Slowing the Hands of Time by Darian McKenzie
For days now, I have put off packing up my daughter’s newborn clothes, but with outfits bursting out of the other drawers, it’s starting to seem silly to occupy this space with items she no longer fits into.
I find my heart breaking in this most unusual way as I pull out her teeny onesies, each one holding memories I know my husband and I will hold on to for a long time. Nola is only five weeks old, and it already feels like she’s growing too fast for me to keep up. Above her dresser hangs the quote, “The days are long, but the years are short,” a gift from a friend as a reminder to enjoy each moment of this crazy journey. And I feel like I’ve really tried to do that. Nola’s made our transition into parenthood relatively seamless, and I’ve made a big effort to soak it all up. I guess I thought I’d be rewarded with the slowing of time, but apparently, it doesn’t work that way.
I worry it will only get harder when I return to work, when the hours of each day will be stretched in a way that I know will test my patience and undoubtedly evoke feelings of guilt. This is uncharted territory, and yet, not surprisingly, I find comfort in the familiarity of books.
Feeling unprepared to pack away the clothing right now, I snuggle up with my daughter and begin reading our latest book, The Fourteenth Goldfish, aloud. I realize quickly that this act – sharing books – is how I can squeeze more out of our time together, how I can attempt to slow the hands of the Dr. Seuss clock hanging in her nursery. It’s how I will model the person I hope she becomes and where I will find the courage and confidence to be the parent I want to be. It has only been five weeks, but we’ve already shared dozens of books that have allowed me to slow down, let the laundry pile up, and leave calls unanswered, if only for a short while. Books that let me share with Nola the world she’ll grow up in, and, more importantly, the role I hope she will have in making it better.
I yearn for her to be brave like Ana when she delivers her reptile presentation and unquestionably kind like Levi, who makes each of the customers at Starbucks feel seen. I hope she’s a loyal friend like Amos McGee’s zoo pals and that she models her problem solving after Woodpecker in his quest for waffles. In a world where many struggle to celebrate the diversity around us, I want her to be inclusive of others like the Little Blue Truck who shares a friendly greeting with everyone he passes.
She’s not the only one who will benefit from these quiet breaks from the world. I find myself in awe of Auggie’s parents, and I will strive to view challenges in Nola’s life with their same strength and patience. I hope the words I say, both to and near my daughter, matter and that I speak truths, like Ms. Emerson. And knowing I can’t stop our lives from constantly changing, I’ll try my hardest to be like Trixie who knows when it’s time to let Knuffle Bunny go.
Continuing to read together will allow me to savor the moments we share. My husband and I have already spent a significant amount of time discussing how and when we’ll read Harry Potter with her. I know that when she starts school, it will come with the added bonus of Nola beginning to recommend books to us, after years of the reverse. The glider in her room will hold us for countless stories while the walls will hear the reader’s voice transform over the years to come.
Although I cannot slow down time, I can make sure I fill it with books that warm our hearts, bring us closer to one another, teach us both to be better people, and help us to write our own life stories.
Darian McKenzie is an elementary reading specialist in North Wales, Pennsylvania, where she strives to instill a love of reading in all of her students. In addition to being a teacher, she is a wife, a runner, a reader, and as of August 30, a mother. Her perfect day involves reading on her front porch with a tall mug of tea and spending time with her family. She’s grateful to the Nerdy Book Club for constantly growing her and Nola’s to-read list. You can follow her, or share recommendations for them to read together, on Twitter @msthinkaloud.