Tock, tick, tock, tick, tock.
That classic sound of time slipping away is announced by the grandmother clock above my mantle. A birthday gift from my dad two years ago. (Or was it three? Tricky time.) Somehow it’s wormed its way into my heart as one of the most soothing sounds in the world. If I can hear it, it means the house is quiet. The only other sound on this wintry afternoon is the hiss of the water pot we keep simmering on the wood stove. And the occasional slurpy sip of hot Yorkshire tea with a little cream and sugar—that’s me, being cozy. Every now and then I hear a shout or a note of laughter drifting from the yard, where my younger four children are at play, bundled up in snow suits, hats, mittens and boots of assorted colors. (I love that my boys don’t mind wearing pink.) Make it do or do without. There’s no snow on the ground today, just an inch of ice and sleet. It’s a make-it-do winter.
My older three children are upstairs doing their school work. When the younger ones come back in I will fix them some hot cocoa and we’ll read together on the couch and then they’ll do some copy work at the table. Maybe today I’ll break out the sewing machine and teach Blue to use it; she’s been asking me to. Denny is in the back working at his computer. I see an occasional flutter at the bird feeder outside the dining room window as titmice, nuthatches, chickadees and cardinals fly in for a quick snack.
But it’s mostly quiet. Stillness prevails. I am basking in it.
We must, as parents, you know. We must pause to note life's peaceful moments. Did I say parents? As people—with children or otherwise. Slip away from the children or send them outside, set the iPhone aside, turn off the TV or radio, find somewhere inviting and just be for a few minutes. Funny, we have to unplug occasionally to fully recharge. (For the record, I did spend at least nine minutes this way before I thought how nice it would be to write it down and grabbed my laptop.)
I enjoy the house at this moment with the awareness that someday the children will be grown and gone, the days more still and quiet than busy and noisy, and I’ll go about my days and nights with more time to remember how full of life it once was. Not that I anticipate the fullness going out of my life when my kids are gone--I have plans, ideas, hopes—but it will certainly be quieter and… different. I’ve read the mommy poems about the fingerprints on the walls growing higher and higher and finally disappearing. I’ve cried my share of sweet and bittersweet tears as I’ve watched my children play together, say the darnedest things, reach personal milestones, snuggle next to me on cold mornings and give me hugs when I needed it most. Childhood is fleeting. Time is fleeting. I’m neither in a hurry to see it pass nor longing to hold onto it. Sometimes I’m just incredibly aware of it. And in those moments it seems to stand still.
My mind snaps photographs, desperate to capture the moments. I take actual photos or write down descriptions if I’m able. It’s a process of observation, pausing to acknowledge my life, to memorize and appreciate it. I take the moments in and they shape me, help to make me who I am and who I will be. I don’t want to rush by them and end up at the end of the road wondering where my life went, you know? My house will likely be very quiet one day, but, if I’m careful to capture them now, it will be full of vivid memories. What’s more satisfying than the knowledge of a life purposefully lived?
Tick, tock, tick, tock, tick.