“Enjoy This Time”

After a few cheapo digital clocks pooped out in my bathroom, I settled for this:

clock two

After which I was startled one morning by a consistent, soft, uniformly methodical metronomic sound.

It was an old fashioned clock ticking!! Something about this relatively inconsequential bit of “analog” in my otherwise digital world felt kind of meaningful, in a “some things still happen the old-fashioned way” sense. Having gotten on the theme of “time,” I decided to share a Facebook conversation with you. Part of my way of processing this bullet train of time I seem to be on called parenting teens.

Jill from Baby Rabies (who has three kids under six including a three-month-old) asked:

When you have a small baby, you get a lot of “enjoy this time” comments, especially from parents of older kids. And I know they all mean well. I do. But sometimes I feel like… this sense that I’m at this stage of my life that I’m going to mourn the loss of. It feels like I’m holding tiny hands and walking toward a cliff. And each step I’m like, “enjoy this moment, they told you to enjoy it, it doesn’t get better than this.” And it’s kind of… a sense of dread? Because there’s no coming back. I have a blog post brewing about all this, but just wanted to see if any other parents of littles felt the same way.

And I stumbled through this answer:

You know, I don’t know if I can articulate it (or I probably would have written a blog post about it!).  When my kids were infants, I would stare at them — at that unique curve of their neck into their big infant heads; at everything about them, and think “is this what I’ll look back on and say “you’re gonna miss this?”? // I would get SO irritated when people would say “oh just wait till (s)he’s a teenager // I wouldn’t understand that look people with teenagers/grown children/etc. would give me (a mix of wistful/condescending (sometimes)/you don’t know what you’ve got-ness).  I am a big believer in the fact that there is a certain amount of time you need to spend with your kids …. i.e., it’s not all just about “quality time” – it’s the rides in the car; the plain moments and yes the highly irritating moments. I DO miss it — although I can’t say in those moments I was “savoring” / “enjoying” (except the long long nursing sessions which were so intimate ….)  what I can say is that for me the experience of parenting teenagers ……. leads me to be one of those women who gives the look I talked about above ……. if I don’t take care to stop myself.

How about you? What would you say in response to Jill?


3 thoughts on ““Enjoy This Time”

  1. I was in my forties by the time I got to have kids (now 17 and 14), so my friends were all raising teenagers as I was learning to love changing diapers. I think i may have actually shouted “Oh, shut up!” at the hundredth person who dared step on the pure enjoyment of holding, playing with, kissing or chasing the slobbering, pooping, tantrumming, utterly gorgeous creations God had finally decided to let me parent.

    And I did soak up that time. My whole family drank in the intoxicating blend of daily joy and terror and now – even though that time is “gone” – we all keep drinking it in by playing it back to each other. We share favorite stories. We have in-joke catch phrases that immediately bring back that sweetness, goofiness… that sense of completely, no matter what, belonging to each other in a world were most “be longing” for someone, anyone to really love them.

    So to Jill: I can identify with your image of “It feels like I’m holding tiny hands and walking toward a cliff.” But I recommend that you store up your stories. Share them in the moment and all along the way as you go. Illustrate them with as many photos and movies as you can take. That way, when that tiny hand is grappling with a college application (as in our house just now), it will still reach out to touch base for help, even as it’s letting go.

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