Sunday, January 24, 2010

The Days are Long, But the Magic is Momentary

To me, the most resonant of Gretchen Rubin's Four Splendid Truths is the third one: "The days are long, but the years are short."  Indeed, as far as this mother of two is concerned, truer words have never been spoken.

For the past couple of weeks, I have really been feeling that "long" part of the equation.  I find myself wondering far too often if I can get away with wearing an article of clothing a little bit longer or if it's too saturated with spit-up or mucus or [insert child's bodily fluid here] to be acceptable. (This was not an issue that came up all that often in my professional life.) Moreover, the boys seem to have worked out an arrangement to nap on alternating schedules, guaranteeing their mommy 14 straight hours of non-stop fun!

And the truth (splendid or otherwise) is that I'm not so good at days without downtime.

But then yesterday things got a little better. Tiny Baby napped well. Big Boy napped well (despite the best tag-team efforts of a neighboring power tool, the FedEx guy, and the medevac helicopter). Some of that napping happened at the same time. I read a blog post I really liked. I found time to talk to E on the phone.

And one of those magical moments happened and it reminded me of why we do this work - and it is work; inasmuch as it's a gift, an honor, a privilege, it is work - of parenting: minutes after his bath, Tiny Baby had what we at the Motherese household affectionately call a "poop blowout." Because of this blowout and his general preference for a clothes-free existence, he was sitting on my lap in a diaper alone. Big Boy was sitting next to us eating graham crackers. Tiny Baby then sneezed dramatically; Big Boy looked at him and burped thunderously, as if in retaliation. The noise of Big Boy's belch startled Tiny Baby. He flinched, knocking his fist into Big Boy's cracker and breaking it. A shard of cracker landed on Tiny Baby's naked stomach, setting Big Boy off into peals of laughter. Tiny Baby, in constant adoration of his big brother and eager to show off one of his new skills, echoed Big Boy's giggles with his own.

There we were, three couch potatoes, covered in graham cracker crumbs, laughing the day away.

And it occurred to me: the days may be long - sometimes they may even feel endless - but the magic is momentary. 

Are you good at seeing the magic in the Everyday?  
Image: Graham crackers by oskay via Flickr under a Creative Commons license. 


  1. No. I am lousy at it, and writers like you help me in my earnest quest to improve. I agree that that is the most splendid of Gretchen's splendid truths - I had heard the adage before her and it has always cut so close to my heart as to make ME flinch, as Tiny Baby did.
    Thank you for reminding me this morning of a very magical moment.

  2. I use to think I was very good at it. Maybe I still am but sometimes, it is harder than it use to be.

    Thanks for the link to Gretchen's splendid truths. I have yet to pick up her book - though it is on the list - and missed that post.

  3. I so needed to read this this morning. "The days are long, but the years are short." How true.

    What a great reminder to breathe deeply and embrace the days of naptime revoltes and toys scattered across the kitchen floor.

    Thank you.

  4. It's one of the things I really appreciate about myself. In fact, I rely on my silver lining/joy in the moment trait to get me through. Recently, I was analyzing that very characteristic and wondering why it's so "easy" for me and not for someone else. I had a bit of tricky/unsettling childhood (or as my husband will say, "Go ahead and say it, Jane. Your childhood sucked!) From a very young age, noticing the magical moments, savoring them - would sustain me until the next one arrived. It was survival.

  5. Jane's comment makes me wonder if our experiences as children make it easier or harder to appreciate the sublime moments with our own children. I had a relatively untroubled childhood and now have trouble embracing these moments; Jane's experience seems to be the opposite. Hmm...

  6. I like to think I am good at this. But I've gotten even better as my kids got older. Maybe because sanity is a little easier to come by at that point.
    I love how you described this moment with your sons. I could just see you all laughing, and feel the coziness and warmth.
    Lucky boys!

  7. I agree with Nicki. Those magic moments are harder to hang on to as the years go on, and they continue to drag and fly at the same time - that particular (not always so) splendid truth.

    I will agree to the privilege aspect - and certainly, the constant learning (at any age or stage) from Privilege of Parenting. And perhaps, the simplicity of perspective, renewed each day, best we can, often through the power of words.

  8. It's tough to remember to love the moments... you know I write about that alot - because I need to remind myself. The other thing I keep telling myself is - these kids didn't ask to be born. We made a conscious decision to have them. And that normally kicks me back into gear ;) One of those tough love with myself things, you know?

  9. Sometimes I surprise myself, but usually I'm too busy chugging away at the tedious details to stop. It's a terrible flaw and I need people like you to kick me in the butt sometimes.

  10. Sometimes we must stop and live in the moment. Thanks for sharing that link.

  11. So, so beautiful, Kristen. And even now, with my daughters 11 and 13, I struggle to be present, mindful, aware of the fleeting moments. Your call to such is profound. Your sons (and my daughters) are the recipients - even as I will surely fail but know above all else their beyond-belief ability to extend me grace. That, gratefully, does appear to be endless.

    Thanks, too, for the link to my post! More gratitude.


  12. I see the magic in the everyday, almost too much, the writer in me connecting this and that till I see themes, just like I see themes in literature. But just when I want to sit around and think about it, to ponder it, it's gone. We're older, the kids are older, more magic has come and gone. Really, it's only the writing that ever reminds me of the magic.

  13. I laughed out loud when I pictured this (and being old school, I thought I spell out the whole LOL thing). The magic is indeed momentary, but at least it's not monetary.


  14. Sometimes I do it great, other times not so much. Remembering to look out for the magic helps me find it more often.


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