Parents who have been around the block a few more times than I have keep telling me the same thing.
“They grow up quick.”
But I don’t know if I’m really buying that. It can’t really be that quick. Do you know how long it takes a 4-year-old to eat his breakfast or use the restroom? On average, kids under the age of 6 spend 89 percent of their lives on a toilet. There’s nothing quick about that.
Whether I want to admit it or not, those parents are right. It’s just that sometimes speed can be deceptive. If you fly across the country in a passenger jet it seems like you’re looking at the same river forever. Unlike a car, there are no blurred images just outside of your window to remind you of how fast you are going. But in just a short time, your trip is over.
There aren’t many blurred images to remind parents that their kids grow up fast. It’s a deceptive speed. If we’re not careful, we’ll begin to think that we’re stuck looking at the same dirty diaper and messy room forever. As a result, we will begin to take seemingly insignificant conversations for granted. And then we will wake up to find out that the trip is over.
Time really does fly.
And there’s nothing we can do to slow it down. We shouldn’t want to. But we can train ourselves to enjoy time and redeem it as it blows past us. That training can be difficult. The life of a parent is not all hugs and butterfly kisses. There’s also grape juice on the rug, scraped knees and seemingly endless conversations about Batman.
If we play our cards right, the grape juice stain on the rug will bring a lot of laughs during a Thanksgiving meal a few years from now. Our reaction to all of those scraped knees will help our kids when they are grown and dealing with greater difficulties. And if we’re not willing to put our phone down to talk about Batman with a 7-year-old we shouldn’t expect that same person to talk to us about dating when she’s 17.
Time really does fly.
That should make us ask ourselves a few questions. Where is time going? Is it crashing into the side of a mountain? Is it moving you apart from your children forever? Or is it going someplace? Is it taking your family to a beautiful destination where even geography can’t sever the bond you have developed?
A few weeks ago I ran into a guy I haven’t seen in years. We did the usual catching up that guys our age do. I asked about his kids and he asked about mine. That’s when I felt like the worst parent on the planet. His question that started it all was simple enough.
“How old are your boys?”
“Seven and two. No, wait. Seven and three. Hang on a second. Seven and four. Yeah. That’s it. Wait! He’s already four?!”
He didn’t say much after that. He just looked at me like I was the worst parent ever.
I’m not the worst parent ever.
It’s just that sometimes I forget that time really does fly.
Last weekend, we set our clocks back an hour. It’s that time of year when parents of young children convince ourselves that we get an extra hour of sleep. It’s also that time of year when those same young children wake up ready to attack the world at 5 in the morning.
That happened the other night.
I wanted to send him back to bed and enjoy another hour of sleep. But I remembered that time flies. That boy who just a few weeks ago I thought was only 2-years-old crawled into bed with me. It was one of those moments that you cherish as a parent. A moment you never want to end. He laid next to me as I read the Bible. He laid on me as I prayed out loud over him.
I didn’t ask God to make that moment last forever.
I just asked him to help me make it count.
So teach us to number our days that we may get a heart of wisdom. Psalm 90:12 (ESV)