I found my watch this morning. It was right where I left it 3 or 4 days ago: on my nightstand, underneath a burp cloth and partially obscured by a yellow rubber duck with sunglasses. This is significant for a few reasons. First, it illustrates that I officially suffer from Mommy Brain (a nice way of saying I'm no longer playing with a full mental deck), because the nightstand is where I have put my watch every night for approximately the last two decades, and yet it didn't occur to me to look there until this morning. What's more disturbing is that I didn't really miss it, proof positive of just how much life has changed since the period B.C. (Before Children).
In the TV news world where I lived until very recently, the clock is king. Everything is timed and executed to the second. The 6:00 news will not be delayed until 6:02, regardless of how badly you need to use the potty. It's a place where a deadline is always looming, stories must be filed, video must be edited, scripts must approved before the clock ticks down. I would never have survived a day without constantly checking my watch, the clock on my computer, or the one on my cell phone. OK, both cell phones.
But now that I'm home with the little ones more than not, I'm finding that life moves at a very different pace, watches and clocks be darned. Simple tasks I used to accomplish in minutes (like leaving the house) can take upwards of an hour. And certain parts of life over which I once lingered now must be accomplished in a flash. Get in, get it done, get out is a mantra applied to showers, meals in restaurants, and most unfortunately, sleep. Time, it sometimes seems, is not on my side.
There are the days, hours, even minutes that seem to drag. The ones where I think if I have to play with one more toy, wipe one more nose, or change one more diaper I will lose whatever is left of my mind. And then there are the moments I want to stretch into years, the ones time steals far before I'm ready to let them go. The clumsy cuddles of a toddler boy as he drifts off to sleep. How could two years have passed so quickly? As I watch his eyelids flutter I find myself begging time to leave us alone. And my baby girl, the one who saves her best gummy grins and delicious gurgles for me and me alone in the middle of the night. When I look into her eyes I'm sure time is playing some sort of a joke- how is it possible she's just 12 weeks old? Surely we've known each other forever. Was there really a time without her?
Last night my exhausted little boy tried his usual pre-bedtime pleading, fighting off sleep even as it forced his eyelids to droop. "Mama, don't go!" he begged.
"Sleep tight my love, and I'll see you in your dreams," I told him as I tip-toed out of the room. Just let me throw away this watch and I'll be right there. I promise, we'll have all the time in the world.