"Don’t wish away time” is a very mom thing to say. When my boys can’t wait for the next fun thing to happen or to be old enough for a new privilege, I lecture them about enjoying now and appreciating today for what it has to offer. I realized that I’d ingrained this message a little too well when my then 10 year old son and I went on our annual mother-son trip to Six Flags Great America this summer. While dealing with Chicagoland traffic, we had a very grown up conversation from a childlike perspective. We were reminiscing about all the fun times we’d had on our past trips, when my wise-beyond-his-years firstborn articulated something that I’ve often felt throughout my life. He said, with more than a hint of sadness in his voice, ”Mom, I just want to freeze time. I want to stay this age forever. I love my life, and I don’t want it to change.” He continued to say that he knew it wasn’t possible, but he wished that time could continue to seem like it was moving forward, but he’d stay the same age, his family would stay the same age, he’d have the same friends, go to the same school, we’d live in the same house - - all the things he loves about his life would stay the same.
First of all - parenting win, right? My son was happy, and he wanted to live this time in his life on repeat. Not in a Groundhog Day movie kind of way, but in a way that he could still have new experiences, make new friends, and go new places, but the core of his life would stay the same. I knew EXACTLY what he was talking about. I’ve felt this way so many times during my life - as a young child, a teenager, and as an adult. We’ve probably all said it, “I wish could freeze this moment”, “I wish the kids would stay this age forever,” “I never want to grow up,” “ I want to live this day over and over again.”
Before I threw myself a party for being an awesome parent that helped to create a happy life for my kids, I had to also realize that my son was sad. He said out loud what most adults wouldn't admit. The future is scary, and even though we know we have to move forward, sometimes we just don’t want to. Sometimes we are literally so happy that it makes us sad! Sad to think of the future which may not be as happy, sad that we will miss the things we have today when they are gone. This sounds like such a good problem to have, and seems inconsiderate to even talk about because not everyone feels as happy as we do a. But if he and I have both felt this way, maybe others do too, and it’s worth exploring.
"The future is scary, and even though we know we have to move forward, sometimes we just don’t want to."
He had just put into words how I’d felt since he’d been born. Each age was so much fun, he was so cute and sweet, I could control his environment, he was healthy and safe, and I just didn’t want him to get any bigger. But then he inevitably would, and then THAT would become my favorite age - and that repeated over and over again. If I really could have frozen time when he was 2 years old, think of what I would have missed! (and all the not-so-nice parts about having a 2 year old that I would have to repeat...) And what about the people in the world that weren’t happy, or even worse, weren’t safe or healthy at the point in time that I thought was so good I wanted to live it over and over? Would I want to inflict pain on others just so I could live perpetually happy? No, of course not.
But when I do think about time marching on, it can be terrifying...Will I live to see my grandchildren? Will my kids find love or will they get their hearts broken? How long will my parents live? Will there be war and violence in our country? Will my family be in a car accident? Will I get cancer? When? If you let yourself go there, the questions can be endless. It’s wise to think about the future, and prepare yourself for what could happen, but it’s not all gloom and doom - you must also look ahead at what good things could possibly happen. I’m a big proponent of positive thinking, laughter, and daydreaming (there will be a whole post about the power of the daydream soon!) Happy thoughts make us happy and the opposite is true. Let’s acknowledge how we feel about today and about the future giving at least as much time to what GOOD could come while also being honest about our reservations and fears. This helps to increase our self awareness which gives us the ability to look at our lives objectively and make changes or retain habits to increase our happiness in the future.
Up until this point in my parenting journey, I had felt like I’d done a pretty good job, but right when we were having this conversation was when I realized I was totally winging it! THIS is why I want to freeze time, so I can protect my kids from fear or sadness. Since I know that’s not possible, I tried to say something wise that my son might be able to quote in the future: Since it’s scientifically impossible to freeze time, we should freeze the happy moments in our minds, by taking pictures and videos, writing down memories, and talking about our happiness with those who make us happy. We should also look for opportunities to turn sad and scary moments into happy moments for others so they want to freeze those moments, too. We can do this in person, though giving to organizations that can create change, or through prayer.
I’ve learned over the years that there’s a happy medium between wishing away time and wanting to freeze it. I love now, but it’s not all I have. I have the past that I can think on fondly and remember what I’ve learned from it, but I also have the future that I can dream about and look forward to.
I'd love to hear your thoughts on the subject and tips you have for appreciating the past, present and future. Leave a comment below!
A woman with many roles in life who knows the necessity of keeping things in order!