Monday, November 8, 2010

The passage of time

I have been thinking lately about the intense emotions that washed through me during the days and weeks after my son was born last year, and wondering whether they will return with the birth of our second: coming home from the hospital and sobbing at the dining room table, utterly unable to imagine how we would make it through the night together; a very literal and physical feeling that my heart would break in two if anything happened to my son; and most poignantly, a sharp awareness of the inexorable passage of time.

The latter feeling, which has necessarily dulled over the past year - or how could I have ever returned to some semblance of my pre-baby life? - made the deepest impression on me. It was a piercing sense of mortality, a sorrowful realization that every day that passed, my baby was different. The baby that I knew the day before was never to be seen again, and my memory of him in that state was fading quickly.

At the time, my husband pointed me to Shakespeare's 126th sonnet (and this week's poem in the left hand margin), which perfectly captures the tension between nature's beauty and ephemeral time. Upon re-reading it this morning, I am again comforted by it's wisdom.

In some ways, I miss that poignancy, and I wonder where it has gone. To be sure, the cocktail of sleep deprivation and hormonal swings that defined those early days and weeks played a big role. Now passed, many things seem more manageable, not just grappling with the relentless progression of infant development. Perhaps I have learned to suppress it myself in order to cope and carry on.

But every once in a while, I think it is healthy to reflect and embrace the sorrow of time passing. It serves as a reminder to embrace every minute, to take in the vibrancy and color of each passing scene, to be grateful for the miracle of young life and the ambivilance of early parenthood.

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