I have lost count of the number of times that I chased after the has-beens, what-ifs and maybes.
When I was a child, I was in a hurry to grow up in every way possible. I would try on my mother’s high heels, play with her humble stash of makeup, ask to go to the playground on my own, plead to go out with my friends, and buy my very first grown-up wallet (my mother used to attach a coin pouch to the inner lining of my pocket using a safety pin so I wouldn’t lose it….again). I even saved up to buy five curry puffs from my primary school canteen (and kept them in the pocket of my skirt…) for everyone in my family because that made me feel like a steward. I remember thinking that it would be nice if I could be an adult, kinda like Tom Hanks in the movie ‘Big‘, because I wanted to make my own decisions, and that seemed like the coolest thing a kid could do at that point.
When I started working, I was in a hurry to be somebody in the company I was working for, and to earn a handsome salary so that I could give my parents an allowance, buy them a house with a pretty garden, get my first car, etc. (But of course, I had to throw myself into the pursuit of a postgraduate degree and regress to being a student who was broke as hell from the age of 25 to 28, which largely represented a stage in life where my peers were starting to climb up the ladder at work and have some semblance of financial independence.)
When I was slogging through PhD, I couldn’t wait to graduate, so I could kickstart my late-bloomer of a career, be (yay) finally un-broke and put the skills I have learnt to good use. And yes, as I got married whilst getting my degree, I yearned to have a child too but we shelved the plans because pursuing a PhD whilst having a kid in a foreign country just didn’t make sense (to my disappointment).
Then I finally became a parent.
The sleepless nights, and state of being generally clueless about what a newborn needs, had me wishing that my daughter would grow up as soon as possible. I also thought about the times when I was young and carefree (read: before I became a parent), and occasionally wished that I could turn back the hands of time, and be the kid that I was. The kid who had the drive to propel herself, without incessant worries weighing heavily on her mind and cumbersome burdens on her shoulders.
Today, Faith is a little over 19 months old; she is is learning incredibly quickly and trying to be the big girl she wants to be. I look at her, and then at my dear husband, who has really, really gone through thick and thin with me since we became parents, and my heart aches a little. I whip out old photos and videos, and giggle as I watch my then-newborn sneeze for the first time. And then, I shed a tear or two at how she used to fit in my forearm, and how she and I used to spend the waking moments talking about anything under the sun. Well, I talked, and she listened, babbled, laughed and sometimes, cried. I can’t help but wish for her to stop growing up, to let me hold her tiny being close to me for a little longer, before her desire to be big gets…bigger.
As I meditate on this, as I lament the future of my past and the past of my future, I realise that the only sensible thing to do is to live in the here-and-now. For today makes yesterday’s future and tomorrow’s past, and try as I might to cling onto the has-beens, and get a whiff of the maybes, only the here-and-now matters. After all, it is the here-and-now today that makes tomorrow’s memories, memories that I will keep for life, memories that I will share with my loved ones.
So yes, Faith will grow up to be an angsty teenager at some point. My husband and I will only be getting more wrinkles here on out. A couple more spare tyres may unfold on my belly. There is no stopping time and the scary thing that is change. But I reckon the here-and-nows with my loved ones make everything so much better than if we were stagnant, living in the past or over-thinking the future.
To all of our here-and-nows.