I thought I’d have time.

So I squeeze in one more errand before I give myself permission to play with my son in the forest. I pour over my retirement plan instead of meeting my friend to ride bikes. I put my work life over connecting with friends on a hike.

Not because I don’t want to play with my son or ride bikes or hike. I tell myself a lie, that if I can just get through this next thing, cross one more line off my to-do list, that my schedule will open up and rays of sunshine stream down onto me, that I’ll have the abiding joy that comes from unaccounted time with the people I love. But life doesn’t play out that way.

Mountain MamaOther moms confide the same fallacy of thinking. “I thought I’d have time,” they tell me. “If only I push harder and work more.” We commiserate, wondering when life became so abundant, when time evaporated.

It happens to dads too, buying into the delayed gratification of focusing on career. They think they’ll have time, trading the present for a promise of a future with more freedom only to get the cancer diagnosis or a pink slip.

I spend time with my own dad, folding up his wheelchair and put it in the backseat next to my son’s booster seat when I drive him to doctor’s appointments. I sit with him and listen as he recounts his own version of thinking he’d have time. He lists the places he meant to see, the boats he meant to sail and the dreams he meant to live.

After a long visit, leaving him is bittersweet, not knowing if I will get another chance to visit with him, not knowing if there will be a next time. I drive home to the mountains with the reminder to pause and reconsider my priorities. Everywhere I look spring is revealing herself, flowers blooming, new buds on the trees. The leaves unfurl, revealing a piercing green. It’s a shade so vibrant and full of hope that it makes me burst with possibility. It’s a green that whispers. There’s only right now.