Friday, February 1, 2013

Don't Blink

A few days ago, my husband and I pulled up some home videos on the computer from the kids’ baby and toddler years. It was amazing to see how much they have changed in just a few short years, but it was also sad to see how much they have changed in such a few short years. It was sad not because I don’t enjoy their ages now, but because I don’t fully remember them being so little. As I watched, part of me felt like I was watching videos of someone else’s kids. Even though I had been the one behind the camera and fully present when those videos were taken, somewhere along the way I forgot about all of those times when they were just learning to crawl or walk or the adorable things they used to say as they learned new words. I forgot about how they would play with their toys, slowly evolving from the play mat to the Exersaucer to the standing push toys. I forgot about how much vitality and independence and love they had in their little minds. I have been so focused on the monotony of the everyday that I had no idea how much had actually changed.

I wonder if there was a way I could have appreciated those times more. I wonder if there was a way that I could have etched those days into my thoughts so that I wouldn’t forget. I think about how the first few years of their lives I was distracted by deployments and not only had to be their sole caretaker, but also had to figure out how to comfort myself. Did I spend too much time on myself? Did I give them as much time and attention as they deserved? Did I remember to heed the advice of others and “soak up these years because they will be gone before you know it?”

Sometimes I wish I could go back to those years and have them be little again. I wish I could change some of the decisions I made or some of the ways I responded to them. I wish I could have known in advance what I needed to do as a parent to appreciate their baby years to the absolute fullest. But I know that I cannot go back. I know that there is no way I could have known any of this in advance given my level of experience at the age I had kids. And I know that everything happens for a reason, to teach a lesson that can be used to steer us in the right direction.
Life goes by fast, whether we have kids or not, whether our kids are babies or teenagers or adults, and whether or not we actually do take the time to fully appreciate each day. All we can do is try our best to stay consciously aware of what’s going on around us and enjoy each day that we’re given. And one piece of advice that I will give to new parents or soon-to -be parents, something that I wish someone had told me, is this: don’t ever blink.

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