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It Goes So Fast!

It Goes Too Fast

I always say that before I had kids I was a great parent, I had it all figured out. When I was pregnant and mothers who had small children would say to me “enjoy sleeping now” I would think, what is wrong with all these people and the sleep now thing? Like I’m not going to sleep after my kids are here, enough already with the get sleep now advice?!? Eight years, it’s been eight years since I’ve slept through the night! And when I had a newborn and talked to moms of older children about my ideological parenting ideas which, for example, included my children not watching TV and they would say things like “well, a little time in front of the TV never hurt anyone.” And I would think to myself, “Justify letting the TV be your babysitter however you need to so you’ll feel better. Not my kids, they won’t need it because I’ll be engaging them in fascinating stimuli at all times.”  In the Guinness Book of World Records under the category “Most Hours of TV Watched By a Toddler” would be a picture of my daughter.

So I might have been clueless, but somewhere along the way, I at least realized that I was clueless about this parenting thing. I’d like to think of it as a 3 Step Program for Parents (there easily could be a 12 Step Program for Parents, but this is the abridged version because parents have no time for 12 Steps). The 1st step is Denial (examples like the ones above of this stage are endless I’m embarrassed to admit and everyone has versions of the same). The 2nd step is the most important one…Realizing I Am a Clueless Jerk.  Sometimes the Realizing stage doesn’t happen for years and unfortunately for others it never happens at all.  But you can’t get to the 3rd step in any way, shape or form until you land on Step 2. As a result of Step 2, I’ve tried to be open to things that parents of older kids say to me that if I was still in Step 1, I would continue to disregard completely.Step 2 ushers you to Step 3…Learning From Other Parents With Regrets Who Were Once Clueless Jerks.

While my family and I were on vacation on Long Beach Island this summer we spent endless time at the beach. I have an eight-year-old daughter, and 3 ½ year old and 2 ½ year old boys. My daughter was completely content to make sand castles or walk along the beach looking for shells. My two other little rugrats would do that for about four minutes and they’d be on to something more interesting. One day I looked up and they were at the top of the highest sand dune they could find and preparing to roll their wet bodies parallel, like a jellyroll, down to the bottom. Their dad was supervising this event. The voices in my head were screaming “stop them, they’re going to get sand in their eyes, not to mention that I’ll never get all the sand off of them, etc….” For some reason, I hesitated and surprisingly neither of them was bleeding or crying yet and they were hysterically laughing. The voices in my head wouldn’t stop though and about the time I was going to put the kibosh on this genius display, I noticed a group of couples next to me who were watching my boys and talking. I figured they were annoyed because the boys were being loud so I said, “I’m sorry, I’ll get them to stop. I was just heading that way.” One man spoke up for the group saying “Oh, no, please don’t! We are having such a good time watching them and talking about how much we wished we had soaked in every moment like this one with our own when they were little. Mine are in college now. It goes so fast.” 


It goes so fast has been ringing in my ears since the minute he said it. But unlike the infamous sleep now mantra that sounded so silly to me at that time, this one has stopped me in my tracks. Most of my parenting time, I have spent thinking how much easier my life will be when all of my kids will be finished with bottles, be out of diapers, be eating solid food, be able to dress themselves, be out of car seats, be all in school, be…fill in the blank.  Most of us are moving so fast to get to the next page that we skim right over the one we’re on.  Wow, you clueless jerk, sit down and watch your little rocket scientists roll their bodies down the sand dune and enjoy it, enjoy them. Imprint that day into your memory so when you’re 80 you will have some great memories of them to pass your time while you’re waiting in the lobby of the third doctor’s office you’ve been to this week (it’s reality people, have you asked your grandparents how they spend their time?).

So have I been wishing their lives away for an easier existence for myself? Sure, it will be easier (cont)

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