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Time Flies When You’re Changing Diapers

April 6, 2013

Some friends and I were talking last night about how chaotic our lives are during this phase of parenthood:  the sports practices, the games, the school events, the homework…it never ends!  Trying to schedule time to get together with friends can be more difficult than coordinating peace talks in the Middle East or getting Justin Bieber to pull his pants up.

As we were lamenting our over-scheduled lives, one of my friends mentioned the fact that time was passing by so quickly.  She noted how the ten years between 17 and 27 were filled with so many changes and seemed to stretch out indefinitely, but that once children entered the picture time sped up, and the ten years from 27 to 37 have gone by in a flash.  The babies we swaddled are entering middle school, their tiny dimpled hands now adept at texting.

And suddenly we all paused, mid-complaint.  If the past ten years had gone by so quickly,  the next ten likely would as well, perhaps at an even faster clip.  Our days of carpooling and coaching will be over, our children off to college and flown from the nest.  These busy days will be replaced with quiet.  Conversations at the dinner table will evolve into increasingly brief phone calls.  Cuddles at bedtime will become one-armed hugs after winter break.

We all agreed that we would love to go back in time, to hold those chubby babies again, to smell their skin and hear their babbles.  That time has passed, relegated to photos and memories.  So, too, will this time.  One day we will look back on the preteen hormones and the three-a-week practices and we will mourn them.

We will blink and our children will be people.  People who may or may not live nearby, who may or may not have time to visit us.  We failed to live in and appreciate the moment when our children were small, worn down by sleep deprivation and diapers, just as we fail to live in and appreciate the moment while our children are older, distracted by schedules and obligations.  And one day, we will want to go back, and we will fail at that as well.

Perhaps it is human nature.  Perhaps it is parenthood.  But I hope that when I wake up tomorrow I can, at least temporarily, enjoy the exact phase my children are in.  Now, not in ten years.

Sunrise, sunset.  *sniff*

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