Today my “baby” is 34 years old.
He is also a new Daddy. I’ve watched pretty much in awe of the way he jumped into parenting with such naturalness and ease. Of course, he’s been waiting for this day for awhile now, and there have been some terribly sad days on the journey to this point. But watching him change diapers and help position the baby “just so” to help his wife with nursing and just being so hands-on from the start has been pretty amazing. At one point his mother-in-law, Joanne looked at me and asked, “Was David (Nate’s Dad) like that?” To which I replied with a resounding, “Nooooooo!” Feeding and diapering were pretty much my department. Holding the sleeping baby was his. Someone asked Nathanael how he learned to be such a good Daddy so quickly. He said, “I watched the videos and I paid attention in class!” Indeed. Its seems he did just that. He’s always been a learner.
All four of my kids are parents now and I’m super proud of the job they are doing. I love watching them with their littles. (And oh, how I love those littles – but that’s a story for another day.) They are in the wonderful, difficult years of raising families and they are doing it well, but sometimes I catch glimpses of the toll parenting takes. I see the tiredness. I know that it feels like this season – as wonderful as it mostly is – will last For.Ev.Er. It won’t.
I read a blog this morning by Rasha Rushdy titled, “Don’t let Me forget Their Littleness.” The author described all the sweet sights, sounds and smells of babies and toddlers. Toward the end she writes,
“Don’t let me forget their littleness. Because sometimes, that littleness is what makes me wish they would grow up faster, sleep for longer, be more independent, give me more personal space, give me some freedom, and let me just do what I want to do, for once.”
It’s true. For all the sweet reminders like Nicole Nordeman’s Slow Down, or the poem, Babies Don’t Keep, the sweet, exhausting, wonderful, frustrating and rewarding years of “littleness” just fly. At times you will want to hurry to the next stage, and the next moment you want to hold on, hold back time. You can’t. You can only enjoy each season as it comes and try your best to be all in it. Ann Voskamp says,
“Time is a relentless river. It rages on, a respecter of no one. And this, this is the only way to slow time: When I fully enter time’s swift current, enter into the current moment with the weight of all my attention, I slow the torrent with the weight of me all here. When I’m looking for the glimpse of glory, I slow and enter. And time slows.”
You can’t slow time, but you can slow you.
Sometimes I look at my four “babies” now all grown up and marvel at how they turned out. It certainly wasn’t because their Dad and I knew what we were doing, or were “perfect” parents (those imaginary people who haunt us…) Neither were they “perfect” kids (those imaginary children who belong to someone else…) I’ve heard it said that parenting is the only time you get the diploma before you get the education. “Here you go! You’re a parent. Now go figure out how to do it!” As a mom of adults, I can attest to the fact that I’m still learning! But if I did learn anything along the way, it was this; don’t miss the moments. Don’t be in such a hurry to get to the next stage, the next season, the next milestone that you neglect the here and now.
So, happy birthday to my Baby, my youngest. I hope you never stop learning, never stop paying attention, never stop cherishing the everyday moments, and most of all never stop loving, because you are so loved.