"He's precious," they say gazing in to my stroller with my newborn son (pictured to the right) curled up inside. "Treasure every moment. It goes so fast."
"YOU treasure every minute!" I think, pining for an hour to take a nap. Then I snap out of my daydream, smile, thank them and head on my way.
Being a new parent (again) does funny things to time. From the outside, it seems to be whizzing by. At a party a few months ago, a friend saw my growing belly and said, "Wow. That was fast!" ,
"I bet it's been very quick for you," I replied.
He was game and smiled back, "Yeah, and it's been so easy!"
But for me, being pregnant around the clock, day and night, especially in that third trimester, felt like forever. In my last few yoga classes, I would introduce myself and give my status as infinity weeks pregnant.
New parenthood feels equally slow. My friend and new Merlin Works Teacher Jason Finkelman
introduced me to a great podcast about early parenthood called The Shortest Longest Time
. I just love that title because it captures it so well. It IS a short amount of time--a matter of months while they are still a baby. But as a parent you are in this endless three-hour cycle of feeding, changing, getting a little something done/eating/showering/sleeping and back to feeding again. You can't plan too far ahead: lunch is not guaranteed, much less bedtime. The months are fast but the days are long. And the nights can be even longer.
What is happening to time in pregnancy and early parenthood? Why does it feel so slow? I think pregnancy can feel slow because there is so much anticipation and discomfort. Early parenthood can feel slow because you are forced to live in the moment. There's nothing to do but respond to your baby's needs. You can't plan ahead too far, because nothing is set--there's no guarantees when he'll sleep, eat, be needy, or not need you at all. There's no getting the taking-care-of-the baby-thing done so you can do other stuff. You must be present to your baby's needs and moods and respond accordingly, fitting in your stuff (like writing your company newsletter) when you can.
Yet from the outside, others can't help but comment on how fast it all is. Hec, you can't even help but see how the time has flown when you start looking back at those newborn photos.
It's similar to the experience of improviser. Often times audience members say things like, "How did you think so fast?" or "I could never keep up with you all." But when you are present, and in the moment in your improv scene, it can feel like you have all the time in the world. Experienced improvisers can feel like Neo in the Matrix, seeing it all. I don't consider myself a quick thinker at all. (I've actually earned the nickname Turtle in several different phases of life.) My trick isn't thinking fast, it's being present. In the moment I have all the time I need.
Improv can both slow down and speed up time: The moment feels like forever, but the show goes so fast. After a great show, you can walk off stage, realize you are sweating, and wonder what amazing thing just happened for the last thirty minutes.
Presence is the key. With my first son, I started out trying to get work done while I was watching him and I found it incredibly frustrating and unsatisfying, feeling like I was failing at both. Things improved greatly when I decided that when I was with him, I wasn't working, and when I had childcare, I could get things done. Multitasking is for the imaginary supermoms out there--not me.
So if you feel like life is whizzing by, do some improv, or get pregnant. Things will slow down pretty fast for you, too.
PINK IS THE NEW BLACK - A Girls Girls Girls Improvised Musical
Girls Girls Girls Improvised Musicals presents an evening of rhymes and misdemeanors.
Guilty! The cast of Girls Girls Girls has been sentenced to trade in their sparkles for pink prison uniforms to do time in the women’s federal penitentiary. This April, the girls will show their true grit as they navigate prison life: from crazy fellow inmates and questionable food to creative ways to fashion almost anything from a maxi-pad.
Follow one prisoner’s improvised tale from the courtroom to the top bunk as she makes friends and enemies, figures out the underground system for favors, and unwittingly stumbles into all sorts of messes as she makes her way through prison. Be prepared for musical magic and mayhem in a spectacle never before improvised or attempted in Austin TX. Pink Is The New Black!
B. Iden Payne Award Winning Girls Girls Girls (gggimprov.com) is Austin, Texas's longest running all-female improvisation troupe. Our specialty is creating longform, improvised musicals from a single audience suggestion. The cast includes Aden Kirschner, Amy Averett, Cynthia Oelkers, Kimberly Cox, Caitlin SweetLamb, Megan Flynn, and Sarah Marie Curry with musicians Ammon Taylor, Ed Kliman, and Joel Love.
Saturdays at 8pm in April.
Get your tickets at http://www.theinstitutiontheater.com/shows