Mole, Hedgehog and the time vortex
How do Mole and Hedgehog view time?. The main point is that they don’t. They are completely unaware of time. I don’t think they have any concept of how long a day is, or a week, let alone a month. A year is half a life time, or an entire life time for Hedgehog, so I can understand how it is all pretty meaningless to them at this stage. There is no beginning and no end, time is not linear, there is only the present. Mole and Hedgehog simply exist. They live from one moment to the next, everything is immediate.
Hedgehog just illustrated this to me when she got over zealous about brushing her teeth, cried when I prized the toothbrush from her hands and carried her away from the other toothbrushes standing temptingly in their mug, only to became fascinated with the Pinocchio puppet hanging on the bathroom door, which we played with for five minutes, immediately forgetting the toothbrush trauma.
Mole does have memory now, she talks about places she’s been, people she knows, she recognises the road into our village and yells “Hooommmme” as we are rounding the last mile. But when she might see these people or places again is at some obscure point in the future. It is not relevant until they actually walk through the door and become real. She talks of her birthday party every day as if it is next week, even though it is still four months away.
Recently Mr M&H and I went on a twosome trip to Belgium for five days, sans Mole and Hedgehog, who stayed with Granny. We did 'face time' with them each evening, which was hilarious and reassuring in equal measure, as they were clearly having a great time with Granny. By day five the novelty of being free again had worn off and we were missing them like crazy. I had my doubts about how much they missed us. Mole yelled “Mummy” when she saw me and ran over for a two second cuddle, before scurrying off to play with the neighbouring children in the road. Hedgehog was totally nonplussed in response to my emotional embrace and even reached out her arms to be taken back to Granny. She’s warmed back up to me now, I’m relieved to say. Of course the main thing is that they were happy and well cared for in our absence, but it serves to show how completely in the moment they live.
This makes me more aware of how I view time by comparison. It is linear of course. I’m about a third of the way through my life, it is half way through the year, as I sit writing this it is ten to one, half way through the day. Mole and Hedgehog have been napping for two hours and will probably be awake in another hour. In a minute I’ll do some gardening and then we’ll have some lunch. Time is always compartmentalised down to smaller and smaller units. It divides up our day, making us feel that if we’ve lagged for half an hour, then we’re falling behind in the great list of things to be done or got through.
I often project this onto Mole and Hedgehog, this need to be efficient with time and use it productively, whatever being ‘productive’ means. We are constantly making up new activities to fill the time. There is always something else on the ‘to do’ list, it never ends. This is probably something I got from my own mother.
In pre Mole and Hedgehog life, my world was governed by clock watching, office hours, train times, scheduling in dates, trips at the weekend, the diary was booked months ahead. I measured my success and productivity by the number of tasks I could tick off in a day. I also got my due pay, recognition and reward in the office for this. Time and money were invariably linked.
When Mole was first born, I really struggled with having to change my pace of life to fit her needs. These were essentially to sit on my boob for most of the day. Getting dressed, let alone out of the house, was a monumental effort. In time, I surrendered to it, sitting on the sofa together, feeding, loving, being. I got through an entire box set of ‘Mad Men’ this way. I felt incredibly inactive and frustrated. After another day of breast feeding and changing nappies, barely having time to shower or cook meals, pushing the pram round the block for some fresh air, living on four hours of sleep a night, I questioned what I was achieving.
Of course, what I was achieving was monumental, bringing up a new human being. Putting in the hours of nurture and love that was building the person she would become. It may not be paid, it may not afford any status, the only recognition I occasionally got was from Mr M&H or Granny. But this was more important than selling holidays. This was also the first time in my life when I called the shots. No-one was telling me what to do. It was up to me to figure it out, my own way. Because this was about Mole and I, no-one else. My outlook changed. My perspective on success, the way things are quantified, valued and measured, changed. And the way I saw time changed.
I stopped rushing. I realised that the more you speed up life, the more meaningless it becomes. When Mole forced me to slow down, I learned how to value the important moments, to be more patient, compassionate and understanding with people. The days seemed longer, more luxurious after that. I stopped wearing a watch. Mole taught me to see everything as an adventure, to be savoured, because that is how she sees everything.
A trip to the swings for example. Mole walks at the pace of a tortoise and stops every few steps to stare at a dog or ask questions about a stick on the ground. Hedgehog would be getting restless in the sling and I would be hell bent on getting to the swings, the purpose of our trip. At first I would get impatient, practically dragging Mole along by the hand, making the whole thing into a struggle. Then there was the light bulb moment – cliché alert – it’s not the destination but the journey that matters. If Mole wants to pick up stones for half an hour, or look at all the different kinds of flowers, or spend ages hunting for snails, why not let her?. If it takes us two hours to go to the swings and back, well, that’s a trip well spent.
So I’ve learned to go with the flow much more when with Mole and Hedgehog, which is most of the time. Getting sh*t done is reserved for when they’re asleep, i.e. nap times and evenings. Most days with Mole and Hedgehog pass in a blur of playing on the floor or in the garden. Balancing Hedgehog on one hip and a glass of wine in the other hand, while running races with Mole up the road. I have no doubt that in a few years things will shift again, the routine will change as they do, but right now, I’m enjoying growing up with them and being a little less concerned with the time.