Being with babies and small children invites us to leave, at least occasionally, the familiar constraints of clock time, and enter into the timeless fluidity of the moment. One minute, we can be entirely focused on a mundane task, doing something we did a dozen times last week, and will do a dozen times more before the week is out. And then something happens to shift our perspective, and through our children’s eyes, we have a dizzying glimpse of something immensely greater than ourselves. How many times a day do we as mothers switch back and forth between these two perspectives, one time-bound, the other timeless? The painting shows the toddler Krishna, whose mother Yahsoda scolded him upon hearing that her had been eating dirt. She asked him to open his moth for her to see. When she looked in her little boy’s mouth, she saw all of creation there.
It seems to me that both the time-bound and timeless perspectives are good and necessary ones. That they are sometimes at odds with each other is merely part of the fascinating tension of mothering. I remember feeling both deeply moved by those moments of timelessness, and also resentful that I couldn’t operate like an adult a lot of the time. I had a dream that I took off my watch to bathe the kids, and then was unable to find it again. It was not a comfortable feeling.
It may at times be difficult for us to allow ourselves to enter the realm of timelessness. Trying to get out the door on time with one or more young children can be exasperating, and it can be nearly impossible to appreciate our children’s wonderful immersion in a world where time means nothing. This will likely be even more true if we are juggling lots of time-bound responsibilities, such as jobs outside of the home. For our sake and our children’s, we will need to take on the role of clock watcher. However, if we can’t allow our children to at least occasionally drop us into timelessness as the young Krishna did for Yashoda that day, then I think we are missing out on a wonderful gift that motherhood has to offer.