August 25, 2007
If you’ve ever been lucky enough to camp out in the open under starry skies you know that if you stare up long enough and get yourself into the right frame of mind you can see the stars slowly rotating through bowl of the sky. If you happen to be near a mountain the little dots of light blink out as they pass behind the silhouette. I am always overcome with the hard to resolve simultaneous feelings of slowness and extreme speed. Some geeky part of me knows the earth is spinning at almost 1000mph and barreling around the sun at 67,000mph and yet you almost have to slow your heartbeat down to experience that nightly show starry transcendence. Look away for a second and the sky stills, the show ends, your brain readjusts to a normal recording speed and it takes a long time to find your groove again.
A few have asked what life with 2 kids is like now that we’re almost 6 months down the road and the first thing that comes to mind is that same sense of paradox: of speed and of slowness. Our baby Gabriel sometimes demands to be held in the middle of the night. So we will spend an hour, two hours rocking him while he ever so slowly falls back into sleep. Time stops. It is almost possible to believe the world is all still and yet.... overnight he grows, literally. He’ll fall asleep fitting his pajamas, he'll wake up and we'll find they are too small. Fingernails must be cut every few days. Pictures from a month ago are almost unfamiliar.
Our other child, a 2 1/2 year old might spend an hour preparing his oatmeal—picking exactly the right blueberries to add, carefully spooning in brown sugar and a single icecube. It is a s l o w process. And then he’ll put his head on the table looking deeply into his bowl and say that the milk is the ocean and the oat grains are like the land—a first metaphor, a leap of imagination he couldn’t have made a few weeks ago. The terrible twos for all their whininess and tantrums are also a time of staggering sweetness. You’ll be sitting there sleepily, grumpily accompanying the daily oatmeal extravaganza when apropos of nothing you’ll get a heartfelt hug, "I love you daddy. I love mommy too. Daddy, Mommy, Gabriel," and then it’s back to eating the oatmeal. "I love oatmeal! All done. I dump it out?" And as much as you enjoy the moment you know it will pass quickly, the baggage of life will accumulate. Things will not be spoken. You see yourself and your own father and your father with his father. You see the little boy next to you chattering away and can’t believe he was was once like the infant in your arms. You try not to be distracted and look away too much because you know it can take a long time to find your way back.