So often we get stuck in the minute trials of life that we forget that it’s all fleeting. We get buried in the deliverables and career paths, tantrums and to-do lists, routines and skirmishes, tantrums and developmental timelines, carpool and never-ending laundry that we lose perspective entirely.
Then, a moment strikes us back into reality. We realize the beauty of the moment — this very moment — and the speed with which time is racing. We pause amidst the surrounding churn and process the impermanence of it all.
Everything is temporary. The pain, the joy, the fun, the challenges, the frustrations, the worries, the celebrations, the sleepless stages, the adorable phases. All of it — good and bad, fretful and consoling — is fleeting.
We must remember that as we go about our days, toiling (simply for money or for personal aspiration) and/or raising our humans and growing ourselves. We must remind ourselves that no matter what pain or sadness, worry or frustration, anger or embarrassment we are feeling, it is not forever. It will end. We must too remember that the joyous, beautiful, precious, balanced times are not permanent. They too will end. So we must savor them. We will experience pain and comfort, mourning and elation, and that is natural. It is good. It is all good.
We must simply survive and savor, honoring the balance and minding the impermanence of life.
I strolled seaside yesterday morning, as I did the day before, nursing my littlest in baby carrier in the hopes of lulling him into a nap. It was a blustery day. A constant rush of wind and salt beneath the sun.
The surf was rough, waves rolled on top of one another crashing into the shore. Their force carved a sharp ridge in the sand separating beach-goers from the tide. The wet sand was worn to a steep incline making my walk a challenge.
Usually I aim for a more energetic pace but this day I knew slow and purposeful would be the wiser choice. Small waves crashed and I walked through easily. Larger waves pummeled the shore and required me to stop entirely, focusing on remaining firmly planted as the water swelled around me before returning to the sea.
I realized life is like a dangerous surf. Like the sea, never is our experience entirely placid, wholly calm without ripples. Just as our walk in the sand, we will never travel the same path twice. Our steps are washed away as soon as the next wave arrives. Our journey, like the sea, is ever-changing, and so are we.
Like the waves of a dangerous surf, life constantly presents us with hurdles — big and small — and we must choose how to respond. Do we stand still and wait out the swell before resuming our course? Do we force our way through and risk toppling? Or do we change our path entirely to avoid those hurdles only to gamble on what other obstacles will arise? It is not the tide that makes the decision for us. We are the ones who choose.
Yesterday we were at our local summer concert, enjoying music and the evening sun. Then, a familiar sight that makes my heart thump and my smile grow wide: my eldest two children happily running toward me from across the concert lawn. Heavy breaths through broad smiles, arms outstretched to envelop me in their sweaty hugs, their sneakers pounding through the sun-warmed turf. I saw it.
I saw how different my middle son was from last year. The change from 2-year-old to 3-year-old was striking. He’d lengthened, his face was leaner, his body was taller. I looked to my daughter, bounding toward me, her face more beautiful now than cute, just days away from her 5th birthday. I felt the weight of my 1-year-old in the carrier, no longer the newborn peanut he was last summer. How much they’d changed in just a year! My eyes grew misty and my throat caught.
We have only one summer each year with our children, the next they will be older, bigger, more independent, less mommy-centric. Interests will be different, maturity and skills will have advanced, they’ll push further from us and deeper into the outside world.
As exhausting and tumultuous as the days can be, as wearing and patience-testing as this young stage is, it only happens once. We only get THIS summer once.
Soak it in. Commit it to memory. Smile. Laugh. Enjoy it. Next summer will be entirely different.