Your pace or mine?

Two months after we got married we moved house, two weeks after moving house my wife phoned me to tell me she was pregnant. I feel as if I haven’t paused for breath for almost three years.

Being a parent, being a new parent, being a first-time parent, being a working parent, trying to be a good parent, it’s exhausting. Whether they’re lying, gurgling, in their own poo, or ascending the bookcase, they demand, need, deserve 100% of your attention.

Like the man said: stop the world, I want to get off.

It’s not that I want more time to myself. I get that on a train plugged into my music four mornings a week, oblivious to my fellow travellers all doing the same.

What I really want is to slow down, is to stop. Physically, mentally, spiritually. To feel like I’m not waiting to do something, not needing to think about something or simply not to be so self aware of a world and a tiny percentage of its inhabitants that demand my attention.

The answer is, as answers occasionally are, right in front of me: running down someone else’s drive way, pulling flower heads off out of their garden, picking up gravel, stooping to look at dog poo and cigarette ends.

To move at your child’s pace, to move in your child’s time is to move in distracted wonder, unfettered by having to be anywhere whenever.

It is to take an hour, even two to complete a twenty minute journey and to wonder at the end if you had rushed things.

It is to let go of any urgency and drift aimlessly on whim and fancy, revelling in a scrap, a stick, a sound, and where any road is worth meandering down at least for now.

It is to move at a speed driven by interest and playful rhythms.

You start to feel as if this is a lost art, a muscle memory from thousands of years ago, a way for us all to reconnect…

…whilst still having to divert them from getting too close to the road or falling off bridges. I guess even when you do get to stop, you never stop being a parent.

Just another parenting anomaly in the space time continuum to deal with…

I think there’s this thing called parent time. It’s the way as a parent you experience time completely differently from anyone else including other parents who are also experiencing the same thing but completely differently from you. It is particularly virulent for parents of toddlers and young children and may decrease in severity over time but as yet I have no concrete evidence.

Parent time is like taking the concept of dog years and putting it through the crazy crash zoom in Jaws.

So a normal month of real time feels like a day of parent time and a real day can have moments of fleeting eternity, usually accompanied by the sound of screaming, and many minutes of laughter and play that are only able to register themselves as a split second on your consciousness.

A year of parent time is equivalent to a blink in real time but two years of parent time (rounded up or down) are a blink within a blink. That’s like half a blink I guess, or if you like to cook then a small pinch.

When you operate in the outside world there’s a further momentum effect at play so the moment you step out of your door the missing time kicks you square in the chops like a wrecking ball swinging from its highest apex.

If you decide to do something stupid and and entirely incompatible with parenting like holding down a job or a home or friends, then no matter how long a real day might be in parent time, or possibly how long a day of parent time might represent itself as real days which we’ve already ascertained are many, there will never be enough hours in the day.

If you don’t there still won’t be enough hours in the day, only they’re different kinds of hours.

It’s highly likely that you will also suffer from sleep deprivation at times in which case all the above rules still apply only in slow motion, severely intoxicated and in Klingon.

Time stand still

It’s been almost two years.

It doesn’t feel like it.

That means there are old friends I haven’t seen in almost a year, let alone spoken to.

It doesn’t feel like it.

When you’re waiting on baby to arrive all the other parents tell you how quickly the time goes.

They lied.

It goes way fucking faster than that.

There’s an old(ish) Rush song I’ve always loved. There’s a moment towards the end where Geddy Lee’s voice seems really urgent and full of emotion and I heard it again today for the first time in a while and it kinda broke me for a bit.

Summer’s going fast, nights growing colder

Children growing up, old friends growing older

Freeze this moment a little bit longer

Make each sensation a little bit stronger

 

Of course if you don’t like Rush then I just come across as being an over-emotional idiot with dodgy prog-rock leanings. I agree with the first bit…

Love those old 80s videos, never realised it was Aimee Mann who provided the backing vocals

Neil Young syndrome

Neil Young’s Year of the Horse album has a moment where someone shouts “They all sound the same.” Neil replies “It’s all one song.”

This is how I view the endless ups and downs of our son’s rattling coughs and snot streamed nose; it’s all one cold.