in: Advice, Character, Sunday Firesides

• Last updated: June 25, 2023

Sunday Firesides: It ALL Goes So Fast

When you welcome a child into the world, folks often tell you: “Savor this time. The days are long, but the years are short!”

This is certainly sage and accurate counsel. There are moments as a parent when you can’t believe how quickly your kids are growing up. 

Yet, the fact that a culture of “It goes so fast!” almost exclusively exists around the childrearing years betrays the way we under-appreciate and under-invest in time more generally. 

Kids are embodied hourglasses. They take something typically abstract and ethereal — the passage of time — and make it visceral and tangible. In witnessing the day-to-day transformation of a squirming baby into a strapping young man, you can’t help but countenance the rapidity with which time is marching on. Children are tokens of memento mori who daily sit across from us at breakfast. 

When parents get verklempt dropping their child off at college, it’s not only sadness in saying goodbye to a beloved companion eighteen years in the making, but a sudden sense of their own mortality, which gets caught in their throats.

We often think we focus so much on cherishing the childrearing years because they’re uniquely special. And they are. But it’s also because they represent the one period of life in which we’re attuned to the fleetingness of time.

Whether you’re childless or have a household full of kids, whether your children are toddlers or teenagers, whether you’re a new parent or an empty nester, every period of life should be special, or would be, if we recognized that it, too, will pass our way only once.

It’s good and right that new parents are told to cherish their childrearing years. But everyone else needs to hear the same message too. “Savor this time. You’ll never be 26 or 43 or 62 ever again.”

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