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Time warp

November 22, 2010

Col and Rose are deep in holiday planning, which simply means trying to keep straight the order of winter holidays, as if we might pull a fast one and skip over Christmas. Rose is already nostalgic for the salad days of Halloween, while Col is stacking Christmas against his January birthday and trying to recall how Santa Claus fits into our family.

For Col and Rose, time is this slippery thing that expands and contracts without warning. The unit of one week seems so arbitrary when Rose wonders wistfully when it can be Tuesday again so we can go back to the pool, even while we’re in the locker room toweling off the very chlorine of a Tuesday swim.

Col spent five minutes this morning trying to recount this specific memory. “I was building a lego airport…Rosie knocked down the tower…and then we ate apples in the bike trailer. Remember?” Dan and I scrolled through our flimsy mental archives, only to discover Col was talking about yesterday!

I love this about childhood, this loose and carefree grasp of your very own life. The way you can fill your mind with legos and kitty purses until you collapse in a midday nap while some adult is fretting over dinner and real holiday plans.

Even on the way to the dentist last week, Rose asked “how many more days until we go to the dentist?” Which is one of those questions that just makes us both more confused. Col explained, “Rosie, we’re already going there right now,” which cleared things up until Rose asked, “but how many days have we been waiting to go?”

Every anticipated event has a countdown. “How many days now, until Baba and Nana come to visit?” Rose will ask both before and after rising from a nap. Someday these kids will learn to read a calendar and it’ll be like the discovery of fire: there’s these little squares that keep track of time and you don’t even have to count on your fingers!

I understand time less than ever now that I’m a parent. How does it lurch through summer to the first day of kindergarten, and then hobble along on dark winter evenings when the clock seems to go backwards between dinner and bedtime?

Col says “I can remember Rosie as a baby, but only in pictures.” And I have the same problem. Rose spent much of her first two years wearing down a notch on my hip, but I can’t conjure the sound of her toddler laugh or the particular weight of her infant body cradled in my arms, converting breast milk into chubby thighs. Col and I spent weeks in the NICU trying to achieve breastfeeding success (which we did!), but I can’t remember the feel of his baby blue eyes locking on mine, even though those exchanges were the fuel that charged me through those hospital days.

All I know is right now. That as I write this Rose is 3 1/2, wearing a kitchen cape (apron) and leotard, placing bandaids on Col’s face for his “ear inspection.” It’s a little heartbreaking–this forgetting–but also perhaps like eating an amazing dessert; you can’t reminisce about yesterday’s meal when your fork is plunged into the very chocolately deliciousness of the present moment.

Last night at dinner Col told us how his kindergarten class made fossils with mud and flour and it would take a very, very long time for them to dry – like two days.

How does time shapeshift in your world?


Oh, and it’s Monday. Yay! Here’s your weekly installment of San Juan Table, in which I share how to grow DIY gourmet greens for less than $2 week.

16 Comments leave one →
  1. November 22, 2010 12:14 pm

    damn woman. you got me all teary. beautifully written.


  2. November 22, 2010 12:55 pm

    It is just so true! So true! Everything about what you’ve said is spot on. Check out this video of this mama’s testament to the same notion!

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 22, 2010 4:15 pm

      Thanks for this video. I read her book, it was wonderful, and so was this video. Sniff sniff. When this lady in line at the supermarket today told me and Col that someday he wouldn’t want to snuggle in my arms, he was more shocked than I was.

  3. November 22, 2010 1:08 pm

    Oh goodness, how I feel the truth of these words. It seems like there’s a trend in the blogging world of talking about “being present.” I know I think about it too. But when you present the idea of time and memory as you do here, I realize how hard it is to remember the past and that the present really is what we’re living at every moment.

    P.S. Love to see @redwoodcottage’s shout-out to Katrina Kenison above.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 22, 2010 4:17 pm

      Realizing that “the present is what we’re living at every moment” gives me such comfort, even if it means memories of the past are washed away.

  4. Kathy permalink
    November 22, 2010 1:48 pm

    Thank goodness for what our children do remember, as they fill in the gaps between then and now, for us, so many years later. Their memories are clear, so descriptive, but only from their perspective.
    What did I see or hear? Was I even there to witness it? It’s all there in the memory, just crowded out by a million stop signs, tears, sunrises, trips to the grocery store, billions of dust motes having floated away into…
    time it was, and what a time it was… it was, a time of innocence, a time of confidences… long ago, it must be…
    Yet as Col said, he can remember only because of photographs. How blessed are we whose lives can be reconstructed by them as well.
    The present, for a child, stretches beyond their imaginations, yet for us, it is sorely punctuated by missing pieces lost in the box of a 5,000 piece puzzle, or maybe in the other boxes set aside in the closet.

  5. Melissa Neta permalink
    November 22, 2010 1:51 pm

    This cracks me up, especiallly because time has become a hot topic at our house, too, mostly in reference to holidays (Avi wakes up every day and asks, Is it Hanukah yet? and answers his own question with, First we have to have Thanksgiving) and also in reference to Lilit (talk about a time warp! How can she possibly be 6 mos old this Friday???), such as, Now baby is bigger? But yesterday she was little.

    Most things in the past, for Avi, are referenced as “yesterday.” And when he busts out these detailed events that happened months ago with such clarity, Leeor and I also foggily look at each other and realize yes, he absolutely knows what he’s talking about. Kids are amazing.

    Oh, and I had my first Saturday in the ICN/L&D world . . .honestly, I spent more time with L&D and let’s be honest, it’s more of my comfort zone right now but I really, really like it! And Leeor brought Lilit to me so I could nurse her in the afternoon which was, quite simply, the best part of my day.

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 22, 2010 4:19 pm

      For so long Rose called everything in the past “last year.” Including, “I don’t have to pee, I went last year.”

      happy 1/2 year birthday to Lilit!

  6. November 22, 2010 5:27 pm

    Loved this!

    Theo’s latest is “when he was a kid…like four years ago.” ;)

  7. November 23, 2010 12:13 am

    Well, my kid doesn’t talk yet. BUT…I used to measure time by how many college degrees I could have (e.g. every 4 years) and those years seemed to FLY by. But now, with a small human who grows and changes daily and “10 months old” seemed like a year ago, not three months ago, I have a whole new appreciation for time. Time still flies, but it is rich and varied. It’s like traveling in a foreign country where the happenings of ONE DAY could fill an entire journal.

    Ahhh. I love your blog. I wish you had started blogging when your kids were wee little so I could go back and read : )

    • 6512 and growing permalink*
      November 23, 2010 11:24 am


      Thank you. I started writing a biweekly column for my local newspaper when Rose was 8 months and Col almost 3. I’ll see if I can find a link to the archives. However, be warned: those times were challenging and apparently my writing reflected it. Sometimes I run into friends who read my Durango Herald column and they say (based on current columns): “sounds like life is getting way easier.”

  8. November 23, 2010 12:58 pm

    Tell me about it…I have this tall, lanky, guitar-playing, sassy nine-year-old kid living in my house and I have no idea where he came from (or what happened to that baby in all those pictures on the walls…I think the fairies stole him and replaced him with a changeling).

    Thanks for the sprout reminder…I usually finally think about starting sprouts somewhere around February when my vitamin D and seratonin levels are at their lowest ebb.

  9. November 23, 2010 1:01 pm

    I love, love love how you painted this! That fluidity and current of time that runs just under the surface of life for our kids, that washes them up on invisible islands in a random archipelago of life’s moments.

    I grew up temperamentally not plugged into the linear passage of time, and it has served me well as a parent. But, when a seemingly distant event or birthday is now The Next Day, it is not a quality I find easy to live with! I end of hurrying, because of my -in-the-moment-ness, and not having a clue about where our current life is headed after today!

    Have a tremendous week…:-)


  10. November 23, 2010 6:02 pm

    Beautiful post. My two-year-old son’s learning about time, and for some reason he always thinks it’s 7:30. “Is it 7:30, Mama?” I hate the idea that I’ll forget any of these days and years with him. But I love that parenting forces us to live in the moment.

  11. November 23, 2010 9:19 pm

    Bob asks me daily, and has done so for months:
    “Is it tomorrow, today?”

    Time for me goes warp speed. Last winter flew by, it was easy. The winter before that took an eternity – started snowing in October and stayed into April. But even that went faster than Life Before Children.

    It just evaporates now. I am so conscious of appreciating the moment, trying to be in it, love it… it’s hard for me to not feel sad… to mourn already how little time we have together.

  12. Brigid permalink
    November 28, 2010 7:01 pm

    I loved this post. This moment with them is as beautiful as the yesterdays-thank you.

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