I Had Wished I Could Turn Back Time — Then Somehow It Happened
Published on Scary Mommy by MyVillage CCC Elke Govertsen, click here to read on Scary Mommy or continue below.
My sons are giants. They both tower over me, with fuzzy chins and upper lips. They are baby men. They move so fast and strong. Too fast. How often have I wished for a time machine to go back to when my teenagers were little? I longed to visit the age when we were together all day, every day. Back when wearing costumes was the everyday norm. The time when our entire world was the yard, some mud, and a hose. Back then all I had to do to make them understand their power was to pin a cape on their shirt, make them a snack, and throw on a band-aid. The complications have grown as they have, and helping them is much murkier.
As we near the end of my oldest son’s days as a child (104 days to be exact), the nostalgia and longing to return has been overwhelming. I’ve desperately searched for the magic spell to freeze time. I listen intently trying to hear squeaky baby boy voices again. I long to hold tiny hands, to count the piggies all the way home, to stop the growing and slow the going, because where they are going is away.
Did I wish too hard? Do I have more power than I knew? Was the cape actually pinned to my shirt? Am I magic? Because somehow, it has happened. A pandemic has halted the world and gravity let go. We dropped off the Earth, out of our normal lives and plummeted into some strange hybrid of back-in-time, there-is-no-such-thing-as-time, and right now perspective. There is no visibility at all into the future, so why keep looking? Just keep falling and keep your fingers crossed you don’t crash.
Because the world is more than a little overwhelming, our family’s life has shrunk back down to the size of our yard. My teenagers are no longer in their wolf packs (and I miss their friends as much as I miss my own). I am no longer driving everywhere all the time – in fact, I am not going anywhere at all. The trampolines get used daily again. The boys have even busted out their LEGO sets and playing with their Magic The Gathering cards. Their brother is their best friend for the first time in a decade, and that just might be the best magic of this gathering.
We started eating dinner together. Then lunches. Without anyone acknowledging it, the lunches morphed into toddler food. Ants on a log. Carrot sticks and ranch dressing. Grilled cheeses. When was the last time we all had lunch together on a Tuesday? It was when they were toddlers, smaller than me, no school, or schedules. I am eating it up – both the peanut butter and my boys.
We all like sleeping in. So much sleep. We all dislike online school. Our house is a disaster. We only set it up for our own needs, there is a bed on the porch, a bench press in the yard, a white board in the living room. Every horizontal surface is covered. We basically live in the junk drawer. We miss our friends. We don’t miss the drama. We are bored some days, scared the next. Often sadness rises like a fog, chilling us and unshakeable. We just have to wait it out. We roll through all of the feelings everyday, and together. Sometimes I comfort the boy like when they were little, back scratches and comfort food, soft shushes as they cry. And sometimes they are the ones who throw their long arm around me and ask if I need anything. They kindly show up to my emotional rollercoaster and are willing to ride it out. As I watch them nurture, I see the kindness of their father, the magic of their Grammy, my love, and their own special grace cutting through. I can see men they will become and I am proud. Somedays I never want to leave this calm pool where I can see them reflected so clearly.
Don’t get me wrong, I still want them to get to go out in the world, someday, if any of us ever can again. To travel. To learn. To run with their wolf packs through the forests and across the land, howling and wild. I want the world to right itself and spin again, perhaps on a shifted axis, but keep spinning nonetheless.
There is much to despair about right now. So much. Too much. But when I scope back down – past the layers, past the news, past the numbers, and the rumors – when I can scope all the way home into my yard, home, to my kitchen table on a Tuesday afternoon, I see my little boys sitting beside the men they are becoming. I hear the high voices and their new deep voices laughing together about some ridiculously gross inside joke. When I see their man hands, if I squint just right they become soft and small again. We are together, in this malfunctioning time machine, swirling then and now, and I think that maybe as we step toward a future we will forever remember how to come wee-wee-wee all the way back home.