What is it about life that makes time seem to fly by so fast?
A common phrase among us all is, “Time flies when you’re having fun!” And when seasoned parents speak to new parents they often say “They grow up in the blink of an eye!”
I have been curious why things seem to be going faster the older I get.
When I was a child, I remember it seemed like years before the end of the school year or waiting for Christmas to come again. From birthday to birthday felt like ages and some years I just couldn’t wait to “be bigger”. Why is it that now, as my 35 birthday approaches, that I feel like I blinked and my teens and twenties were gone?
I decided to do some reading on the subject and found some very interesting articles. One in particular stated that it all has to do with anticipation and retrospection. This resonated true with me. When we are waiting for something monumental to finally happen the anticipation can make it feel like time is moving in slow motion. Where as after it has happened and we look back on it, it seems as if time was moving at the speed of light. As we continue to age we pass more and more milestones. The more milestones we pass the faster they seem to have gone by.
As we grow up and get older we are constantly waiting for the next milestone. The next birthday, the new school year, getting our driver’s license, voting for the first time, graduating from high school, college, turning 21, getting married and having our first child. This is just to name a few along this journey called life.
I have definitely had a lot of fun in the past 35 years of my life and so I could believe that because of all that fun time has flown by. But I have also had a lot of sadness too. The most difficult to bear being the loss of my mother. As the anniversary of her passing approaches each August, I reflect on the last month of her life. The last 2 weeks in the hospital with her as she slowly faded away and her body succumbed to the terrible cancer ravishing her organs. Those two weeks in the hospital felt like an eternity. All of the waiting and wondering if she would make it through. Not knowing if each touch of her hand would be the last. The day she passed felt like the longest day of my life. Learning to go to sleep without her physical presence in my life anymore felt like an unbearable task. Singing at her funeral and greeting each guest that arrived to honor her felt like a mountain I would never finish climbing.
Now as I look back on it almost 14 years later, it seems like it was only yesterday. The fun and the sadness in our lives all seem to pass by quickly in retrospection but in the moments of anticipating the next stage they seem to drag on.
Since becoming a mom the milestones that I am anticipating are those of my daughter. It seemed like an eternity until her birth when I was pregnant. Then she was here and as I looked back on my pregnancy I couldn’t believe it was already over.
Her first smile, first words, first tooth and first steps all seemed to come so fast. Why are her milestones slipping by faster than my own? Or are they both going by just as fast but I am more focused on hers? I don’t really know. I suppose the latter is true.
Violet has seemingly grown up over night. When we first moved into our temporary house (housing provided by the government to those who lost their homes in the tsunami) she was only 19 months old. She couldn’t reach handles and needed help opening doors. Now almost 2 years later, she is closing the door opening the fridge and showing herself to the bathroom without any assistance needed. I blinked and she became a little girl rather than my baby girl. She will always be my baby, of course, but she so big now.
Witnessing the changes in her life both physically and emotionally is such a gift. Last month every day that I dropped her off at school was heart wrenching. She cried and begged to stay with me. It tore my heart in two each morning and each night as she would ask me if there was school tomorrow and I had to answer yes. The school year starts in April here and she started a new class (preschool class) on April 4th. The first day of school was so different than the days before that. She woke up excited to go to school. She told me she loved me best but loved her friends too. My heart soared that she had found a way to find happiness at school.
Now, she tells me in the mornings sometimes “Mommy, I am not going to say ‘No school today?’ anymore because I am a grown up.” I tell her that she can if she wants to but it’s o.k. if she doesn’t. She has told me she is not going to cry when we get to school either because she’s a big girl now. I again tell her that she can if she wants to and it’s also o.k. if she doesn’t.
When we take her to school she wants to walk in sometimes vs. being carried in. And this morning when we were saying goodbye after several kisses and spoken goodbyes she stood at the door to her class and said “mama, I’m not going to say goodbye anymore. I love you.” and then she walked into her class. She did pop her head back out though and wave and say I love you in her kitty voice until we could no longer see each other.
It is so precious to see her growing up. I sometimes can’t even believe how fast this has all gone. I imagined it feeling fast but not this fast. Some days I just want to stop the clock and stay in these moments forever. I want to hold her so tight and wrap her up in my arms and never let her go. But I know that I can’t do that. I want her to have a full life, exploring every opportunity that she chooses to explore. I am excited about reaching future milestones with her while at the same time wanting to hold on to these days as long as I can. I am always trying to learn how to hold on without holding her back.
The fun times and the sad times will continue to pass through our lives and I will probably look back on today a few years from now and think it was only yesterday that she was going to preschool. I know that time will continue to go by faster and faster the older I get and the older she gets.
As parents the days are sometimes long and the years are often too quick. Days of nursing, changing and late nights will seem so close yet so far away and one day she will be graduating from college and I will without a doubt be whispering in my heart “How did my baby become a young woman so fast.”
One day I will be writing about her weaning and I will again be hit with the heart wrenching awareness of how fast she has grown up. Today I will cherish the moments of the day. Tomorrow I will look back with fondness and awe at how quickly it all went by.