out my next chapter.

I write to the young mothers. Those of you in the thick of it who think time has stopped when it comes to the physical demands of motherhood. Is there some way I can impress upon you that, whether you realize it or not, time is racing by on a greased skateboard pointed downhill?

So what can you do about it? Maybe realize the annoying stage your little one is currently in will pass. That expressed love is never a waste of your time. Dishes and laundry aren't part of the time continuum and will not explode if you leave them undone for a bit to spend time with your kids. Not taking the time to correct bad behavior will come back to haunt you. Yeah, you do need to take the time to teach your kids how to work. Wasted time waiting for a kid to do a job that would take you half the time is never wasted. Teenagers, in time, will stop hating you. You will one day have plenty of time to yourself; don't crave too much of it now. Understand you're raising your children to let them go — effective parents work themselves out of a job.

Mainly keep in mind that it will all pass quickly. Savor the sticky hands. Laugh at the food stuck on the walls. Go to the soccer games. Watch them leave for the prom. Sacrifice sleep-time to talk.

No matter how hard you try, time will cheat you out of a few things. But you can laugh in her face and take as much from her as possible before she moves on, because move on she will.