When I was a newlywed, I worked for a small law office in New Haven, Connecticut. An attorney practicing alone had taken on a partner and I was hired as her secretary.
She didn't have many clients because she was just beginning her solo practice, so I often spent long hours at a blank desk, day-dreaming about what I would name my five children some day. I'd talk long-distance to a friend of mine who was working in a law office in Chicago (she called me). I wrote long letters and journal entries. I was bored silly. I would stare out at the three churches in the center of the Green and wish I were somewhere else, doing something else.
When I would walk down the flight of stairs to deliver something or pick something up from Leo, the legal assistant, we would often chat for a few minutes. He was teaching me everything I needed to know. He was studying to become a lawyer, too.
One day, I was wishing aloud that it was time to go home and Leo said in his Boston accent, "Hey, now, don't wish your life away."
That's exactly what I'd been doing. Wishing away the moments I had for some future I couldn't even see.
From time to time, I hear myself wishing my life away again. Yesterday, after church, for instance. Roberta sat next to me. She has a 23 year old son and an 18 year old daughter. She said, "How are you?" and I launched into way too many details about the lack of naps around here and how exhausting it is and how I feel like I've been doing this forever.
"What was I doing ten years ago?" I said. "This! What was I doing five years ago? This! What am I doing now? This!" I pointed to Babygirl each time I said "this", to indicate that I was at the mercy of a toddler's schedule and quirky habits.
She smiled and said, "I'd give anything . . ."
And I actually interrupted her and said, "Yes, I know. My husband told me this morning that I would miss having her completely dependent on me, but I DON'T THINK SO!"
She said, "It goes by so fast. My son is twenty-three."
Sigh. Why is is that the days last so long and the years are so short?
I should know this, of course. My ten year old boys were babies just twenty minutes ago, it seems. They do grow up fast. But, oh boy, this day lasted forever. She woke up at 7:30 a.m. and went to bed at 7:30 p.m., with two power naps while she nursed, lasting a total of an hour. She was crabby, she whined, she stomped her pretty little feet, she spit her lunch at me.
I realized today that I just am not going to get autumn decorations up. Time's short. The days are long, but time is short!
I've got to stop wishing my life away.