Sunday, May 31, 2009

Gone in a Blink

Just watched a "Sunday Morning" feature on the anniversary of two political and cultural events: the massacre at Tienanmen Square, June 3, 1989 and the debut of the Seinfeld Show, May 31,1990.

What strikes me about these two wildly divergent items is the passage of time. Where has it gone? How did twenty years of my life disappear "in a blink", the Anthony Hopkins line from "Meet Joe Black"?

Kids. I've been raising kids for the past twenty two years. That's where it went. Or is it?

My husband and I continually marvel at the time lapse between what we remember and when it occurred. Often when a little piece of history comes up, we cannot believe it is ten, twenty or thirty years past. Attending my 40th high school reunion last year was a reality check. Actually, it was more of a bitch slap. With apologies to Oliver Hazard Perry and Walt Kelly, "I have met the aging Boomers and they are me." The deaths of family and friends brings me up short. It's all so fleeting. Yet I take so much for granted.

As a caustic individual who sees irony in all things, I love to say, "Kids suck the life out of you and then they leave." While they're doing that, you're trying to live your life and theirs. It doesn't leave time for much else. Since the boys have moved out, I find myself able to concentrate on other things: politics, writing, blogging, reading, volunteer work. If I didn't work full time I just imagine what I could do! However, that will come.

This contemplation of the last twenty years makes me somewhat sad. I feel as though I've missed something or stopped paying attention. It's bittersweet. After all, I had my children and they are wonderful. I miss my children's childhood. I was present but was I as engaged as I could have been? There's a part of me that feels I should have taken life slower, paid more attention, taken work less seriously, enjoyed child rearing more, savored the moments.

Yes, all the sugary sentiments do make sense. "Take time to smell the roses" or they'll be will indeed be "...gone in a blink."

18 comments:

Pop and Ice said...

My 16 year old just called to say she's going to a concert this afternoon, on her Dad's time (my ex), because I grounded her on Friday, so I'm not feeling that reminiscent love at the moment. I'm wanting to reach through the phone and strangle her like Bart Simpson! But I'm going to take a deep breath, sit on my front porch and imagine a quieter and more peaceful time to come.

Minka said...

Tienanmen Square! I just heard about the anniversary last night and said the same: Twenty years! That sounds so incredible! My sweetheart agreed, but we both knew, of course, that that is the way time flies.

I had my kids young (at 20 and 24) and now when they're almost grown up, I also have mixed feelings about the childhood going too fast, about the freedom their independence is giving me and also about something I'm missing here: Now what exactly am I going to do with it?

Lover of Life said...

I really related to this post. I feel so fuddy-duddy when I tell new parents to enjoy - it goes by fast. But it really does go by fast. Have you noticed that when they pan out from concerts on television - it's all gray haired people in the audience?

Minka said...

Oh dear! It's already June tomorrow!!!

Susan said...

My "baby" will be 28 in September! It seems like yesterday that she was the same age as her 3-year-old daughter, and yet sometimes it seems like a lifetime ago.

I think we all experience these bittersweet contemplations. Especially when our parents are gone or getting much older. Then we realize we are our parents and there's nobody there for us to fall back on.

Baino said...

You've struck a deep chord here I think. Mine are grown but still at home and despite wanting some of my personal space back, I'm actually very pleased that they're still here to keep me company and give me a reason to cook a meal each evening! I was so busy as a single parent raising two kids and working full time that I too often wonder whether I did the 'right' thing by them. They seem well adjusted enough. I'm going to pay more attention to things from now on.

Brian Miller said...

great post. this came to life for us this weekend as we broke out the photos from the last 13 years...time flies. you only get one today, what will you do with it?

JGH said...

Lots to think about here -- especially the notion of being present but not engaged. My kids are 8 and 11 so I'm still in the thick of it and wondering what the future will bring. Will my husband and I ever be able to have an "impulse" to go out again? Everything requires so much planning just to take a few hours away from the kids! See look at me - complaining away! Then I feel guilty -- in a few years I may miss it all.

California Girl said...

Pop: Oh, the nights I felt that frustration and anger towards my non-cooperative kids. I would really erupt when they played the Mom vs Dad game. You know, I'd tell them "No" and they'd go around me to ask the same thing of Dad as if we'd never spoken. Both ends against the middle.

Minka: After having my sons in my mid-thirties, I realized we are SUPPOSED to have our children young. It's our only defense! And, btw, you'll find plenty to do with your newfound freedom.

LOL: I've been going to concerts again myself and the majority of attendees are older. A big part of that is the cost of concert tickets nowadays. Nobody young can afford them and that is a shame.

Susan: I look forward to having grandchildren. I think it will ease the ache in my heart tremendously. I've heard a saying that, paraphrased, says "Once our parents are gone, we can never be children again."

Baino: I know what you're saying. My youngest just moved home for the summer in order to save enough money to move cross-country. I don't know how long it will last but I'm glad to have him home for now. If he'll just keep his room clean and his clothes off the floor!

Brian: Are you going to write about it?

JGH: I hear you and I thought nothing would ever be normal again. I complained all the time because I was tired, cranky and couldn't understand why there was never enough time. You'll get through it. Try to enjoy it more. You'll never be sorry.

.pink said...

Great Post!!!
Yeah!...a whole twenty!! Never thought that I'd be able to subtract twenty years off of my age and still have a {handsome} remainder :-)
...Time...a long time passing...

California Girl said...

Thank you Pink. Glad you're looking forward to the next twenty.

mouse (aka kimy) said...

boy, I hear you...I have such a problem with the whole time-space continuum!

geez in just a couple days, my baby is turning 30!!! oy, how did that happen!!!!

California Girl said...

Hi Kimy: Congratulations on having a 30 year old "baby". Mine are turning 21 & 22 this year and they are still unseasoned, as it were.

Tanna said...

Yes, California Girl. I feel your pain. This decade (50s) has been a real gut check. How could I have done better? What did I miss?
How do I not miss out NOW? Staying present, aware... probably includes not wasting time on worrying on what could have been... and, just as before, I miss my opportunity to focus on the present... =) Carpe diem.

PS I know what you mean about the "golf women." LOL! Fortunately for me, there are none of those in my circle of golf buddies. LOL!

Auntie, aka Dog Girl said...

Hello,
Of all the posts I've been reading today, THIS post had the biggest impact on me. The notion of "where did all those years go?" freaks me out, esp. as I count the years in my much anticipated retirement (5 yrs to go).
Thank you for putting into words the very same things I've been mulling over.

Spiritual Journey said...

"I miss my children's childhood. I was present but was I as engaged as I could have been? There's a part of me that feels I should have taken life slower, paid more attention, taken work less seriously, enjoyed child rearing more, savored the moments." I think you're just looking at this in hindsight but when you were in the heat of action, I'm sure you had done your best given the circumstances you were in. I have a 7-year-old and 21-months old kids and no matter how much people remind me to cherish and savor every child-rearing moment, sometimes, because the flesh is weak even if the spirit is willing, when I get tangled with earning money, disciplining them, doing household chores in between, taking them to enrichment activities, not to mention nurturing my relationship to my husband, etc, I barely have time to breathe and sleep, so introspection on special child-rearing moments takes a backseat, probably, in my subconscious while asleep. With all these I've said, thank you for the wisdom you've shared.

California Girl said...

Ms Journey- you have touched me with what you have to say. Thank you and good luck. It is so hard when you're in the midst of it, as you now are and as you realize. The realization of this will keep you from missing it. This I know. Again, thanks for your response.

California Girl said...

Auntie: when you stop and realize that something was 10, 20, 30 years ago, and it just seems like yesterday, it is a mind freak. You are welcome. I think about these things a great deal.

Tanna: my fifties are uncomfortable because my physical health isn't great. I am surprized when I wake up feeling good which makes me all the more cranky about time passing. Well, you probably have an idea of what I mean.