I’m Running Out of Time

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Six fears of mine:

1) Frogs.  They freak me out.

2) Something terrible happening to my kids or my husband.

3) Aging.  I know every year is a gift and I want many of them, but I’m still not looking forward to the physical process.

4) What the future holds for my son Barrett (who has autism), especially after I’m gone.

5) That I’m not a good mother.

6)  That I’m running out of time.

For this week’s Mama Kat’s Writers Workshop, we’re supposed to list our top six fears and then select one to write about.  Lucky for me, I’ve been successful at avoiding frogs.  I can’t write about something happening to my kids or husband, because I can’t go there.  Aging sucks, I’m fighting it, and that’s probably all you need to know.  Barrett’s future is a big question mark, and some of those questions relate to fear number six, as do my fears about mothering. Time is the gift that gives and takes away, dammit. 

“We don’t have an eternity to realize our dreams, only the time we have.” – Susan Taylor

When they say youth is wasted on the young, I think maybe one of the references is the abundance of time that we so take for granted as children.  We have all that energy and do nothing with it.  When I was kid, I couldn’t wait to grow up and it seemed to take forever.  The school year would just drag on and on.  Now, as a grown-up, the old cliché rings true – it all goes by so fast.  It seems like yesterday I was putting my last baby on the bus for his first day of kindergarten, and as of this writing, there are only twelve days left in the school year.  I am freaking out.  I don’t even have our summer road trip plans finalized.  Time is like a handful of sand – the tighter you grasp it, the faster it runs through you fingers.

I had plans last August – big ones.  Once and for all, I was going to get the house organized, be efficient with my time and proficient with my writing.  I’m batting 0-3.  I know I did accomplish a lot this year around the house, at school and with my writing.  Important and good things, but they don’t seem significant when compared to the goals I had:  Finish all the baby books, make more time for my loved ones, finish my manuscript.

Last weekend I went to the wedding of an adorable twenty-six year old couple, who are riding the wave of eagerly optimistic newlywed bliss.  I didn’t know whether to marvel at their joy, or hate them for just getting started on their journey together.  They have the luxury of time, because everything is in front of them.

I was a late bloomer and I feel like I’ve been playing catch-up since I was ten years old, when we moved from Cape Cod to Florida.  I had to find a new group of friends, just as I was beginning middle school.  Then we moved again and I had to get acclimated to a new neighborhood.  I was small, shy and immature for my age and everyone passed me by – in height and hormones.  Sometimes I feel as though I watched my friends go through high school as an outside observer, not as a participant.

I didn’t have a boyfriend until I was nineteen.  I switched colleges, majors, jobs and addresses more times than I care to recount.  Constantly spinning my wheels, trying to figure out where I was supposed to be.  I was planning to do everything I wanted – travel, relax, read, date lots of people, have fun – after I completed what I considered to be nonnegotiable.  I had to get through the semester, or work the extra hours, earn the degrees, move to a better apartment, pay off my bills.  There was always an excuse, because I thought I had time.

I was one of the last of my friends to get married, and then we had two babies by our first anniversary – I was in hurry, I had catching up to do!  I checked everything off my imaginary to do list, conscious of the fact that time was marching on, but naively thinking that I still had a fair amount left.  Does that make sense?  Before I completed one goal, my thoughts were already onto the next one.  The added pressure of having a child with autism amplified this overdrive.  Always trying the next therapy, looking for the key to unlock my son before it was too late.  I should add that during the rush to build our family, I also had a couple more babies.  Check, check.

I was shocked when I turned forty years old (how did that happen?) and I concluded that it was now or never – I was at a milestone, and it was time to meet some goals.  I completed a triathlon, I took a major road trip with my kids, I started writing again.  As I focused on my own aspirations, my mommy heart began to split.  My nagging panic crystalized into the realization that my time with the kids was also running out.  The choices I’ve made about my writing, taking care of myself, the kid’s schedules and their entirely reasonable demands for my time all contribute to my racing heart.

Don’t get me wrong, I do want to volunteer in the classroom.  I want to take them to extracurricular activities and see them develop personal interests and strengths.  I adore the people they’re becoming and treasure being with them.  I want to help with homework (but could do without the “projects”) and read to them every night.  I want play tennis and croquet and Sorry and do puzzles.  I bet you think I forgot about my husband – I haven‘t.  I want to have grown-up, alone time with him, too.  I love to travel as a family, but miss going away with just my husband (the last time was a funeral).  I want to go to Europe, hike Machu Picchu and surf in Hawaii (while I can still wear a bikini!). I want to do so many things, and I am literally running out of time, no matter how I measure it:  by the hours, by the week, by the year.

Ever since the untimely and sudden death of my younger brother last year, this fear that I’m running out of time feels like a vise on my chest that sometimes literally squeezes the breath out of me.  I think it’s why I’ve been reading books such as, I Dare Me and Some Nerve, and embarking on my I Dare Allie project – because I know it can all just end.  Quickly and with no warning.  I cannot afford to waste any more time.  The fact that I’m the last surviving member of my family is a crushing weight, because I feel an intense responsibility to live, to really live, and not take one second for granted.  Yet I suspect that this frantic need to live may also be sacrificing the quality of my time by making it barely manageable – and that terrifies me as well.

I fear running out of time, but I also fear dying without having some of my dreams as a mother, a wife and Allison fulfilled.  I hope and pray that I can get out of my own head and my own way in time to do it all.

So tell me, what scares you?

 

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24 thoughts on “I’m Running Out of Time”

  1. You are very brave to put those out there like that! I’m okay with the frogs, and oddly enough the aging. But yeah, #2 gets me all the time, and like you I just can’t go there. Good luck with getting things in. With God all things are possible (if we listen to Him, anyway!)

    visiting from Writer’s Workshop

  2. Wow. I love how raw and honest this entry is. I especially liked your comment: “I didn’t know whether to marvel at their joy, or hate them for just getting started on their journey together. They have the luxury of time, because everything is in front of them.” You are an incredibly talented writer. I can so relate to this article. I struggle with the exact same things. I think the important thing is to be present during the time you have with your children and your husband. Make that time deliberate. I’ve had to let go of a lot of things (baby books are put on the very back burner) because there just aren’t enough hours in the day. And in the end, will the baby books be significant to them or are the memories we’re making more important? We all do the best we can every day. And something tells me you’re doing a much better job than you’re giving yourself credit for. Hang in there and keep writing these beautiful entries!

    1. Leigh, thank you so much! I agree that making memories is more important – I need to stop obsessing about documenting them. I guess I just want to have proof, if they ever complain about how horrible their childhoods were, ha, ha.

      I hope you’re having fun on your get-away.

  3. Frogs…reminds me of my dear son who was working on earning his reptile and amphibian merit badge for scouts…guess who had to walk into the laundry room and see a very large frog staring back at her from behind a very thin glass enclosure…ugh! I can still see Thaddeus and his bulgy eyes!

    stopping by from MamaKats

  4. I relate to this so much. I feel, at 37, that I’m really starting to come into my own with the writing and I wish I could do more with it . . . but I also fear spending too much time with the computer instead of LIVING and that includes spending time with my family. That said, the nonstop driving to activities, etc, can really get me down. It’s hard to balance. I feel the pressure of time on both ends–that it’s slipping away too fast and that i don’t have enough of it to do EVERYTHING.

    1. I know, I couldn’t help but think, as I was writing this post, how it also could be a blog about the fantasy of Mom’s doing/having it all. It just isn’t possible, where do we draw the line? And yes, I’m afraid if missing out on the important moments of my children’s life, but the thought of them being grown and gone and I’ve got nothing else – I don’t like that either.

  5. Your loss has no doubt heightened your awareness of how short life can be. I hope that awareness will become a more comfortable reminder to live each day to the fullest without the painful edge is has now. Wonderful post.

  6. This is so beautiful and important, and should be read by all. I am in my second (and last, I hope) marriage. I got married at 29, got pregnant, miscarried, and got divorced. It was YEARS before I married again (I had just turned 38), and had my son two years later. I look back at some of the years in my youth when I didn’t take care of myself, and during a particularly dark time, actually thought it would be more fair if God took me instead of a mother of young children. Now that I am 45 and have a 4 year old, I am TERRIFIED of dying. I hate aging, and would like to know what you’re doing to combat it (I’m allergic to Botox), but I’m so so so so afraid of leaving before I know that my son will be okay.
    Beautiful and heartfelt post, my awesome new friend. I love it.

    1. Kristi, you blog about the Botox was hilarious. I am sorry that happened to you, but I appreciated the laugh. I haven’t tried Botox – yet. Right now I’m just trying to exercise consistently, eat right, sleep – and laser treatments on my face. It hurts like hell, but it does help. Thank you for your kind words, I am so happy we found each other!

      1. Laser treatments? Do tell! I’ve been thinking about Restalin because I’ve heard it’s less likely to be an irritant than Juviderm, but laser sounds interesting! And yeah, the Botox allergy thing sucked. 😉

  7. Yup, I can definitely relate to the running out of time fear. I too had a big loss a year ago (my mom) and then my youngest son (now 10) was diagnosed with a serious illness, so I completely understand now how life can change in an instant. I am nearing the big 5-0 (gasp…though I’m clinging to 48 until later this summer) and I feel as if I’ve done NOTHING important with my life, other than raise my sons. I want to accomplish more than being a parent and make a difference in this world. I’m not sure what that will be — my writing, my blog, my volunteer efforts, or maybe I’ll even go back to work and get a “real” job…all food for thought, but I’m ready to start acting on it before I’m too old and decrepit.:). Thank you for this honest post – it really makes a person look within themselves and confront those pesky hidden fears.

    1. Thank you Emily. I just read your beautiful later to you mom. I think losing a parent (or a sibling) and the decade of our forties is the perfect storm to ask these types of questions! Wouldn’t it just be easier to go out and buy ourselves a sports car?

  8. The fear of running out of time is also a very real one for me. Losing loved ones is another one. I hug and kiss my husband and my children every time I leave them for that reason–just in case it’s the last time I see them. I fear is real. I hear you on that. And not knowing what the future holds for our children? Gosh. I wonder about my son all the time. Thankfully, he impresses us a little more every year. Glad I stopped by and read you and that you stopped by my blog.

    1. Thanks Teresa. Yes, the question of the future is one that I try not to think about too often. I’m happy we’ve been able to connect through Mama Kat.

  9. I love how completely honest you are in this post! I don’t necessarily feel like I’ve been playing catch up since I seemed to have started everything so young…getting married, having kids, all of it. But the last several years, the older I get…it gets harder! My oldest is now a teenager, it’s like I blinked and there he is! Where has the time gone?

    1. I know, my oldest is now thirteen and it does freak me out – in five years he’ll be gone! To quote Gretchen Rubin, “The days are long, but the years are short.”

  10. I found my first gray hairs the other day and wanted to crawl back in bed. I don’t want to be an old lady. How come we can’t be rewarded for our hard work with the gift of extra youth?

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