It seems like ever since we found out we were having a baby, our entire focus has been on the future. We busily prepare for the future arrival of our baby, anticipate what she will be like in the future, and even imagine all of the things we will do with her in the future. It can sometimes be hard to focus on the now, which is why we are trying to make time for ourselves and enjoy our last days of freedom before our lives change drastically. So on Friday night, in spite of my strong desire to fall asleep early on the couch, we decided to go on a date. (Sensing the nearness of freedom themselves, my fourth grade munchkins had been particularly draining this week, but I took a nap and pumped myself up for a fun evening out with my husband).
We decided to do a twist on dinner and a movie. Downtown Charleston shows free movies in Marion Square park each spring, where families, couples out on dates, teenagers, and people with their dogs all gather together to set up blankets and chairs and enjoy a movie on the big screen. Food trucks arrive to sell their mouth-watering and innovative dishes, and the scents of fried doughnuts and confederate jasmine fill the air.
We were very lucky to catch their last film of the season, “Back to the Future,” which was ironic and fitting given my current state of mind.
I’ve been thinking a lot about the future- the nature of time, and how things can seem to come back yet are always moving forward. The other day, I gave my fourth graders the assignment of writing about where they see themselves down the road, and who they want to be as adults. It reminded me of when I was in their shoes, sitting eagerly at my desk, ready to leave fourth grade forever and become an elite fifth grader. And I thought about how I would have responded then. Has my life turned out the way I hoped and imagined it would when I was 10 years old?
For the most part, my answer is yes. I became a fourth grade teacher (something I wanted very badly at the time because I adored my fourth grade teacher, a pretty young woman named Mrs. Gardner who assigned creative projects, let us do science experiments, and even got us a lizard for a class pet, which we named after Wren from Wren and Stimpy- not my first choice, but it was a democracy after all). I am happily married, with a playful and loyal dog, and a baby on the way. I live in a house with a fenced-in yard, surrounded by pretty pink rose bushes. I may not be living next door to my sister and best friends, but all in all, I’d say time has been pretty good to me.
I think having kids in particular makes you think about time in a way that you never did before. Everyone says that it goes so fast. Too fast. And I believe them, because for us, it already is. Just a little while ago our baby was barely a whisper of an idea, created out of practically nothing, barely the size of a strawberry seed, and at 34 weeks pregnant she is now the weight of a cantaloupe. Pretty soon she will be a living, breathing person, and one day an adult herself. Children grow from tiny creatures that are created from you, into their own people, capable of their own amazing creations. It all happens in the blink of an eye, and it is sad, and heart breaking, and beautiful, and awe inspiring.
I’d like to say that I can’t wait to see what the future holds for us as parents, and for Penelope in her own life. But really, I can. (Pregnancy hormones aside, I am bawling like a baby even as I type this). And even though I will not be able to slow down her growing up anymore than I can speed up her getting here, I will try to savor every precious moment along the way.