Saturday, July 20, 2013

Where the Time Went

Unmistakable blue eyes in a grainy, dusty photograph:  probably one of the last processed from loaded film.

It's all digital and undeveloped now.

I swore I wouldn't miss anything:  his Elmo obsession, his dislike of thunderous fireworks, his hankerings for pancakes drowned in thick syrup, his need to throw. Even in the house.

He's a teenager now.

His row of musky deodorants and steady text chimes compel the question every parent asks aloud:
Where exactly does the time go?

Despite all its ticking precision and pealing bells, time is one flighty mother.

The same twenty-four hour increment sometimes stands still, sometimes drags its blistered feet or sometimes barrels instantly away.

Singed memories dwell inside all of us, recording our longest days, our suspended minutes, our swiftest decades.

They all gently warned me, too, when they swarmed my house the first time I brought my swaddled son home.

Enjoy every minute, because one day he'll be a teenager.

At 28, I witnessed the time-strewn wisdom in their eyes--the longing to return to days of Dreft-smelling receiving blankets and furled infant fingers tightly wrapped around extended adult pinkies.

Through the involuntary smiles in his sleep ("that's just gas") and projectile-vomiting spells, I could never imagine he'd ever be thirteen. Or require deodorant. 

Yet we have arrived.

And I know damn sure where the time went.

Somewhere in the negative space of a harried mother's life, those moments of self-reflection spot me and invite me to remember.

It is there that I can again see that little blonde boy peeking out from his angular adolescent face.  He still swirls his wafer cone the same way he clumsily ate soft-serve at three. 

It is there I still feel a twinge of his attachment-- the way he dug his terrified hand into mine the first day of preschool.  He leaves me happily now, but still bears the vestiges of our bond with that same look every time I drive away.

Time didn't just vanish underfoot while I wasn't watching. It traveled alongside of us--during the Halloween he dressed as a Starbucks Frappuccino, when he crumbled on the pitching mound at eight, when we devoured freshly made Nutella-filled crepes on a Parisian Street, when we collected chalky clamshells on long beach walks, when he demanded to hear Norah Jones' voice.

Snapshots of some of the purest joys I will ever know.  Moments of perfect love.

For him, perhaps his adolescence will be one of those stretches when time suspends itself for lazy backyard baseball and long fishing afternoons.  Or maybe time will flash before him and swallow him with the rigors of sports, academics and the shifting ground of social pressures. Only his perspective will answer that.
TIMELESS:  Classic Black Valentino
Jewelry-Bow Couture d'Orsay Pump.

These days, I reside somewhere between the silhouettes of time's negative space and the blinding light of its present.  Through the barbed back-talk and slammed doors of adolescence, my firstborn is evolving into his own skin.  Into manhood. A raging transition for both of us.

I know there are moments I must let go of his hand and leave his door shut while simultaneously keeping mine thrust open.

There are moments that I need to listen to the crackle of his new voice.

I am so blessed to know where the time went.
If only it would stay awhile longer.

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