When you’re a new mommy, a mommy-of-olders with gentle eyes will tell you, “Remember — this is a season. This is just for now, not forever. It’s just a season.” You look at the other mommy with your own over-caffeinated eyes and give a slack-jawed, hollow nod. You hope she’s right because your middle-of-the-night prayer life has been reduced to a single mantra, “Please, oh please, oh please, Lord. Just ten more minutes.” And by the time the 2-year-molars arrive, you genuinely believe you will never sleep again.
You do, of course. And the gentle-eyed mommies were right all along (the gentle ones are always right). You sleep. You read. You shower. It all happens. But when you’re going through your own infernal Bologia 2, you really aren’t sure. You really don’t know. You think now just might be forever.
We are perfectly terrible about seasons. That ubiquitous Scold whispers the now-or-never mantra in our ears early on, “If you keep crossing your eyes, they’ll stay that way.” “If you don’t make this decision now, you might as well forget it.” And it continues into adulthood. “You’re twenty-six. If you don’t take care of your fertility now, it’ll be too late.” “If you don’t get that kid to sleep through the night now, you’ll never have a life.” “If he doesn’t learn who’s boss now, just wait until he is a teenager.” Unhelpful, boundariless busybodies deposit their threatening two-cents. “Well, if you don’t wrastle control now, you are doomed.” “If you don’t move on, you’ll always be miserable.”
Whatever we’re enduring, the Scold is there with its scoldish grammar: “If you don’t ________ now, you never will.” The grammar is a parasite, sniffing your self-doubt and preying on your lack of prophetic gifts. Or just your lack in general. The Scold is so self-assured and so omniscient. If you. . . . always never. . . .
Maybe it’s an American problem. Maybe when we left the Old World’s sacred, cyclical time we botched it up with our own modern, progressive time. And like all things conservative Evangelical, our subculture is American Exceptionalism on ‘roid rage. We are Moralists: Extreme Psyche Edition. If all of America is progressing on its linear timeline, we are moving faster. Or “moving on” faster, in this case.
This week has been a time to remember. To weep. And to dance. Next year will be the same. But now it’s time to work.