The other afternoon I was steadying myself for an evening alone with the kids. My husband teaches a night class or has band practice three nights a week and he doesn't get home until after they are asleep. These nights when I'm solo parenting (after being the primary parent all day) have been a struggle for me, I'll admit. These long days can feel very...endless.
So there we were. I set up the kids with playdough and cookie cutters and they were busy for a while. I was in a foul mood as I often am on these long days. I grabbed my phone to look once again at the time, impatiently waiting for it to be closer to dinner time so it would be closer to their bedtime. I said to myself, "Well, that killed a half hour" and then I paused.
Killed a half hour. What a horrible expression that is. I killed a half hour. Killed a half hour of their childhood that can not be lived again. Killed a half hour of my life as a mother to two young children. It is gone forever and I killed it. Moments lost that I could have shared with them. Moments that could have held joy if only I had let it in.
And here I am, trying to kill it.
The amount of time I get to spend with my oldest as a four year old and my youngest as a one year old is finite. Never again will they be exactly who they are today and exactly the age they are today. Each year only has a certain number of days and a certain number of hours. A finite amount of time to spend with them them as young children. And to waste it? To try to kill it?
I don't want to kill time, I want to live time.
I will never use that phrase again. Next time I think it (because hey, I'm not perfect) I will gently remind myself to live time instead. It doesn't come back. You don't get a "do over" with time. In fact, as I get older there seems to be less of it and it seems to go by even faster.
From now on, I am choosing to find joy in these nights of parenting solo. Choose to live the moments. To pay attention.
To notice things like the fact that my youngest has only one sock on and the gentle way his feet dangle so comfortably. That he has on pants that I sewed for my eldest when he was a baby. How my eldest's babyhood seems so distant now as he chatters on about making (playdough) cookies for sale and if I will be his customer.
No, this is time I wish I could keep. And since I can't keep it at least I'll live it. And I'll never try to kill it again. Even on these long days. Wait, no, especially on these long days.