“Days turn to minutes and minutes to memories
Life sweeps away the dreams that we have planned.”
–The Lyrics To Some John Mellencamp Song I Really Wish I Could Get Out Of My Head
Ok, all of you that have been parents for a while now, go ahead and put on your “I Told You So” shirts:
I’m going to descend into banal cliche here, but there’s no way around it. Time flies with a baby.
She’s nearly 12 weeks old as I write this, and it’s like I just blinked, even though these weeks have been filled with scattered sleep, a sometimes cranky baby, and worry upon worry.
But at any given moment, her picture is on my phone, on my computer screen at work, and there’s nothing but love that passes through my brain. I just see how different she is from the last time I glimpsed her; how she smiled at her grandmother, or held her grandpa’s fingers, how she’s just thiiiiis close to giving me a real hug when I hoist her to my shoulder.
I want every single moment etched into memory, captured on camera, or literally any medium you can think of that might last through time. (no, really, any cool ways you do that? tell me in a comment. we’ll probably try it)
Last spring, Jessica and I maybe made fun of all the “graduations” seen on social media. Pre-school, kindergarten, 6th grade, 8th grade…hell, every single grade, it seems like. Even our church did a “step-up” day where kids graduate to the next class, marching down a hall to a new room.
This seemed like the age equivalent of participation trophies to us, the sort of thing we crankily say we didn’t do back in our day. (Then we grumble something about coddling and millennials and everything just shy of our lawns and your relative relation to being on or off them)
But now, I want a graduation every single day Collins is alive. I want to celebrate every time she moves up a size in clothes, laughs, follows me across the room with her eyes…you name it, I want it marked and noted and would honestly really appreciate it if you’d start celebrating, too. When did I realize this happened? When I saw a friend’s newborn-size diaper, and felt actual nostalgia for such a cute little diaper, what with Collins all the way up to a size 1 now…
This September, my friend Ryan posted about his daughter starting high school, how for the first time a new school year rang bittersweet, marking her last gap to real adulthood and all its freedoms and consequences and fear. My daughter was just a few weeks old at that time, and I knew he was right, but it’s so hard as a new parent to figure out what you’re going to miss, or need to remember, or hold just as tightly as you can.
I still have my young girl’s lifetime to keep answering that question, but in brief, I think it’s safe to say that it’s just everything. Absolutely everything.
So far, I don’t think there’s anything unique in what I’ve said here. Parents love their kids and miss every stage once it’s passed by. Not exactly a new idea. But there is something that changes my view here: age.
Ryan–who posted about his daughter–was maybe 20 when she was born. I’m going to guess life was throwing him so many curves at that age he couldn’t see everything. I’m 45 as my daughter sits on my lap, and I’m always hit with how much I have to make these memories right now. Right now. I’ll not let this descend into any selfish morbidity, but truly, every day with Collins is something I have to cherish and remember and project into her future.
She is a different type of daughter because I am a different type of father. She didn’t choose this. I never actually thought I was choosing it, either. But now I’m holding her and swaying this way and that, singing a lullaby I made up moments ago, most of the lyrics consisting of her name sung slowly in different (badly rendered) accents, hoping she’ll sleep on my shoulder so I can hold her just a little bit longer.
Different is what we are, and it’s what we make of it, too. I’m making it just as memorable as I can, right here, right now.