Unlocking the Mystical Power of Time

Robert Couse-Baker
(photo credit – Robert Couse-Baker, Flickr Creative Commons)

My eyes fluttered open and light poured through; morning’s illumination.
It must be late. The baby stirred and called for me – which is still, for her, a plaintive whine. I look forward to the day she calls “Mama!” cheerfully from her crib. Soon, maybe.
I greet her, dress for our morning walk a little quicker than usual on account of it being late. As usual, Luke is already awake. Has been for hours now. My early bird. I offer him juice, but there’s just a splash left in the bottle. When I mention buying more while out on my walk, Luke wants to come, too. ‘But you’ll have to walk fast’ I warn him. ‘This is for exercise.’

Time is a mysterious construct. It went slow when we were kids growing up, and flies by now that we’re watching our kids grow up. Indeed, we don’t understand it really, but we still make it cliché somehow:

Time flies (when you’re having fun).
Time will tell.
Time heals all wounds.
I need more time.
It’s the quality of time, not the quantity.
Do you have time?
Give it time.
How much time you got?

Sara Lando
(photo credit- Sara Lando, Flickr Creative Commons)

A five second time-spot with my kids this morning looked like this:
Me: Luke, would you like eggs?
Luke(7): No, just toast.
Me: How many pieces?
Luke: Four
Me: Four?!

A five minute time-spot with my kids today looked like this:
Me: Seth, Luke thought you should have something like a nightstand to arrange your things on. What do you think?
Seth(5): Uh…I don’t know…the toy chest was there.
Me: We thought you could put that in your closet. Here you could put a cup you’re drinking out of, or keep your wallet in this basket, or arrange little decorations…
Seth(smiling now): And my Kermit pillow pet can go on the second shelf, and my other stuffed animals can go down here, and…

The walk took about thirty minutes. Sunlight beamed down on our faces, and I told Luke how nice it is for him to get some exercise and sun this morning instead of staying inside watching tv. He doesn’t want to be tan, he told me. He skipped ahead, showing me he could be fast. For exercise. ‘Do you recognize the path now?’ I asked him. ‘It’s the reverse of the way we usually go with Dad.’ Stepping onto the bed of pink flowers covering a span of the path where the sidewalk begins, he smiled, remembering. “They look pretty.” I always smile, too, thinking of God rolling out the pink carpet for my baby princess and me.
Luke starts to crack jokes. I laugh. We’re at Target now. “Oooh, I want gummies! Oooh, we need chips!” he darts from item to item, too excited. ‘You’re shopping hungry! We have chips at home. Just the juice.’
We wander the aisles.
‘I like you!’ I blurt out proudly. Then –
‘I mean I love you, of course, but I like you, too! You’re fun to hang out with!’
He’s beaming.
‘I can see how you make friends so easily.’
He prattles on, even noting “I talk a lot, but I like it!” Not insecure. Not holding back. Just being him.
Leaving Target, he picks something up off the ground. “I don’t think the squirrels are going to like eating nuts anymore!” He holds up the shiny silver nut. I laugh. He tells me a scene from the movie that was his source material for that joke. He cracks a few more and I’m in stitches.
“I love that my mom is laughing so much she can’t breathe!” he says, skipping ahead again.

Mom friends have confided in me that, at times, it’s hard to like their kids.
I have been there, too. I remember it now, as I’m laughing hysterically at him. How that year he struggled so much in school, just before we pulled him out of that place, all of our time was a struggle. We spent every day, almost every moment punishing, even pleading with him to change whatever made him *not* fit in at school. I worked in those schools. I was embarrassed. Why couldn’t he be easy-going, not fight with yet another kid? Why couldn’t he make friends? Why couldn’t he get dressed in the morning without throwing a tantrum and begging not to go? It took an entire summer to heal our fractured relationship.

It wasn’t the passage of time that helped my son and me. It was time together. Half-hour spots. Hour-spots, and so-on. The same is true with my middle child. In a 30-second or 5-minute spot it’s all business; breakfast, lunch, clean your room, get your swimsuit on, get in the car. He has accidents still. Oh how easy it is to spend most of our interactions in scolding, scowling, grumbling about the extra laundry and bordering on not liking him.
It takes a little more time to play a couple rounds of Uno and realize he’s brilliant at it. Lately, he loves to play this game where we take turns telling the next part of a story we make up together. It takes so long, sometimes…”No, the story’s not over, Mommy!” he’ll plead.

Anyone who’s been in a romantic relationship that ended has heard “we just grew apart.”
People change. If you’re married, you know you can’t let time lapse – you have to keep connecting every day somehow. The same is true with kids. I can’t imagine the pain of my son turning thirteen what seems like tomorrow (the way time goes) and not knowing him.

Time. It’s something God gave us.
He also gave us each other.
He asked us to love each other above all else (in addition to loving Him).
I can’t help but think the purpose of one is to serve the other.
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