Can I be real for a second?
If I hear the above line one more time, I just might punch someone in the face.
That sounds bad. But hear me out.
Can I get a "amen!" from the new parents if you've ever heard one of these lines?
"Blink and she'll be four!"
"My kids are in college now. Tomorrow you'll be saying the same thing."
"Enjoy ____ now! It's doesn't last long."
"Wow! I can't believe she's already _____. Where has the time gone?"
I get it, okay?
Just as any human being on the planet can talk about the weather with another person because it's something they can both obverse (and discuss), any parent can (and usually does) say to a fellow parent of younger children any of the above phrases. After all, you don't usually hear someone saying "Man my kids childhood just dragged on forever and a day. I didn't think we'd ever be empty nesters."
I understand that it's supposed to be small talk; that commenting on the fact that kids do seem to grow at an unreasonable rate is just one of those generic things you say to someone who has kids.
But it really bugs me.
Unfortunately, I'm not a wizard and therefore cannot slow down time, even when I wish I could. I don't need EVERYONE telling me that the moments I have with my daughter are fleeting and that they will be gone before I know it.
And the fact that I work full time and feel like I hardly get to see her during the week just makes those comments sting that much more because I'm already missing SO much. I don't need or want to hear strangers tell me that her childhood will be gone before I realize it.
And even though it's quickly becoming a pet peeve of mine, I caught myself starting to say the old line to a friend of mine with a newborn who was talking about how much her baby sleeps. But I stopped midway through my sentence. I had been about to say "just wait! You'll be missing those newborn snuggles in a couple of months."
But then something occurred to me: I'm not helping her.
Those words aren't encouraging to her. All they do is make new moms feel a kind of frenzied desperation that makes us lunge for our cameras in an attempt to capture on film what we feel will likely fade from our memories.
But over the past few weeks I've had a couple of people say some different sentiments that I want to try and imitate. A nurse who was drawing my blood had just asked me how old Sarah was. I replied "almost 9 months" and braced myself for the inevitable truism. Instead she said "that's a fun age" and left it at that.
I was flabergasted.
Then a client asked me about my daughter and she gave me some advice. But not in a way that was intrusive: she just said "if I could do it all over again I would have ______."
It made a big enough impression on me that I whipped out a notebook and hurriedly scribbled down what she said.
Both of these women, though strangers to me, encouraged me by going against the grain and saying something that was helpful instead of something depressing.
Saying my baby is at a fun age may carry the same sentiment, but it doesn't have such a negative backdrop. And just because someone gives you parenting advice doesn't mean you have to take it; take it with a grain of salt and if it feels like sound advice, follow it; if not, ignore it. But in my opinion, if I can get free advice from someone who can now see their parenting triumphs and failures in 20/20, I better listen up.
So, with that in mind, I've decided to make a conscious effort to be optimistic about Sarah growing up.
So instead of crying when I packed away her newborn clothes, I thought about how much closer she is to the hiking boots I'll buy her so she can hit the trails with me.
And now that her babbles are starting to sound more like words, I think about how much closer I am to hearing her say "I love you!" for the first time.
And when she stopped that newborn reflex of gripping onto my finger so tightly every time I touched her tiny palm, I thought that I'm one step closer to her being able to hold my hand and draw me a picture.
And when she really grows up, and goes off to college and moves away and gets married, I will try not to be sad. Because I'll be that much closer to getting to be her best friend like I am now with my own mother, and maybe I'll get to watch Sarah become a mother herself and sing to her own baby. And I'll watch her rock her little one in the rocking chair and sing the same songs I sang to her. And I will get to live it all over again through Sarah's eyes.