Monday, May 29, 2017

Parenthood: Week 206 – Four Years Old

When you become an adult the passage of time is different than when you are a kid. Each year when you are a child, you are in a new grade each year, you constantly grow out of clothing. There clearly defined milestones like graduation that mark the time as life goes on.

When you become an adult, your job unlike school for most of us doesn’t have a clear marking of time. As a teacher, I have the structure of the school year but most people do not have. And like most people, my job doesn’t have an end point like high school graduation for a high school student. As an adult clothing wears out but slower than when you grow out of clothing as a child.  This marker of time moving forward becomes less significant.

Life as adult becomes a wash of days, months and years, and there are moments like weddings and funerals that mark life moving forward. However, time is felt differently because the personal growth is not as easy to notice and in the morass that is often adulthood, we focus less on time and more on life.

When you have a child, all of this change. It’s not your clothing, and these aren’t your milestones, they are your child’s, but you feel them as partially your own. It’s often said that the first birthday party is as much as a celebration is for the parents who have gotten through what is often one of years of one’s adult life, as it is for the child. Time moves more clearly from tummy time, to crawling, to walking and finally to running. Clothing that once was adorably oversized becomes comically undersized in what seems like, no time at all.

Everyone tells you to take the time to enjoy the moments with your baby, your toddler, and your pre-school age child because they say it will go “so quickly.” It’s hard to believe that when you are struggling to put your child to bed and can’t wait for the time when your child is potty trained and you don’t have to change diapers anymore. In the moment when the struggles are the worst, the age of your child, the developmental stage that she is in, seems like it will last forever. But it doesn’t. And as soon as you master whatever parenting struggles you feel at a certain developmental stage, your child grows out of it.

The thing is, they are right. It doesn’t feel like Ollie was born four years ago. It feels closer to a month ago. It’s not that I don’t remember all of the amazing moments of the past four years. I do, but it just went so fast. I made sure to stop myself, and take the time to do nothing but watch him breath as a baby, and play as a toddler. However it still feels like it got away from me. I love Ollie as a four year old, but I cherish the memories of how he was as a baby and if I could experiences of holding him as a baby, even in the worst of a crying fit, I would pay handsomely for that experience.

Ollie turned four last week. I don’t feel like I’m completely ready for this. I felt more comfortable with him being three even right when he turned three than I do with him being four. But I’ll get there.

Parenthood is accepting change, knowing that the best is finite but also yet to come. It’s knowing that experiences may never be able to be revisited but also having faith that while these memories may be forgotten, these moments will have impacts that will last forever.

Ollie, you are still my special little guy. I am so proud of you and I hope that I earn your pride with the choices I make. I love you more than ever. Never forget that you matter and that you are powerful. You can change the world for the better. I know that for a fact because you have changed my world and brought happiness and meaning to my life and for this, I will always be grateful. Happy Birthday.

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