Near my desk, I have two framed picture collages of my children. You probably have something similar – it has a space for each school picture.
Mine has the early pictures arranged in a circle around the empty spot that will someday be a senior picture from high school. Kindergarten is at the top, third grade is halfway down, and sixth grade is at the bottom. My husband has remarked that it is in the shape of a clock – and a reminder that the years are ticking away.
When we introduce our children to our homes for the first time, older and wiser parents tell us to savor every moment. “It happens way too fast,” they tell us. We hear them, but we don’t listen. It is hard, in the moment, to realize that the moment will never happen again. In the middle of feedings, changings, tantrums and toddlerhood, we look forward to the next stage. It’s natural to wish for milestones, when our children will be able to be more independent. It’s only in looking back that we realize it does indeed happen way too fast.
In our family, the $10 backyard kiddie pool has been replaced by drop-offs at the pool club with friends. The Fisher-Price Chatter Telephone is now replaced by a real one with Internet access and electronic games. Barney and the Wiggles have made way for Pretty Little Liars. And during the week we are apart in the evenings thanks to a full schedule that rarely includes us parents.
I look at my children and catch glimpses of the faces I first fell in love with years ago, hiding behind a 14 year old and an 11 year old. I also sometimes see hints of the women they are becoming. While I am proud of them, I still sometimes miss seeing those little faces looking up at me instead of viewing them at eye level.
To help us all remember the olden days, we have started a new family tradition. Once a month, we sit down and look at 30 or 40 minutes of home movies. Until we started watching together, we forgot the treasures that were captured on disc. The first time we held our children in a hotel lobby half a world away, the first swimming lesson, the silly shows that were put on in the living room, complete with dress up clothes and a wooden spoon waved around for flourish, all hold hold special places in my heart.
Savor the moment
Those memories are sweet, but I don’t dwell on them too much. I want to spend my time appreciating my girls as they are now – bright, beautiful and just about ready to take the world by storm. I try to remember what my brother-in-law once told me. He is the father of two grown daughters, and recently became a father again. He said someone once asked him what was his favorite age was for each of his children. “Every age is my favorite age,” he said.
Time is indeed ticking away – too quickly those picture slots will be filled, including the senior picture in the middle. We remember the past fondly, and look forward to the future. In the meantime, we will try to slow down that clock at least a little bit, to savor the present.