One of my favorite quotes about parenthood is "the days go slow, but the years go fast."
When my son was an infant, the days would drag on and on. I was (and still am, to a certain extent) a nervous parent -- constantly second-guessing whether I was doing what I was "supposed to be doing." Was I giving him enough tummy time? Was I giving him too much screen time? In all this neuroses, time ticked by slowly.
I'd even resent when people would say things like, "Enjoy every moment, it goes so fast" because I wasn't enjoying every moment, and it certainly wasn't going fast. When my son was first born, I struggled with postpartum depression and the shame that went with it. The days moved at a snail's pace as I waited until the late afternoon when I would start to feel like myself again. In the morning, I was teary, despondent and felt hopeless. By 4 p.m., it was as though a switch went off and I felt like my normal, upbeat, energetic self. After getting help, medication and returning to work, time sped up a bit.
When my son was 16 months old, my husband and I separated quite abruptly. We agreed on joint custody, and although I had regular breaks, I found this all-or-nothing parenting to be manic and overwhelming. I'm ashamed to admit it, but sometimes, I wished those days away.
I just wanted to get through my allotted parenting time, and I resented having to do it alone. I wanted to fast forward to the part where I had a fabulous new man in my life and could recreate the nuclear family I thought I was meant to have.
But, that didn't happen quickly and, looking back, I'm actually really glad it didn't. I hope to have another man in my life at some point, but for now, it's just me and my little man.
Our home is just ours. There are two toothbrushes and two towels. There are lady's shoes and little boy's shoes. There is whole milk and soy milk. It's just us.
Recently, I was speaking with a friend who also got divorced when her children were young. They are grown up now, but she remembers with great fondness those days when she was alone with them. "It was the most difficult time in my life," she told me. "But I miss the quality time I had with my children. It was different being home alone with them before I started dating and eventually remarrying. I cherish those memories."
Now that my son is four, time has sped up for me. I still hear the ticking of my neurotic parenting mind occasionally, but it's not quite as loud. Our days together are packed with play-dates, activities and outings, and one weekend quickly rolls into the next.
I know that I'm going to turn around and he'll be 18, ready to leave home and go off on his own. I hope, by then, there will be another pair of men's shoes to round out the collection in my home. But, for now, I am relishing the special time I have alone with my son.