“The trouble is you think you’ll have time.” This was a recent quote from my friend and superior columnist, Mandy Fabel. She credited Jack Kornfield’s “Little Buddha’s Instruction Book” and it’s stuck with me for the last two weeks.
I’ve written about time in past columns — my inability to manage it, my efforts to cheat it via procrastination, my optimism that ends in tardiness, why time speeds up as you get older. Today’s is a bittersweet twist on time.
First though, my brother told me my last column was the first one that didn’t have any humor in it. We can’t have two of those so let’s start with a smirk. On me, of course.
A friend recently told me her husband accused her of trying to fit 10 pounds of stuff (a more specific word may have been used here but this is a family paper) into a 5-pound bag. I nodded cluelessly then went straight to Mike for a translation. Turns out, it’s something I do far too often — trying to cram way too many tasks and expectations into way too little time. Then wondering why I’m so tired, snarky and have angered my family. It was a moment of clarity.
It turns out I cannot clean the house, iron the linens, polish the silver, make the food, arrange the flowers, set the table, take a shower, dress and do hair and makeup all the morning of Thanksgiving before greeting my guests with a smile at 1 p.m. Do you know how many years I tried that? Do you know how many years Mike and I had a shouting match on Thanksgiving morning like clockwork? Do you know how much wine I swilled? Not pretty. It took me years to get a clue and a grip and start earlier. Like two entire days ahead of Thanksgiving.
What a concept!
Now to the bittersweet. Mandy used the Buddha quote in reference to the waning time our Leadership Wyoming class has left. It was sobering and sad. We’ve met almost every month, even through COVID, since September, and have monthly Zoom meetings too. We’re a tight group and with 40 of us, there’s never enough time to spend with every person you want to. Next month is graduation here in Sheridan, we have one more make up session in June, and plans for a get-together in Cody in August but you know how it is. Real life intrudes. Work schedules take precedence. Without a monthly, three-day commitment on the calendar, priorities shift. And as we looked around at each other, we felt the weight and reality of that. Sob.
The same is true in our family. Will is headed to Western Oklahoma State College on a calf roping scholarship. We couldn’t be prouder of him or more excited for all the experiences he’ll have. Those experiences, however, will be 14 hours away from here. He’s my firstborn and when he went to kindergarten, I took the day off and cried when I dropped him off. This might be more difficult.
No one will argue that parenting is a slog. The pooping, the crying, the whining, the attitude, the sullenness. And that’s just the teenage years! (Kidding. Mostly.) There are days you wish would just be over because they won’t eat/sleep/be potty trained/dress themselves/feed themselves/stop with the why questions. But every stage is a great stage — they get funnier, smarter and even funnier to be around. And then they’re gone. To kindergarten, to their first sleepover, to the DMV, to prom, to college.
It’s all over too soon and your baby is gone. Your ending is their beginning. Nothing will ever be the same.
The trouble is I thought I’d have time.