It’s truly amazing how parenthood works.
You have a tiny little baby, and you can’t imagine how this little thing will ever be anything other than a tiny little baby. And at first, it’s true. Those first days, weeks, years — they seem to drag on. You count the baby’s age by months for what seems like an eternity. Finally the baby becomes a toddler and eventually a preschooler. And then school begins.
And somehow, when you are going about daily life and not paying nearly enough attention, your little baby goes from this …
That time from the first day of kindergarten to high school graduation just evaporates in a blur. I’m kicking myself now for not paying close enough attention. For not focusing on the every minute of every day. For not seeing or knowing that she was growing up right before my eyes. And now I can’t remember what it was like when she was 5 or 8 or even 10.
Now she’s a teenager on the cusp of leaving for college, and it seems like she’s always been that way. I finally stopped time from going in fast forward and here we are, at this end of sorts. It’s the end of the part of her life when she depends on us, lives with us and belongs with us. Starting very soon, her life will take her farther and farther away from us. It’s a good thing. It’s what we’ve been so busy working toward. But it’s also so sad because it got here sooner than I thought it would. Those slow days in the beginning had me deceived that this would all take a lifetime. But it hasn’t.
Lately, I’ve been telling my friends with younger kids to try to focus on the every day. To pay close attention so they remember what their kids are like at 5 and 8 and even 10. They look at me with that look that all mom’s give when you offer advice that makes no sense at the time. It’s the same look I gave moms who told me.
The fact is, there’s no way to ever prepare for how fast your tiny baby grows up. There’s no way to pay close enough attention. And no way to make sure you remember them, even at 18.
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FranklyStein is a blog by Chesapeake Family Life editor Betsy Stein, who lives in Catonsville with her husband, Chris, and four children, Maggie, 18, Lilly, 16, Adam, 16, and Jonah, 12.