I recently finished reading my $1.50 copy of Orange is the New Black that I picked up off a book sale table. Yes, that’s the book off of which the Netflix show is (loosely) based. I’m not sure if I would have sought out and bought that book had I not found it at such a great price. I had watched a couple of seasons of OITNB when it came out, but I never finished the series.
The book, though, was a thoughtful read (and much less salacious than the show). The overwhelming message of the story shows how unjust our justice system really is and the faults and failures of our prison system. But I was equally intrigued by the lesser details of how the author, Piper Kerman, learned how to do her time: making microwave cheesecakes, practicing daily yoga, forming friendships, dealing with power-tripping guards…
There was one line in particular that struck me and stuck with me. Piper mentions that one of her mantras to get through each long prison day was “Time, be my friend.”
Enter my newfound mantra
As a mother, I’m guilty of wishing time away. I’m not good at the snuggly newborn stage that everyone seems to love so much. I’m anxious for my babies to become more communicative, to be able to tell me what’s wrong and what they want. I want to hurry through the teething, the sleepless nights, the tantrums, the regressions. When I’m playing trucks for the eightieth time that day, I find myself sneaking my phone out and scrolling instead of fully engaging. I want to use my time differently.
But during each snuggle, I want time to stand still. When they cuddle on my lap to calmly listen to a story, I want to freeze the moment forever. Sometimes I get so caught up with trying to capture a picture of the perfect moment, I realize I’m not fully in that moment.
Enter my newfound mantra for motherhood: time, be my friend. The phrase somehow seems kinder than me begging the clock to speed up; it seems gentler when I want time to slow down; it reminds me that, like any friendship, I need to be present and focus on the matter at hand.
When the long nights with a sick baby and countless feedings seem endless– time, be my friend.
When we’re sitting on a bench outside the preschool sharing a snack in the warm sun and chatting about our days– time, be my friend.
When the bed-making and the teeth-brushing that should take ten minutes wind up taking an hour and we’re late AGAIN– time, be my friend.
When the three hours between the baby’s nap times grind to a halt… time, be my friend.
When bath and bubbles are so much fun we push bedtime back just for a few more giggles… time be my friend.
When the tantrums and screaming lead to puking and I think, this is it, this is the tantrum that will send me over the edge– time, be my friend.
When I’m trying to squeeze an entire night of sleep into the last twelve minutes before my alarm goes off to start the day… time, be my friend.
When my baby closes his eyes against the cool breeze while being pushed in the swing hanging from our tree, and I just want to swing him forever– time, be my friend.
When I watch my boys playing together, laughing and toppling over each other, in those moments before it turns to roughhouse and the tears start… time, be my friend.