(tick, tock, tick, tock),
His life's seconds numbering,
(tick, tock, tick, tock),
I shivered. Riding along the bumpy dirt road to my Grandpa's house in the back of my Dad's wood paneled station wagon, watching the dust lift off the back tires like two brown plumes of smoke, I shook off the feeling of melancholy that always accompanied those lyrics. An odd choice of song for the end of side A on our Disney Children's Sing Along Songs tape that played a constant loop on our tapedeck in the late 80's.
Even as a little kid, I could feel it - time passing in waves. I'd list count downs in my diaries. This many months til Christmas. This many days until vacation. This many weeks til my cousins visited. I'd place check marks carefully on a promotional calendar Dad brought me from some insurance agent or bank he frequented. Every day accounted for. Back then, time couldn't move quickly enough. I just couldn't wait..for anything.
Time kicks you in the face when you have a baby. I'm not sure what it is. The whirl of new responsibilities, the demands of a tiny red-faced tyrant at two am, the sudden shuffling of the marriage relationship in light of new priorities - they all seem to do a number on time. I watch a video of my daughter sliding down a slide into the baby pool out back, recognize my voice talking to her - but that tiny one year old is now sitting beside me on the couch, making her own countdown list of how many days left til summer camp - when she'll leave me behind. What happened?
There's simply nothing like new life to make you consider your mortality - and your priorities. My cousin gave me a lovely stack of books for the summer. Novels I'm sure to love - mostly period dramas. I'm deep into the second, a lovely gothic inspired story by Kate Morton whom I adore - when it occurs to me. Hours spent reading in the midst of my busy day, ignoring my kids - is not quite as much better as binge watching the latest Downton Abbey as I'd like to think. I'm certainly not suggesting that reading is a waste of time, but when I let it take over like that - it's really no better than any other sort of couch potato-ing. Especially when it's all salacious family drama and intrigue and not making me a better person.
Time is finite. Every moment comes attached with a choice, an opportunity to live it with intention or to look back to a life filled with regrets and wonder wait! Where did they go? I can't get around to my life. It's happening, ready or not. The baby on my lap will be an 8 year old doodling next to her packing for camp list in a flash, and that 8 year old may just be the one driving to drop her off (gulp!). My husband and I will turn to each other on that day our last kid leaves home and wonder who this person is in front of us - if we forget to live our marriage now. To put it off is to put it aside entirely. There isn't another today left.
Rosie is crying in her crib for her older brother. I'm heading for the shower but I stop and scoop her up, quiet her down before handing her to him. She cuddles up against him because tonight he is 11 and his arms are all she wants - and he gladly receives her. I won't regret denying either of them this sweet opportunity to be love to each other.
Living with intention doesn't mean treasuring each moment in a Hallmark haze of perfection. Living with intention means getting up and doing this thing. Owning it. It is about living life with eyes open, purposefully, gratefully and contentedly, knowing that just the opportunity to do these mundane family days together is what living is. When we refuse to be distracted, when we set down the phone or the book or the knitting, when we jump in the pool even though we hate how we look in a bathing suit, when we let them stay up late to catch fireflies, when we take them strawberry picking just so they can sit in the dirt and eat real food off a plant in the rain, when we pull out the dictionary together, when we buy a pack of gum just to see who can blow the biggest bubble - we are investing in life. Ensuring that all of our futures will be steeped in the richness of true joy. The type only found in a grateful life.
This summer, I'm living gratitude. I'm taking facebook off my phone and setting my eyes on what - and who - matter the most.
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