Always Real, Makes Me Sigh

The View-Master

I wrote this in April and set it aside.

* * * *

These days, life seems to click past from weekend to weekend, holiday to holiday, school year to school year.  It is as though I am seeing my life through a View-Master.  With the click of the thumb, one season disappears from view and is replaced with another.  And then another, and another.

It is April. In another month or so, the school year will be over and we’ll look forward to lazy summer days, swimming and popsicles.  Click.  Then Father’s Day.  Click. Then Independence Day.  Click. And then Labor Day.  Click. And then back to school again.

I was almost 39 when we married and AD was 42.  We were both on the dark side of 40 when Sean came along.  And perhaps because we are older or because we came to parenthood in the 11th hour, time is the filter which sifts the meaning out of the mundane for us.  Time is our most precious and finite resource and informs our every thought.

The other day I watched a young woman in the grocery store pushing a cart with her baby in the seat.  I watched her stop the cart and lean in to rub noses with her baby and coo sweet round syllables to her.  I estimated her to be about 25 and I thought about how if she lives to be 80, she will get 55 years with her baby.  And I was a little envious.

If I’m lucky enough to live to be 80, I will get 36 years with my child.  I am so grateful that I ever got to be a mom. I am grateful for every single day, even the days when I cry and complain about how hard it is because I know that no matter how many years I get, in the closing moments of life as I am ushered off  into the shadow of death, if I wish for anything at all, it will be more time.

This right-now season that fills the frame of the View-Master, is especially vibrant and crisp and golden.  My eyes want to linger here, to stay just a little bit longer…


66 thoughts on “The View-Master

  1. I literally have goosebumps!

    I am desperate for more time with everything. I can’t even relate to the phrase, “Killing time.”

    I just want more time. For everything. Especially my girls.

    * * *
    Ironically, if you want to make the most of your time, you should waste more of it – waste it lingering longer in those sweet spaces of your day, waste it goofing off with those you love, waste it counting freckles or just sitting very still. Leave open space in your day and invite the unexpected into your life. That’s my theory anyway.

    I’m opting out of busy. I don’t want to have it all any more. ~AM

  2. Wow, thank you for this. I was a few months shy of 40 when Zeke was born, and this post really speaks to me. But for me at least, time has slowed down a lot since his summer vacation started last Friday. I get at least a couple of nice calm slow hours with him, every single day, and I’m savoring it. I know it will be over far too quickly….

  3. I am 39 and I feel the same way about my three years old son. I was not ready in my twenties but I wish I had started earlier, I have enjoyed being a parent so much.

  4. Awww…tears in my eyes – this is just how I feel!!! I am expecting my 2nd in December, and I know those first few weeks/months will be hard, but just today I thought of how time has flown for me with my 18-month-old, and how in just a very few clicks, I’ll have a different 18-month-old singing along with a 3-year-old in my backseat!!! 🙂 Thanks for the great reminder – wonderful post!!!

  5. From the time our daughters were toddlers my husband knew that he would be lucky to see them finish elementary school. He died three weeks after our youngest daughter finished 5th grade. I know that leaving them was the hardest part of dying. His physical pain could be managed, but there was nothing we could do with the pain in his heart. You are right AM, let’s take the time to take the time.

    After her father died my older daughter told me that she was afraid that she took her father for granted and that she would never take me for granted. None of us, no matter what age are guaranteed the next minute of our life.

  6. This made me so sad … I’m 45 and my daughter is 13. I’ve been thinking how few years are left for her to be at home with me, but I never thought about how many YEARS are left … my heart is aching right now. And I got a relatively early start at 32. I have not used all our years wisely, though. And I agree with you. I don’t want it all anymore. Just more time with her.

  7. I am not in exactly the same position. I became a mother for the first time a couple of weeks before my 27th birthday. My husband is 13 years older than I am, though, and he was forty when he became a father for the first time (and 49 when our youngest was born). I often think about this very thing. I think in many ways we cherish our time together as a couple in a way that people who marry in their early twenties don’t. Well, at least we got to the “time is so short” feeling sooner in our family because of our age difference, and his lateness coming into parenthood. He has to make it to 88 for us to reach our golden anniversary. I so hope we do!

  8. Oh dear friend, you are so good about living in the here and now – please continue to do that. I force myself to do the same, not to focus on what might or might not be. It’s not easy, and those thoughts seep through a million times per day and I shake my head to scatter thought thoughts, and go on with my world, even knowing they are reconvening as I do so.


  9. I’m in the same boat and I feel as though I see the shoreline in the distance.
    Mine is twelve now and I wish I could freezeframe as the script just keeps accelerating. There is nothing in life I wish for more of except time to spend with him.
    Having mine so late in life, I was told numerous times how I was spoiling him, I only want to squeeze in all the good times, life lessons and sense of love and security possible.

    And you know what? He hasn’t “spoiled” at all, he’s flourished.
    I know. Thank you. Thank you Antique Mommy.

  10. I was 36 when our first one came and our second one is 2-months old. My husband is four years older, so we were late getting started, too. We never thought we would have a family after nine years of trying. I find myself thinking more and more about the very same thing you wrote of today.

  11. I so deeply appreciate the reminders to be still, to take the moment in with every part of my being. Brennan is 5.5 months already and I have no idea where the time has gone. Thank you!

  12. Beautiful – I’m glad you dusted it off and shared it! Are you familiar with Brad Paisley’s song “Time Well Wasted?” It seems very apropo – Happy 4th!

  13. Your post captured exactly why I left my job as a reporter when I was blessed enough to have the opportunity to do so.

    I was 35 when JS was born, but worked full-time until I was 38. Each time I had to cover a weekend event or an evening meeting, I felt I was being torn away from my baby. I stuck with the career because I didn’t have a choice. Everything finally fell in to place three years ago and I joyfully went in to really early retirement.

  14. oh, I so relate to this! I had kids in late 30’s but I lost my mother at 17 so I thought my obsession with time with my kids was because of my fear of dying and leaving girls to raise themselves. Glad to know I’m not the only one that thinks about these things. Very well written!

  15. And the view master becomes electric and buzzes faster as they grow!
    I was 31 when son came. At 30 it was allright to be expecting but on my 31st we suddenly became high risk. I ask and it was because I had a birthday nothing else.
    WOW son will be 30 in December!
    Yours hopes and wants for them never change. Your ability to be with them and guide them w e l l that lessens a lot and suddenly the tables are turned and they consider themselves the caretakers. I suspect that role will greaten but I don’t like to think of it. Lets unplug the view master?????

  16. I had my kids when I was very young,I’ve had 35 and 32 years with them and it went in a flash, but I am a greedy woman, I have grandkids now and I want at least that many years with them. I’ve learned to slow down and capture everything they do and say and put it in my memory bank, something I forgot to do as a 20y/o mother.

  17. This is my life too. He is now 13 and seems to need me less and less each day. I know in my head that this is how it is supposed to be, but my heart is breaking. I want to see him go to high school, college, get his first apartment, get married and have kids. I’d like to know that he has become a man, independent. Yet I still want time to stop right now so I can keep him a boy for just a little longer.

  18. I had my youngest in my 40’s and these thoughts cause me much anxiety. My mother passed away at age 62 and most of her family died fairly young. I guess I always thought life was long, but as I hit 50, every minute becomes more precious and time seems to speed by more quickly. As you say, time really filters what is a priority and what is worth getting upset about.

  19. Oh my… I may not be able to visit this blog anymore. I get way too choked up and the tears are messing up my makeup!


  20. You have so much wisdom…I am only 28, and have four kids under my protection. I always wanted to start early, and I am grateful four the abundance of my blessings…it’s not fair, really, that I have so much.

    I love learning from your one-on-one time with Sean, and am trying to achieve a small fraction of that kind of time with each of my four.

    Your blog is more than a blessing to me. It’s a challenge, a reminder, and so very encouraging and inspiring. Thank you for making me stop and think more often than I would otherwise.

  21. My grandmother is 102, strong and sassy. She broke her hip last week and we didn’t think she’d make it. Wrong. She said she’s not ready to go yet. I have the gift of time with her so that makes me expectant. One never knows!

  22. Oh, this was beautiful and pulled at my own heart. I had my babies at 42 and 43. They are now 5 1/2 and almost 5. It is as if I am on superdrive, the time passes so quickly.

    Thank you for this post.

  23. Beautiful post. Thanks for the reminder to stop and enjoy this time we have with them. Why does it have to go by so fast?

  24. The bitter and the sweet. My daughter got her first pimple this morning. . .another click of the view master at our house. How I long to wisk her back in time.

    And, my friend, I wish for you Aunt Jean’s constitution and 56 (more)years with your guy(s). Stock up on the Snickers bars.

  25. I’m sure you already know this (and I understand your wishes completely), but it truly is more about quality than quantity.

    My mother had me at 45, when my oldest sibling–my only sister–was 20 years old. Cindy said she felt sorry for me for many years, because she knew I wouldn’t have as long a relationship with my parents as she would have.

    She told me this only once I was an adult, and then said she finally realized that I had been much closer to our mom and dad than she had ever been, and she was truly relieved to realize that the amount of years that I’d have them in my life truly wouldn’t matter.

  26. A viewfinder! What a great way of looking at it. So true. THis was a great reminder for me to stay on each slide as long as I can, esp. this summer when the kids are home. I am going back to work full time this fall and am really struggling with that fact. I was reminded today of a quote that I think is from Jim Elliot-“Let not our longing slay the appetite of our living.” So often I want to jump ahead or dwell on unimportant matters and not savor each click as they come!

  27. What a beautiful post. I worry so much about not having enough time with my girls, I worry so much that the cancer will come back and I will miss seeing them grow up. It terrifies me to think of them without a mom.

  28. Time does go by so quickly. When our oldest daughter left for her first year of college last fall, I didn’t realize then that she might never live at home with us again. I assumed she would come home in the summer. But she got a full-time summer job in the city where her college is located and stayed there. Big
    adjustment for Mom, who isn’t ready to let her go yet.
    Our younger daughter will be starting high school this fall. The years go by too quickly.

  29. You just captured my feelings exactly! I birthed my one and only at age 42 and I begin and end each day with a prayer of thanks for the gift of his existence.

    I do, however, believe that it’s more about the quality of the years together than the number of years. My daddy was in his fifties when I was born, and died just shy of his 80th birthday. But I was so blessed to have him for the 26 years I did!

  30. Dang girl, you made me cry!
    I love your blog. It always makes my ViewMaster slow down just a bit and I think about what I have.
    And for that, I thank you.

  31. Wow, great post! My kids have been driving me crazy this summer, but boy did this just make me realize I need to enjoy each day. I’m thinking I have another 36-40 years too. When you look at it that way, that is not much time at all!!

  32. Sean has his own little view master, and he’s going to grow up with a whole lot of really neat wheels. He’s lucky to have you and AD as parents.

  33. I was 20 when I had my son and 23 when I had my daughter. I now have 5 grandchildren. I thought by having them young that I would enjoy my grands better. And I do, but I also realize EVERYDAY how fast time moves by. Being with my littleones makes me want to go back and take more time and ENJOY my children more than I did. So I don’t think it matters too much what age you have your children, just remember to enjoy each moment as if it is a vapor in time, because it is.

  34. You are lucky to have figured out right away to treasure and absorb every single moment. Suddenly mine are 10 and 14 and I have moments when I *think* I can’t wait until they go to college… but secretly (or not so secretly) I know better.

  35. I think of this a lot. I was older than you when I had my son and I want so much to see him as a young man, a husband and father. But I don’t want to lose the little boy either.

    I have to live to be an old old lady.

  36. I worry about time as well. I am so happy with my husband and our family and I know that time is slipping by and soon I will be an old woman who misses what I have right in this moment.

  37. There is not much in my life that I have done “right”. I was a terrible student, unmotivated employee at times, a less than perfect daughter, and I still can’t balance a checkbook. But for the past two years I can finally claim sucess! I have been so lucky to have raised my son as I have wanted and I have savored every moment. No regrets and that is huge for me. Young or old, no mother gets enough time with their babies. There is always going to be more of his life I want to be there for. It does seem as he gets older it will get harder to keep things in balance. I appreciate your gentle reminder to hold on to what makes our life beautiful and precious.

  38. Oh, AM. I know exactly what you mean. With all that’s happened in our family and in the news these recent months, I’ve been spending an uncomfortable amount of mental time contemplating my own mortality. Sigh. I don’t ever want to leave my babies! But yes, my eyes and my heart are ever more strongly locked on them lately. I don’t want to miss a single click.

    P.S. Coincidentally, my big sister sent me a package out of the blue last week and in it were our old (forty-plus years) Lite-Brite and two View-Masters. What unexpected joy to hold those favorite, classic toys in my hands again and smell their nostalgic, unchanged smell, and see my sister’s little-girl handwriting on each picture disk (Wile dirds said one.)

    * * *
    Oh what an awesome package to get in the mail! You should write about it and post pictures. Nothing is more lovely than wile dirds! ~AM

  39. I hear *exactly* what you are saying. I was 43 when we brought our (9 month) daughter home. I too watch every moment and try to cherish them. Even the days when bedtime can’t come fast enough (she is SO flippin’ two right now … sigh 🙂 ). But, I am also trying to enjoy this time, as it will go so fast. I can barely remember the sweet tiny thing that was placed in our arms.


    Kiy @ RC&T

  40. Boy do I relate to this! DH and I married younger (30ish) but took a calculated risk at postponing having kids and started at about the same point you did.

    The good side of that is much of my impatience has already been lived out and it’s easier to slow down and watch my little guys laugh and learn and love because I really don’t have anything better to do.

    I don’t think (much) about how much more time I might have had if we’d started sooner because I have the feeling that I wouldn’t have had the sense to appreciate it then, so in some ways, it wouldn’t have been more time at all.

    Thank you for the lovely reminder how precious the days are.

  41. This weekend I got together with some of my elementary class buddies from Saint Nowhere, and oh how good it was to see everyone. But what a stark reminder that 34 years are but a blink of the eye.

  42. When my dad died it struck me how much longer my brother had with him than I did. I realized he was in his 60s when we lost our dad, and I was in my 40s. My mom was in her 70s when she lost her mom.

    But then I thought about how my hubby was in his early 30s when his dad died, and my friend was in his teens when he lost his dad.

    And I realized how very blessed I was to have my dad for as long as I did.

    We will never have enough time with our children. Never. We will always want more.

    But I really do feel that being older has made me appreciate them a whole lot more than I probably would have if I had them earlier than I did!

  43. I am “only” thirty-one but can so relate to the metaphor you used to describe the passing time. It’s dizzying how fast it goes.

  44. Oh AM I hope you, AD and the boy are on an awesome vacation somewhere. I miss you. Hurry home.

  45. Yet another touching post. You have such a way with words. I try desperately to cherish every moment I have with my precious gifts from God.

  46. I think about this EVERY SINGLE DAY. I count my days in how many I may or may not have left to spend with my son.

    I know that in so many ways this is not healthy, but I am a tiny bit jealous that the most precious thing in my life came so late. But who knows? Had he come earlier, I may not have appreciated that time, that stolen time, nearly as much. It is painfully ironic. I could live with less irony.

    And more time.

  47. You make me want to be an Antique Mommy. All I am going to get to be is a Great Aunt. I mean I am already a great aunt but it will be official when my only children, my neice and nephews start having babies. It makes me a little sad. So enjoy the heck out of the time you have. Tell the dust bunnies to quiet down and the laudry to wait and go play with your kid.

  48. *sniffle* tears in my coffee…

    I’ve had a REALLY difficult week with my three kids and just finished fussing at my 5 year old for consistently obstinate behavior and still, I want more time…

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