Enjoy it, because they grow up so fast.
Wait, did I just say that?
I hated when mothers said that to me when I was the exhausted mom of little kids. It sure doesn’t feel fast, I grumbled internally. And yet, here I am, gazing at the high school, wondering how we managed to travel the distance from swing set to graduation in the blink of an eye.
Our neighborhood high school is situated on the grounds of a large public park, along with a track, swimming pool, playground, soccer and baseball fields, and plenty of grass, trees, and open space. My son barely napped when he was a baby, so I spent many hours pushing him in the swings just so I could get a few minutes of peace.
Those were the days before smartphones, so I was surrounded by air and the sounds of dogs barking and parents cajoling toddlers and children squealing as they hurtled down the slide.
Sometimes, when we were there killing time on a weekday afternoon, the bells would ring and I’d catch sight of the high schoolers as they streamed out of the buildings, all gesticulation and exaggerated voices. They were another species. The idea that my infant son would, one day, resemble those impossibly tall, loud, independent creatures seemed outrageous.
Never gonna happen.
I mean, intellectually I understood it would happen. But the gut reality of it; him growing up, me with enough sleep and mental space…well, I couldn’t grasp it.
The days were long back then. And even though they’re the same 24 hours they always were, they’re not long anymore.
Update: Cathy left a comment reminding me that “The days are long but the years are short” is a line popularized by Gretchen Rubin, author of The Happiness Project, as one of her secrets of adulthood. I had forgotten about that! Thanks for the reminder, Cathy (and for your wisdom, Gretchen).
I love being the parent of teenagers. Christine and I recorded a podcast on the joy of parenting tweens and teens, because that story doesn’t get told enough.