Why does time go so fast when you are a parent? Seriously! The moment I had a baby and went on mat leave, a year became this stupid fast period of time in my life that passed before I even knew what was going on.
Does anyone else google these kinds of things, because I DO!
I’m not sure what I expect to find when I google random questions, but I cannot be the only person out there sitting there, waiting to see what will come back from the interwebs. I’ve googled this one before, and have been horribly unsatisfied with the answers, but tonight I was reading a new book and it all began to make sense.
What bought about a new book selection? Well, I recently finished reading Fast Girl, a true story about an Olympian who becomes a highly successful Las Vegas Escort (!) while living a double life with a husband (who knows) and daughter at home. It wasn’t the best writing, but the story was compelling and I crushed the book in 2 nights. I was just one of those fun, guilty pleasure, easy reads, so I wanted some depth for the next one.
So, random being my middle name, my next book selection was actually a smoking deal for the Kindle ($1.99 still on Amazon!) & a topic I’ve wanted to dig into for some time.
Almost every business person / thought leader I follow or admire speaks at length about the Stoics and the philosophy of Stoicism. It all sounds very fancy – the ancient greeks and romans, philosophizing and musing on morality. I’ve been intimidated for a while by Stoicism. I’ll admit with no shame that I dropped out of philosophy after 10 minutes in my first class in undergrad.
I stand corrected. Philosophy is so worth it. It answers questions like the above in a way that no mommy forum can. Sorry, Baby Centre, Moms Net and whatever other random boards I have come across.
I am REALLY enjoying the Daily Stoic – enough so that I will be ordering a paper copy and adding it to my side table. It has so many gems for maternity leave and life as a mama even though it’s usually a random business man you hear discussing this topic.My side table has a stack of books that have influenced me in a profound way, that I randomly pick up and revisit before
My side table has a stack of books that have influenced me in a profound way, that I randomly pick up and revisit before bed time when I feel like reading or need to muse on a particular topic or ground myself in a practice I feel slipping.
So back to the time thing. It’s been on my mind a lot lately, the question of why the f**** time is going so fast, how I blinked and I have 3 children, one of them is 4 going on 14. Why does it go by so fast? Is it because we are busy? or because parenthood is actually a gate to a parallel dimension and our tiny mortal brains just cannot figure that part out yet?
It’s been on my mind a lot lately, the question of why the f**** time is going so fast, how I blinked and I have 3 children, one of them is 4 going on 14. It truly feels like time is a bullet train and there are many moments where I am standing on the platform, head craned, the train of time already long gone, and all I can hear is a rumble in the distance.
Is it because we are busy? or because parenthood is actually a gate to a parallel dimension and our tiny mortal brains just cannot figure that part out yet?
Reading the stoics tonight, I got a pretty damn good answer to this question. See if this stuff makes sense for you below, I’d love to hear in the comments how it landed with you.
Parenthood, and especially maternity leave is SO MUCH DOING. Cleaning, cooking, adulting, parenting, all of it. It’s a physically demanding job. I won’t get up on a soap box because I don’t like parent rants, but holy shit, you don’t sit down on mat leave with toddlers and a baby. Personally, I far prefer it over sitting on my ass at a desk all day. I love lying in bed at the end of the day with aching legs and the satisfaction I worked hard.
But there’s an interesting thing about all of this doing. When you are wrapped up in all of the doing and don’t step back to just be, life ZOOMS by. Just like a bullet train, and the problem is that ou are dissatisfied. You are standing on the platform, feeling like you missed the train. You didn’t have a chance to hop on it, let alone marvel at the sleek silver carriages.
To slow time down and get on that train, so at least you feel like you are in motion WITH time, not totally missing the departure – there are two things you must, must do. These answers are inspired by the writings in the Daily Stoic & the stoic Seneca.
1.) At least once a week, make the conscious decision to let yourself just be. Skip some of the doing. Reconnect with yourself. Sit quietly. Ask some deeper questions. Journal. Consciously put aside something to just be with yourself. Think of this as a practice that will allow you to see the train coming as it approaches the platform.
2.) Give yourself a theme to this year. This is something I’ve been doing with each mat leave. I set an overarching theme. With each child on maternity leave, I can remember that year with much greater clarity than other years. This is getting on the train at the platform before it zooms off again. This is becoming aligned with time.
This second point may not be landing home with you yet. This is always the difficulty of writing – trying to frame a profound learning with a selection of letters tapped out on a keyboard. It hasn’t sunk in. So you know what, a really smart man named Seneca who lived thousands of years ago said it much better. Let me paraphrase below:
So you know what, let’s use some Seneca (a really smart man who lived a long time ago)
Your efforts need to be directed toward a bigger something, with your eyes set on that horizon (as well as in front of you.) It is not the “doing” or activity of daily life that drives people mad, but how we perceive all of our “doing” and the passing of time.
That speeding bullet train that is time is approaching the station. You’ll be much better able to anticipate it coming and get on it, if you know where it is going.
If your life becomes a churning force of “duty, busy, doing, going, running, doing, chore-ing, adulting” it is easy to lose purpose. How will you know what to do day in and day out? How will you know if anything is worth doing?
How will you answer friends when they ask how the previous week was.
Are you missing the bullet train of time and not actually on the train, just standing at the platform? Here’s a way to tell. You struggle to answer this question. Lots did happen but you didn’t really consciously decide to put a theme or goal, or meaning to the week, so it all just is one mass of blurry memories and time that has passed by, and you stand there, trying to think of an answer and say “oh, nothing much.” How will you say no to people’s requests if you don’t know what you are saving your time, your “yes” for? How will you go to bed at night feeling satisfied and fulfilled? How will you remember that year your toddler was 2 and your baby was new?
How will you go to bed at night feeling satisfied and fulfilled?
You’re certainly not going to answer the questions above as a busy worker bee. Sometimes you have to put things down, stop and set some intentions and some goals. That, friends, is the secret to slowing down life. Knowing where you are going in each month, quarter or year.
Indeed, life passes by at rapid speed, whether we are intentional about it or not. Whether we are conscious or not. The frantic pace and ‘busyness’ of life is how we become unconscious and realize with a shock the train has passed. To gain back time, and conscious use of it, take the time to “be” and connect with what exactly you want to get from the next few months.
To gain back time, and conscious use of it, take the time to “be” and connect with what exactly you want to get from the next few months.
And in the spirit of sharing, this maternity leave, this one wonderful year I have, is about rebuilding and repairing this lovely body that has done a lot for me and the kids over the last 4 years. There are other deep pieces of fulfillment I am working on and pulling from this year, and each week is bookended with some conscious reflection and planning for the following week. Otherwise, I fear I’ll go back to work in July and people will ask me about my year and I’ll simply say “it went by too fast.”
No… that’s not how I want to remember this year. It’s not how I want my life to pass through middle age and into later adulthood. I want to be on that train when it arrives at the station. And it’s coming down the tracks now.