There are moments when I can hardly bear the passage of time, moments when I’ll look at my nearly-six year old and realize how young and small he really is but knowing that if these six years passed so quickly, how much more quickly will the next six pass, and the six after that. There are moments when I deeply long for unbroken sleep, but then I snuggle up next to my fifteen month old and revel in his smallness, knowing that, in what feels like a blink of an eye, he’ll turn two, then four, then six. Humans try to defy nature at every turn, but try as we might, we cannot defy time, which moves inexorably forward toward the end of a life and beyond.
My passion for paradox led me to study Jungian psychology; my life training in transitions has helped me develop an expanded comfort level with holding two or more emotions within a single experience. But still, at times, I resist. I wish for a way to stop time at my will, to hold onto the preciousness of their smallness and innocence. Paradoxically, I delight in their growth and wish for nothing more than to be able to witness each passing day and the ways in which my kids evolve more fully into themselves and manifest their potential. For as much as I feel the ache of nostalgia when I see photos of Everest at two or four, I celebrate the person he is today. If I froze him at four, I would never know the wondrous boy he’s become at six.
With each complete cycle of breath, I grieve on the exhale, pause, then celebrate on the inhale. And this is how it goes with transitions. We let go, we sit in the empty space, and we’re birthed again. We breathe into the pain of loss, the awareness that time keeps marching on despite our human desire to hold on, and we embrace the new moment which is ripe with possibility.
It’s the polarity of opposites that creates the ache and ecstasy within me. It’s walking into Asher’s room when he wakes up from a nap and seeing him sitting up on his cozy little bed, his brown hair tousled, wearing just a lime green cloth diaper, the purest smile brightening his face when he sees me. It’s holding him close in the most delicious embrace and knowing that these days are finite, that he’s only this small and pure for a couple of years, then the relationship changes into something more solid and reciprocal, more challenging and fulfilling in a long-term way. It’s embracing the still point at the center of this polarity and tasting, for just one moment, the divine.
As a new mom to a two-week-old, I am beginning to understand exactly what you mean. Thanks for reminding me to give equal time to the celebration and not get hung up on the grief.
Tara – Congratulations on the birth of your baby and yourself as a new mother. Yes, celebrate the joys, but the grief deserves a prominent place as well during the initial stage of your transition into motherhood. And the more you honor the grief for as long and as deeply as you need to, the more the joy and celebration will naturally bubble to the surface. They’re really partners in this dance of life, equal sides of the same coin, especially during transitions.
This speaks to an experience I have struggled with for such a long time: the fear of losing time, or of not spending time “correctly.” It is so difficult to embrace the moment as it is, but the moment becomes a restorative thing once embraced. I think we must grapple with loss, with mortality, and with sadness to truly also grasp life and joy. In separating ourselves from our grief we separate from our ability to live deeply.
That is so beautifully expressed, Rachel; thank you. You brought tears to my eyes.