I've heard about a thousand times that your kids grow up "too fast." This comes mostly from seasoned parents, with kids in high school or even out of the house, grandkids to follow who are also growing more quickly than their parents wish. And I'm sure they're right! However, in my tenured two years as a parent, I haven't really felt that way. I chalk it up to my status as a stay-at-home dad. I've been able to spend about every waking moment of the first two years of my daughter's life with her, and so when people have told me, "They grow up so fast," I just thought: Eh, feels about right to me.I think that's actually one of the great benefits to staying home with your kids -- time seems to travel more slowly -- and until they invent time machines, those are moments you just can't get back.
But then today, it happened -- I had my first "they grow up so fast" moment.
I was feeding Ellie and asked her if she remembered me cutting her grapes because they were too big for her to eat safely. She can't answer, but it was a thought I had and so I said it out loud. You see, there was a time when even a whole grape was too much for her little mouth to swallow, but now she can stuff about a half a cup of food in there at once, no problem. And as I reminisced about her younger days, I felt kind of sad, the bite of nostalgia cutting my nostrils and watering my dry eyes. She is growing up, things are changing, and the pre-toddler little girl she once was is now gone.
I've always looked forward to her growing up actually, because she just gets more and more fun! She can jump now, climb and play on bigger things. She took her first try at standing up on a skateboard last week, and I look forward to the day I can teach her to surf (if she wants to learn, of course). It just gets better and better, but today I'm catching the first glimpse of what they mean when they say, "too fast." Soon she'll be going off to school, having sleepovers and maybe even (gulp) liking boys...
But you can't stop time, right? And so all I can do is take this moment of nostalgia as a reminder to enjoy every day. Every tantrum-filled, vegetable-throwing, laughter-inducing, hug-beckoning, dance-party-of-a day. There will always be work to do, and tomorrow has enough worry of its own, but we're only given so much time with the ones we love. And maybe, just maybe, if I take advantage of every moment I can, when I find myself saying, "They grow up too fast," there can be a little less sadness in my eyes than the next guy, because I know I was there to enjoy as much of it as I could.