As a new dad, I’d smile and nod as well wishers, friends, and random old
lady’s in restaurants, said something along the lines of “Enjoy her now! Before you
know it she’ll be grown and gone” or some other generic piece of advice I’d soon
forget. Honestly, it got old really quickly hearing the same thing over and over again
for the first year of each of my three children’s lives.
And yet, here I am sitting at my computer, lamenting about this very topic.
Like many of you, I’m incredibly busy with work; I travel, spend three
quarters of my day in the office, and even lend my off time to finishing projects all in
the name of being dependable. But, that comes at a cost. I miss cheerleading, PTA
meetings, and the homework meltdowns -- which my wife courageously takes care of
without batting an eye. I’m usually home just in time to help tuck the kids in bed and
make lunches for the next day. I know who runs this household, and it isn’t me.
Lately, I’ve been watching my seven year old—yes, seven—become her own
little young lady. And at the sake of sounding overly emotional, it makes me
incredibly sad. Emree is very much like me—fiercely independent, doesn’t handle
being wrong particularly well, natural leadership qualities, etc. It’s like watching
myself at that age, except I didn’t (and don’t) like catching bugs and watching Nerdy
Nummies on YouTube.
For the last week, I’ve been home from work as my wife recovers from a
medical procedure. This means I’ve been playing Mr. Mom: getting the kids up and
out the door for school, fending off my almost two year old son, cooking, cleaning,
running errands, and watching my hair turn grey. It’s been...challenging. And fun!
My wife even told me that I’ve been doing a great job, and it's also given me a deeper
respect for stay at home parents while further driving home the point that 18 years
will be gone in the blink of an eye.
Yesterday, I watched Emree go into our master bathroom and get into mom’s
make-up. Lipstick, blush, eye shadow—the whole nine yards. I let her have her
moment, but then told her to take all of it off of her face, immediately. I’m not here
to criticize anyone who lets his or her young daughter wear make-up, but that’s not
happening in our home. I like seven year olds to look like they’re seven. After a briefargument and Emree not understanding why some of her friends are allowed to
wear make-up and she isn’t, she scrubbed her face and went back to looking like the
baby-faced kiddo that she is.
And let's be honest, make-up isn’t going anywhere, but the years sure are.
Despite Emree’s best efforts to grow up as quickly as she can:
“Dad does this look cool or what?”
“Dad, when will I be sixteeeeeeeeen?”
“Dad, you better not vote for Donald Trump!”
There are still days like today. The ones where she allows herself to be vulnerable and not care what anyone thinks. The days where she tries unsuccessfully to teach me the coordinated hand movements and lyrics to schoolyard songs. Days when she strips down from her uniform and does her homework wearing only her polo, her My Little Pony underwear, and one shoe. Seriously. Days when she parades around with a pink tutu on her head trying to make her brother and sister laugh;
Yeah, one of those days.
I suspect these are the days and memories that everyone told me to cherish and hold on to. The days where I forget to reach for my phone in order to snap a photo, because I’m too busy, dying of laughter with my children. The days we dance around the kitchen to Taylor Swift. The days we feed the baby ducklings in our backyard.
|Josh and his family|
Those days are important, but perhaps more significant, they’re fleeting; and the reality that I’ll never get them back is hitting me hard. Before I know it, the house will be empty, dinner will be for two, and the hands of the clock will have overrun the sounds of carefree children. And all I will have are the memories that everybody implored me to make. So, if you’re out there, and are a new parent, allow me to offer up this piece of advice: Children spell “love” T-I- M-E. Spend it wisely and
cherish your memories—you don’t get a second chance at either of those two things.
By: Josh Hobson