By Lisa Manterfield
I do hope this isn’t simply a factor of aging, but lately I seem to have lost my ability to keep track of time. I was always so good at remembering things like how many years ago we visited such-and-such a place, or where we spent Christmas four years ago. But the last several years of my life have suddenly blurred into one big event. I can no longer accurately mark time.
Over lunch with a friend recently, we talked about her daughter and both expressed shock that she is already 16. How the years fly! We talked about another friend who has since moved away and how vividly we remember going to see her new baby so many years ago. I realized that I have no idea how old this little boy is now. I guessed he was probably somewhere around 10 or 12, but my friend knew exactly. “He’s two years younger than my daughter. He’ll be 14 in March.” I felt guilty that I didn’t remember that.
Walking home after lunch, it dawned on me that my time amnesia might have a lot to do with not having children. My friend is reminded on a daily basis of how old her children are. She marks the passing of time with birthday parties, school grades, and childhood milestones. She knows how long ago something happened, because she knows how old her kids were, or what grade they were in at the time. She knows how old our friend’s son is because she remembers where she was on her motherhood path when our friend was pregnant. I don’t have that marker and so I have to try to fill in the gaps with other events, or news headlines to mark time in my memory. But unless something significant happened, I don’t have those milestones to grasp onto.
Without children to mark time and propel my life forward, I can see how easy it could be to drift through the years. Children create milestones and new direction and, while I’m not in any danger of falling into a rut yet, I can see how easily my life could lose direction.
Maybe I’ve just hit by a patch of melancholy again, so does anyone else see this? Do any of you feel as if your life is drifting by?