By Katie McNally of Knock, Knock, Knocking on Forty’s Door
My eldest is about to turn eight, and it’s going to be a different birthday than I envisioned for him when we were discussing plans in February and early March. I could not have imagined a scenario like this in my wildest dreams six weeks ago, let alone eight years ago. This is always a reflective time of year for me, something I think is true for many parents as their children’s birthdays come around. COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdowns have certainly put a different lens on my thoughts and feelings as eight comes at us fast.
The current situation feels somewhat similar to how I felt on this day eight years ago, just without tiny feet pushing my ribs out from the inside. I didn’t realize it at the time, but those last few days waiting for my son would be the last time in my life I would be desperately impatient for time to pass quickly. Eight years ago, I was uncomfortable, anxious, and had prepared as much as I possibly could. Everything that was within my control had been taken care of. All that was left was to step into the unknown that is motherhood. I was also excited beyond belief to meet this baby, it felt like I had waited forever, I was ready to find out if I was having a boy or girl and have that baby in my arms. Then I was holding him, and time sped up.
I’ve never been one to age up my children and will sharply (and sometimes ridiculously) correct people when they try to age either my son or daughter up a day before their birthday. They are their current age until midnight of the day before their birthday. I always have a sense of sand slipping through my hands and wanting just a bit more time so I vigorously (and perhaps irrationally) defend every second.
Every year at this time I’ve looked at my son and wanted just a few more days of that age, even as I know it’s ridiculous—the number is arbitrary. He will be no different in few days when the number changes from seven to eight. He’ll be the same funny, loving, wild, creative child who has never known the meaning of quiet time. It is the number- that tangible marker of time passing and carrying us away from a time where he does what he’s supposed to do and sets out on his own- that is pinching my heart.
For the first time since those early days of April 2012, I’m finding myself truly anxious at points for time to pass quickly. It’s a different kind of anxious than it was eight years ago. It’s not so much a feeling of getting into something exciting as being ready to find our way out of a difficult situation.
It is strange to go from wanting to slow down time to now wishing it would speed up. I know I’m not alone in desperately wanting to arrive at the point where everyone is healthy, and people can get back to their normal lives. There are innumerable worries and challenges right now, great and small, that we all would love to just have in the rear-view mirror already.
The smallest of silver linings in this season of chaos and worry is I have gotten the closest I probably ever will to what has been my greatest wish at this time of year the last seven years. Time feels like it has slowed down a bit. It’s hard and not circumstances I ever would have chosen, but I feel a bit thankful at this exact moment, even with the omnipresent stress, tears over cancelled plans and attempts at home learning. I feel like I’m getting just a little more time with seven. A little more time with my little boy who is becoming more and more not so little by the second. I’m getting a chance to try to memorize what his smile looks like with the missing teeth and the grown-up teeth he hasn’t grown into yet. I’m getting time to cuddle with those long gangly legs and arms that seem be stretching daily and kiss those cheeks that have just a bit of baby still in them.
My heart hurts for all that is going on and the suffering that is coming with it, but if I am going to be able to find gratitude in anything right now, its going to be that these last hours, minutes, and seconds of seven seem to be stretching a bit. I know eight will be amazing and this time next year everything will hopefully have changed for the better. I also know I will be able to count on one constant, this time next year my heart will want just a few more days of eight…
About the Author
Katie is a Mother of Gingers (kind of like dragons but scarier at points). She is currently at home reheating a mug of tea for the eleventh time and working on various writing projects as well as getting her life together in general. She just turned 40 and is mining it for any blogging material she can while never being sure if she is wearing the blanket scarf or its wearing her. You can read more on her blog, Knock, Knock, Knocking on Forty’s Door or follow Katie on Facebook.