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Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Impatience and Mortality.

I'm a very impatient person. I get antsy, restless, stir crazy. I'm talking from big things, like when Todd and I planned our wedding, to little things, like why does it take so long to toast an English Muffin, or why does an instant read thermometer still take eight seconds?

It's not that I'm a bitch about it, but I can't even say that it doesn't cause me to freak out on a minor "Oh my God hurry up!!" way. The wedding planning was horrible, almost, because I couldn't stand the limbo-like state of being, for an entire year, in the nothing-is-quite-done stage. It niggled at me, and itched, and scratched, and really upped the antsiness. But I need to get over that, because life is a constant state of nothing-is-quite-done, because if it's all done then you're dead.

The driving force behind this is beyond me, but it might be linked to my extreme need for multi-tasking. Watching TV is usually more like watching TV, surfing the internet and playing Words With Friends, or doing my nails, or thumbing through cookbooks. While the water fills in the tub or in the washing machine, I like doing other tasks at the same time, instead of doing simple chores, THEN filling the tub or washing machine. Because those things don't require constant supervision, to not multi-task at that time feels like a shameful waste of my precious time.

And time is precious. Perhaps then the driving force behind my impatience is a sense of my own mortality? It could be. I'm not one of those cool hip people who talk about how they're prepared to die, how they've lived a great life and if they are destined to be plucked from this world, this life, then so be it. Oh hell, no. I am pee-my-pants terrified of dying before my time, and my time will be when I'm about 110. I don't want to die. I don't want to leave Alexandra and Todd, I don't want to die before having more children, before hopefully publishing my story, before spending all the time possible with my family. I want to kiss Todd four million more times. I want to cuddle with Alex until my arms ache from holding her.

I'd like to go to Disneyland, too.

So, if a sense of one's own fragile claim to a little plot of life here on earth, of how trembling and tenuous and brittle that claim is and how easily it can be blown to dust by even the flimsiest of breezes, if that is the reason behind impatience, then should it not also be a reason to try to attain a more patient outlook on life? Because while I love multi-tasking to save time, I also spend an awful lot of time detached from the present, and thinking about all the stuff I have to do later in the day. To-do lists haunt me, even though I love them. I'm constantly thinking ahead to what needs to be done.

Like, in this short series of photos, what was I thinking of? At least I know what she was doing while we took these photos. Apparently what I do when I take a photo of her is this: I take it, then flip the camera around to look at the photo of Alex, and go "Oh, cute!" because all she did, after every time I took one of these photos is grab the camera and go "Oh, cute!"

But where was I, where was I really? Was I thinking of making dinner while cuddling with Alex? It was taken on the 24th of January, a Tuesday. So I know that I could have been thinking of that triathlon run through I did the very next day. Or was I thinking of Kendra's wedding, which was on the 28th? I don't know but I am fairly certain my mind was partially elsewhere.
One thing I've realized since having Alexandra is how heightened that sense of my own mortality is now. Once we had Alex, it became clear that my time, our time, from here on out really, was primarily for the raising of our child(ren - one day). I do not mean that in a bad way at all, either. It was a revelation that sort of floored me when she was about six months old. I remember on family walks, talking to Todd about it, talking about it with him over dinner, in bed with the lights off. It's not bad, though, it truly is a good thing.

Children are miracles and blessings, so it's an honor. The torch had passed from me to Alex. I had been raised, taken care of and then when I hit adulthood, I took care of myself. I was my number one goal, I was my favorite body, as Todd would say. Now, that's changed. Alexandra is our number one goal and most certainly our favorite body. It's perfect for snuggles.

But while that torch had passed and while I'm honored and blessed to spend the rest of my days caring for my children, helping them grow strong and confident, nurtured and yet independent, it also means that my own time, time that is absolutely 100% about me, is over. And, not to sound melodramatic, but just truthful, that takes me one step closer to the other side of the veil, so to speak. And that scares the shit out of me.

The other side to this coin, though, this coin of Children Making One Aware Of One's Own Mortality, is how a growing child makes it so vividly clear how quickly time passes. It's terrifying, almost, and how it literally is like trying to grab a handful of sand and keep it in your fist: impossible. It will slip away from you. And now it's no longer marked by changing hair styles, new fashion trends, another Christmas to look forward to. It's nothing so vague, so sneak-up-on-you as that.

Now, it's growing out of clothes in two months, it's learning the alphabet in one month, it's being able to reach stuff on the bathroom counter, it's saying "Oh thank you!" all of a sudden, it's a vacuum bag, four feet tall and two feet wide, full of baby clothes that no longer fit, it's a baby gaining a sense of humor and a sense of self, it's a toddler brushing her own teeth or trying to put mommy's bra on or hanging all by herself on the soccer goal at the park because challenges are her bread and butter:

It's all these little things. These little victories, these little markers of a life that moves entirely too fast for my taste. Not just for the tombstone that marks its completion, 78 years in my future (God that's too soon), but for the baby that I already miss, because she's such a little person now. Every time I find myself at work thinking of my work out, or at the gym, thinking of making Alex dinner, or making her dinner thinking of tub time, bed time, my own shower, our own dinner, etc, I realize that while I'm thinking of something else, time is literally flying by. I'm losing time by trying to fill it up with other things. I'm missing out on my little girl when my head is elsewhere, or if I'm trying to cuddle her, watch Wheel of Fortune and fold socks all at once.

I'm not sure if I'll ever be a truly patient person, or become less frenetic in my own skin so that I may sit and do one thing only and be fully present for it, but I do hope, at least where my baby girl is (and hopefully future children are) concerned, I will make sure to stop everything, clear my head of all the other stuff, and be in the moment. To marvel at them, to devote myself to them in the little minutes as utterly as I've devoted my life and my calling to them.

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