Would someone please tell me when time started flying at this alarmingly fast rate? When did weekends become blinks of an eye and entire weeks, no make that months, seem to be only a breath? When did years ago start to seem like just yesterdays?
I ask these questions because this morning at work, I’ve been exceptionally busy, with lots to do and not enough time in which to do it, and when I looked up at my clock, I suddenly realized it was nearly lunch time, and I hadn’t even stopped for my morning break. As I pondered where the morning had gone, it got me thinking of deeper things. Not just mornings “lost”, but of time passed, seeming so fleeting, then recalled with such poignancy.
I never understood that old line about life being like a toilet paper roll – the closer you are to the end, the faster it seems to go – until after I had kids. Then I thought I understood. Now, years later, as my kids are both a little older, I know I only barely comprehended the depth of that truth back then, and in 10 years time, I will look back at today and wonder at my own innocence, or perhaps it’s naivety?
I remember summers before the kids were in school when “Summer Break” meant nothing to them, and “summer” was just a warmer period of time for them – perhaps filled with a few more trips to the beach, and the excitement of more picnics, the Fair and of course, fireworks. I remember when my daughter called fireworks “Sky Flowers” and would try to sniff the air to smell the “flowers”.
Visions of my own children, skin and hair kissed by the summer sun, feet calloused from weeks on end of no shoes, bring back memories of my childhood. It doesn’t seem that long ago when on any summer day my friends and I could be found barefoot by the lake, fishing poles stuck in the squelchy mud, sandals tossed carelessly on the banks, rope burns on our hands from where we slipped on the rope as we swung into the lake, never caring that no self respecting fish would ever be caught by a bunch of kids more intent on cooling off in the water than catching anything that swam in it.
Hearing the familiar jingle-jangle of the ice cream truck brings me back to my kids begging for money for the “ice cream man” and further still to my own days of chasing that little truck down, bare feet smacking on hot pavement, pudgy fist clutching a couple of nickels, dimes or even quarters if I was rich that day and the big decision, do I get a Sno-Cone or an Ice Cream Sandwich, or maybe this time I want an Astro-Pop. How often I would have to hose off outside the house, bare arms and legs dusty, sticky streaks of multi-colored syrup making tracks down my hands and wrists and my mile-wide smile marred by the stains of ice cream consumed.
Watching my kids spend their summers attending structured “camps” or being cooped up indoors all day long makes me recall days of more innocence. My kids are of the “wired” generation; I’m not. My youthful summers were spent either exploring the countryside around me, or hopping on a bus to visit friends in the city, and eventually landing at the beach.
I look at my kids and wonder at what time and man have wrought. At my son’s age, my summers were spent with other kids, hiking, fishing, playing in the lake and just being kids. I couldn’t imagine being inside one minute more than I had to be. At my daughter’s age, I was already finding ways to get myself and my friends to the beach to get some relief from those hot sticky days of summer.
The pangs of nostalgia bring worries as well. As easy as it is for me to think of my own youth, as close as those days seem to be, it makes it even harder to face that my children are growing up.
I know I can’t keep them babies forever, and I know that in many ways they are “younger” than I was at the same ages, in many other ways, they are far “older” than I ever was as a child.
But, please, let me hold onto these days just a little longer? Let me cherish the days while they are still children; don’t let these times slip by too quickly.
My realization that time moves so quickly and that memories are precious is all the motivation I need to hold fast to these days when my kids are still my “babies,” while they still beg to be thrown around in the pool, and still want to hold hands as we take sunset walks along the lake shore.
These days will, all to soon, be yesterdays, seeming to have passed in an instant all too brief. Too soon I will be looking backward at these moments, thinking of them with great nostalgia and wondering where the time has gone, how did it slip by so quickly.
Someday, in a future that seems far away now, I hope to see my children, as they become parents themselves, and then, I will have come full circle, then, perhaps, time may slow down just a little bit.