I'm running out of time.
I feel it.
This obligation to rush. This overwhelming, breath-holding, heart-pounding compulsion to squeeze every last thing into every last moment before that timer buzzes.
I vaguely remember the early days when time was at a standstill and weeks dragged on, one to the next. When every day was full to the brim, but never seemed to end. When change was slow and steady, and growth was measured in ounces and months. And when, more importantly, the only real obligation was to ourselves and what we wanted this life of ours to look like.
Fast forward through all those ounces and all those months...fast forward through pounds and years.
Fast forward to today.
Today, in May.
Fifth grade but a month from ending. The first "graduation" on the horizon. Puberty rearing its melodramatic, emotionally-unstable head. The infant-toddler-little boy-big boy swallowed up by this man-child. This ever-changing creature that I don't yet know...made up of all those recognizable pieces but somehow, suddenly, reassembled into a stranger.
The old familiar is disappearing. I say goodbye to a little more of it with every passing day. I feel as though I'm trapped inside of a living pulse of heartbreak.
For what I now realize was too brief a time, our whole lives were each other. His needs filled mine, as my lessons filled his. We were a team of two. One solid unit. Family.
That clock has been ticking all along. Time marching steadily, stealthily by.
I have been his whole world. He has been mine. He is my whole heart.
But 12 years have come and gone. I am being left behind. Pushed aside to make room for new people, new experiences. He is my whole world, and my whole heart...but I am no longer his.
The clock keeps ticking. Now I hear it...the inexorable pulse drumming away underneath our day to day. At 2am it pounds in my ears. At 4pm it spurs me on, as I struggle to cram as much quality time into each available minute as I can. Homework gets in the way. The schoolday is my enemy. I'm running out of time, and the obligations keep mounting. Projects and essays and work and phone calls. Appointments and bedtimes and arguments and illness. I want to yell STOP! Loudly, angrily, silencing the chatter. I want to push the pause button and hold off the inevitable for another 12 years. I want to rewind, and live it all over again in slow motion. I want to savour the childhood and the child. I haven't had enough time yet. I haven't had my fill. I want so much more.
He is my whole heart.
I can feel the walls of the box closing in around me. The one he's pushing me into, though he doesn't even realize it. I have gone from occupying every nook and cranny, every inch and mile. I have gone from being so much larger than life. I have gone from being the framework of his whole world. Slowly, I'm shrinking to fit as he unconsciously builds the walls that will be my future. It aches, this shrinking down. It's tight and rigid, and hard to breathe. I went from being everything to something. The box keeps getting smaller. Soon, I fear, I will be inside the box. And the box will be placed high up on a shelf. "Mother", it will read in black Sharpie ink. It will sit there on the high shelf as part of the collection. Just another of the many bits and pieces that make up his whole, full life.
I'll live in that box, observing but removed. No longer his go-to person. No longer the answer for every question, the comforter for every pain, the soft place to land. I'll become the back-up. The fall back on. The cherished memory. The old faithful. The obligation that gets in the way of freedom.
He'll be my whole heart. But I'll just be a piece of his.
I'm running out of time, and I don't want to do as I must. I don't want to take my rightful place in that box. I don't want to become an observer in his life. I want to remain an experiencer, right in the thick of it.
I'm running out of time. Time to enjoy the last moments of his childhood. Time to impart wisdom and humor and grace. Time to relish in being his favourite person. Time to be his cherished Mami.
The clock is ticking. It seems to speed up each day. Everything is getting in the way.
I want so much more for him than just myself. But I want nothing more for myself than just him.
The time will come, and I will do as I must. I know I will. Because I want his life to be whole and full and free. I will do what every good mother before and after has done or will. I will sever the ties and smile as I wave goodbye, hiding the agony inside where he can't see it. I will watch my whole heart go off into the wide world and pray that he keeps it safe from harm.
But just for now, I want to tighten those knots, double up those ties and bonds. I want to hold on with both hands and stretch out every moment to its limits. I want to be a part of it all. I want to answer the questions and comfort the pains and be his soft place to land. Because I know it's almost over. Time is fleeting. Soon I'll only have the memories.
I'm running out of time.