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January 13, 2016

Irreplaceable days: Meditations on motherhood & the passage of time

There are days I wish my son took epic naps. 

Long, lengthy forays into sleep would free me to catch up on my emails, write required blogs, record another webinar, do some extra yoga, cut and freeze the ripe mangos on my kitchen counter -- I could go on. Yes, there are days I wish for naps that span the afternoon. Days where my toddler would sleep, sleep and sleep. 

And then, I remember.

I’ll always have emails to respond to and inspiring thoughts to compose. Mangos will continue to grow on trees, and my yoga practice is a multifaceted friend. She comes in many forms, parenting with patience included. There will be days to perfect my headstand and plant the sunflower seeds that patiently wait in a cup by the sink. At least, I hope this is the case. As a trained hospital chaplain, I know how suddenly the wind of death can manifest and shift the sands of any life. Certainly, I pray to be blessed with many more future days. 

One thing I know, I won’t always have this day.

I won’t always have the humbling honor of mothering this little boy who laughs when he plays in his new, blue, plastic swimming pool. 

He splashes and giggles. I watch him try his own limits by attempting to lie down on his back in the water. The grass between my toes tickles and I lift my arms up toward the Florida palm trees that grace our peaceful and secluded backyard. Then, he runs to me laughing. He pulls up my shirt to nurse. My pants get soaked as he sits on my leg doing what is natural for all young toddlers to do -- suckle milk and snuggle with mom before bounding off for more play.

NoneMaja Aguilar/for PhillyVoice

Mother breastfeeding toddler.

I would never want to miss this. I can be physically present with him and mentally elsewhere, surfing the contours of my to-do list. No more. This is wasted time. My son won’t be 2 years old for long. His feet are growing, as is his vocabulary. My own 40-year-old body continues to age, and I see the wisps of single gray hairs now and then. I was once the toddler playing around my mother’s feet. 

I pray to slow the inner speed of my to-do list down.

Last Ramadan I touched base with a Muslim friend in New Jersey to wish her well. She wrote, “I've been overwhelmed lately because my oldest son just got engaged .... ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! How time flies. I just remember just giving birth to the boy! So here is a little advice to you: hold on to each precious moment as long as you can, it all goes by in an instant!”

As I read her words, I revise my wish for inhumanely long naps for toddlers. 

There is much wisdom to be gained from letting the transience of life really pierce open a sleepy and habitually sluggish way of seeing. I put aside the computer, the to-do list, the ever-flowing stream of information on my Facebook feed, and I watch my son nap. He will awaken in his own good time. His sweet, simple breath -- each inhale and exhale -- is irreplaceable. 

So is this day.  

Note: The above reflection was written in August 2013. 

This post has been reposted with permission from a previous post on Birth Breath and Death.


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