Have you ever had one of those days that just goes on forever? Like time has stopped and nothing you do will restart it. As a stay at home mom, this happens on the daily. My time stop happens every day around the same time. At 4:30pm, time just stands still. It seems to take 100 years and all my mental faculties to survive until 5:30 when Jordan gets home. Usually I lovingly welcome him home by throwing our two screaming kids at him so I can sling some dinner on plates without two wild animals swinging from my hair. But the 4:30 deal is predictable. I'm pretty used to the time warp and have developed an arsenal of survival techniques for my daily wrinkle in time.
One day last week, though, the time warp hit early, around 2pm. It was the perfect formula for time to stop. No naps, unsatisfactory snacks, sister squabbles, and a tired mama were at play. Everything I suggested was a terrible idea and we were maxed out on screen time. At 3:15 I threw them in the double stroller, grabbed the dog and hit the pavement. I'm a genius. They will fall asleep and I'll come home and sit on the front porch in quiet solitude. Not so. Our walk was made up of whining, throwing shoes and bows out of the stroller, grabbing each other's toys, and a lot of exasperated pleading for mercy. By 4pm we'd looped the neighborhood a couple of times, and the situation was bleak. But at least they were strapped in, so we trudged on.
Becoming sort of numb to the whining, I started observing the neighborhood and letting my mind wander. We walked past barking dogs on upstairs porches and kids building forts in the big empty lot at the front of the neighborhood. We rolled by ducks diving and swimming in the little pond at the center of the neighborhood and watched stray cats darting from yard to yard. Then I pushed my big double stroller, heavy with the weight of my two tired fussy babies past a house with a big screened in porch on the second level. The porch was wide and inviting, with comfy furniture asking to be sunk into and a big oak tree offering shade over the porch. There was a lady with white hair sitting in a cushioned chair. She wore cozy socks and rested her feet on a big ottoman. There was a small table by her chair with a cup of tea or coffee resting within reach, and she was leaned back leisurely reading a book.
I almost stopped when I saw her. She looked like the most perfect picture of leisure and rest. I wondered what it must be like to be so relaxed, to not be muscling 50 pounds of whiny baby around the neighborhood because it was easier than wrestling 50 pounds of whiny baby at home. I fantasized about being her, about what book I would read, what kind of tea I would sip, how cushy and comforting the chair would feel, and how divine my feet would feel propped up. These observations and fantasies happened in an instant as we walked by.
And in the next instant I saw everything that will happen before I'm the white haired lady. My girls will grow up and move away and they will be the ones with 4:30pm time stops while they wait for husbands to come home or to leave their jobs and go home. I will sit with my feet propped up on my cozy porch in sweet leisure, remembering a time when my kids were small enough to ride in a double stroller and be rocked to sleep. I will read and rest and be thankful, and I will pray that my grown up girls are living with joyful presence through the stroller muscling, 4:30pm time stops, and that they will see the glorious gift of right now, even when it's hard. Because now I'm an old lady on my front porch remembering how sweet the hard times really were.
Another instant and we're home. My time stop over in a blink. Jordan is back and it's time for dinner and baths and good night kisses. All of us another day older, another day closer to the white haired lady on the porch. And I am grateful that time stops sometimes.