I don’t think I had ever paid too much attention to time until we had Madison. I mean, sure, I had to be at work on time and things like that, but my life did not revolve around the clock until Madi was born. Then it was: she needed to be fed every three hours, changed regularly; bedtime was particularly important and so was naptime.
There were also activities equally important but more of a long-term set up. Signing up far enough in advance for preschool, orientation for elementary school, choosing an instrument for middle school, and a myriad of sign ups for high school. And all the while, simmering in the background was the plan for college.
My one rule for vacation time has always been to remove my watch immediately upon leaving for vacation and reluctantly putting it back on upon my return. It always felt almost like a shackle.
Most people have something that fascinates them. I know there are people who look for angels in ordinary things; there are those who ponder the meaning of everyday events. We are all probably fixated on something slightly profound in some form or fashion. Mine seems, more or less, to be time. Time with a capital T.
It certainly has a fickle nature. Some days it flies, and on others it creeps. When Madi was little, someone told me “The days are long, but the years are short.“ The days were so long. She was constantly in motion, and it felt like I was always tired. Now I look back and wonder where those days went. How can I have an adult child when it was just yesterday that we sat in the grass looking for, and finding, four leaf clovers? Just a minute ago we were snuggled up in the sunroom listening to rain on the roof.
In addition to the idea of relativity, I very recently have been living Newton's third law: action and reaction. For every action in nature there is an equal and opposite reaction. For example, the amount of force your foot puts on a ball when you kick it, the ball puts the same amount of force on your foot. I really think this can more or less apply to us emotionally as well.
As much as I dreaded Madi leaving for a semester abroad, I equally anticipated her return. Right before she left she told us she would be gone 100 days. Somehow that seemed so much more manageable than 3 1/2 months or 14 weeks. Days. I could deal with it because it was only a handful of days.
To be honest, it wasn’t as bad as I thought it was going to be. She communicated regularly, and we were very busy with work. As I bustled through each day’s long to-do list, my mind was occupied. The next day’s list immediately built up as soon as I checked off the current day's work, but I was unaware that I had unconsciously started a countdown for her return in the background of my mind. When there was one week left, I got a little antsy. I thought about it more often, and I got more excited. The day of her return was ridiculous. I didn’t know time could move that slowly.
But now the 100 days are over, and she is back home safe and sound. I used to think time was only measured in months, weeks, or days, but I know now it can also be counted in heartbeats. Mine are a little calmer and steadier since she came into view at the airport, and I’m breathing a little easier.