“Enjoy this time, it passes fast,” older adults always say when your kids are little. You never believe them, because the days seem to go on endlessly what with getting them dressed, food prep, diaper change, nap time, floor time, more food prep, more diaper changes, floor time, diaper change etc. etc. etc. and then (with any luck) bedtime.
That’s the way it went with my daughter, Sabrina. When my son, Max, was young time passed achingly slowly. He had developmental delays, and my husband and I kept waiting, hoping and sending vibes to the baby gods that he would progress. Every day that passed was another day that Max wasn’t walking or talking. Time had stood still during a period when kids are supposed to be speeding along, doing more and more. When Max finally took his first step on his third birthday, toddling across his bedroom into my arms, both my husband and I cried. Max would progress on his own timeline and nobody else’s, and we had to accept that.
Gretchen Rubin has this great phrase in her bestseller The Happiness Project, “The days are long, the years are short.” As my kids have gotten older — Max is now 11 and Sabrina, 9 — the years really do feel like someone’s pressed fast forward. Here we are again at the Jersey Shore, another Memorial Day weekend, it feels like we were just here! Oh, and another Halloween, how can it be here already, weren’t they only recently dressed up as Lightning McQueen and a skeleton? And how is it possible I’m once again sitting here at Max’s school spring concert? Holidays and annual events make you very aware of the passage of time. But then there are those everyday moments that make it acutely obvious that your kids are getting older. Like recently, when I was rummaging through Max’s drawers to find clothes he’d outgrown to give away.
One by one, I unfolded his shirts, held each up, eyeballed it and either put it back in the drawer or into a big plastic bag. Next, pants. Then I got to his pj’s drawer. I usually buy pajamas at least a couple of sizes large, so it takes my kids a few years to outgrow them. I reached for Max’s monkey pj’s. They’re my favorite, with a top featuring a monkey playing guitar and matching blue and brown plaid bottoms. He’s always looked especially adorable in them, but they’re getting tight and I knew they were ready to go. As I held the top in my hands, and thought of him never wearing it again, I dissolved into tears. I sat on Max’s bed and cried for a few minutes.
I mentioned my mom meltdown on Facebook, and some friends told me they make quilts with their kids’ treasured old clothing (for non-crafty people like me, there are companies that do this for you). So now I have a good idea of what to do with the boxes stowed in the attic that are packed with Max and Sabrina outfits I couldn’t bear to give away.
Meanwhile, the next night I slipped (er, tugged) the monkey pajamas onto Max. They just barely fit. He could have cared less — to him, they’re just something to sleep in. But for me, it was one more night of savoring my boy’s cuteness.More On