While skipping past my Facebook Timeline’s myriad “I need coffee!” grumbles most mornings and “I need wine!” laments later in the days, I’ve discovered another type of social media declaration that has even more of a nails-on-a-chalkboard effect on me: when parents denote their child’s birthday by saying things like “I can’t believe it’s been 9 years since my hilarious, mischievous, handsome and effervescent Little Johnny was born”.
No, I’m not a Grinch who hates birthdays, children or adjectives. Rather I’m a father who is totally enamored with and constantly amazed by my children, as I’d hope my friends and acquaintances would be by theirs. My two boys leave me in a perpetual state of awe. The Little Dude is 4 ½ years old and I can believe that because I’ve lived it. Day-in and day-out, through better and worse.
|4 1/2 years in the blink of an eye|
His almost-2-year-old brother, the Littler Dude, started walking recently, which is one of the most incredible early developmental milestones for a parent to witness. Watching your child trying to figure out how to graduate from being a totally immobile food-recycling lump into a quasi-self-sufficient-being in a matter of months is magical. It seems like eons ago when we watched the Littler Dude eagerly observing his older brother running around outside, while grunting to express how badly he wanted to join him. Willing himself to accomplish that goal, that mission to keep up with his idol, in such a relatively short amount of time was a look into the soul of hope.
So when people compose a status update like “I can’t believe my bubbly, clever, generous, ornery Tatiana is 8 months old today!” I always think of the preposterously named I Can’t Believe It’s Not Butter. If you can’t believe that oozing yellow goop is not butter, either you’ve never actually tasted butter or your taste buds have been brainwashed into thinking that some artificial faux-dairy product tastes better and is healthier for you, when in reality its ingredients are nearly as plastic as the container it comes in. In order to believe, we must open our mind’s taste buds to savor the complexity of our intellectual manna.
Being a parent is easily the greatest gift in the world (beside a Ferrari), but what makes it incredible is actually experiencing the emotional hills and valleys that make a life lived. Of course those journeys happen at breakneck speed to make us appreciate how fortuitous we as parents truly are. As a wise man once said “Life moves pretty fast, if you don’t stop and look around once in a while you could miss it.” Ferris Bueller yearned to maximize every moment of his journey and I strive to do the same with and for my family. I’m wistfully aware that my 4 ½ year-old son has already used up about ¼ of his time at home with Mrs. Dude and me before he hopefully heads to college. It’s that rapid changing of the calendar that frequently makes me reminisce about some of my own life’s adventures that seem like they recently occurred, yet it’s only when I stop to reflect that I realize they were really 10 years ago. Or 20. Or 30.
For me, parenting has been challenging, stressful, messy, sticky and infinitely more. And that’s just in the last hour. I’m beyond lucky to have my Junior Dudes and their wonderful mother as my companions for the odyssey that comprises the story of our family, wherein time is merely a subjective factor in the grand equation that is our life. As parents we often watch the clock for things like “is there really still 20 weeks left of this pregnancy?” or “will my child ever sleep that extra hour so I’m 3% less of a zombie tomorrow?” But the reality is that time is what we make of it. Everyone is allotted the same 24 hours per day, yet those 60-minute blocks seem to move supersonically as we age. Since there is no way to slow them down we must Carpe the hell out of our finite number of Diem to make sure we savor each treasured moment before they slip away.
Just when I’ve gotten used to the Little Dude going to preschool, he’ll soon move up to Pre-Kindergarten while his brother starts at the same school, coincidentally where their grandmother took their mother over three decades ago. I understand the disbelief so many friends claim to feel regarding their children’s growth and empathize. Time does move fast. Certainly much faster than desired through these prized early moments. That’s why I attempt to savor each one, for though we don’t know what’s coming next we must buckle our seatbelts and be ready for the adventure.
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