father time is a mother effer
Lately I’ve been contemplating the notion of time and its passage.
It could be the imminent end of the year, the closing of yet another decade.
Maybe it’s commemorating 25 years of living without my dad, and a week later, remembering what would have been his 75th birthday. Maybe it’s knowing he died a week before he would have turned 50, as M and I get closer to that age ourselves.
It could be that a certain couple I know just celebrated 20 years together. And they’re not even that old.
Perhaps it’s how time is marked every day by our daughter’s marvelous development. The passage of time is so apparent through the growth of a child.
Maybe it’s all of those things, or something else altogether.
Yes, twenty years ago this week, two young carefree kids spent a weekend together and, without a thought toward their future, enjoyed the present moment in a beautiful way.
M and I just celebrated twenty years together. Two decades. This astounds me. We chose the date for symbolic reasons. It wasn’t the first time we met (which was a few years earlier), or our first date (hell, who even “dated” then? you hung out, hooked up, etc.), or the first time we even had sex (no comment). Yet Christmas Eve 1990 was likely the first time we chose to spend alone together, free from commitments to others, without the presence of friends or family, with intention and without distraction. I was 21 and M had just turned 24. Twenty years. Together. Amazing.
This year I wept as I wrote and read our beautiful cards to each other, reflecting on the passage of time — the good, the bad, the wonderful. While part of me felt, well, ancient, mostly I felt so grateful to have met the love of my life with enough time for us to grow up together. And that we did.
Fourteen years ago, in December 1996, we celebrated M’s 30th birthday, his grad school graduation and new career. We had been married just six months after being together five and a half years. I was 27 years old and we were starting our new life together.
Nine years ago, in December 2001, just I was about to graduate from law school and begin a prestigious fellowship in my field, I was diagnosed with a grapefruit sized mass in my uterus. Just as we began to plan our family, I learned I might never conceive or carry a child. I was 32 as I prepared for the bar and major surgery, uncertain if we would ever become parents as we imagined.
Five years ago, in December 2005, I discovered I was inexplicably pregnant at age 36 after trying more than a year and a half for a baby. After being told by the top RE at one of the best clinics around that I was unlikely to conceive without yet another surgery, I was shocked to be in my second trimester. Sadly our bliss didn’t last long, as complications began soon after. Five weeks into the new year, our son was gone.
Three years ago, in December 2007, I was awaiting my first IVF transfer and hoping against hope that my last chance to have a baby would be successful. I was 38. One night in the midst of that we brought dinner to the hospital to visit the first newborn of my closest cousin. That month I also started this blog, which evolved along with my path to parenthood.
Two years ago yesterday, December 2008, a young woman who had become unexpectedly pregnant asked us the question that forever changed our lives. Until I heard our daughter’s voice, I had never heard words more beautiful than these: I would be honored if you would become the parents of my baby.
This time last year, we celebrated at home with our nearly seven month old baby girl. After extended leave from work to enjoy caring for our daughter, I was dreading returning part time. Yet our arrangement has been pretty awesome. This year M has been stay-at-home dad two days a week, when I go into the office. To add some hours, he works Saturdays, and I work from home two mornings a week with the help of a sitter. We’re doing what we need to do. Baby Jaye gets to enjoy both of us, plus she adores her sitter and asks for her by name often.
This time last year, my mother was at death’s door and we painfully said our goodbyes. Yet a year later, here she is, still, finding strength she never knew she had. Believe it or not, she’s actually planning a small New Year’s Eve gathering at her home. And a trip to Paris in spring. She is not well, mind you. No doubt her disease is terminal and her days are numbered. But she is living, in her dying. And that is inspiring.
This year I am overwhelmed and awed by the passage of time. As I get older I realize how truly lucky I am. I have a wonderful husband and partner. I have a rewarding career, even if I was more than ready to leave it behind awhile. There is much we don’t have, but so much more we do.
At 41 years old I am so grateful for this opportunity to be Mama to this amazing little girl. At nearly 19 months old, she challenges me to slow down and keep up at the same time, to be patient and present, always. She makes me smile and laugh every day. Somehow we are both helping each other grow into the people we are meant to be.
Wishing you all a happy, healthy new year filled with love and laughter, and of course the time to enjoy it. May 2011 bring you closer to your dreams.