When you become a new parent, already-parents are guaranteed to tell you a lot of things. Guaranteed to be among these things is the statement: “Enjoy it; it goes so fast!”
I meant what I said in the title of this post — there is a shitload (that’s a business term; I have an MBA, people) of advice that comes your way when you become a parent… so why is this one idea so consistent?
I have three thoughts about this:
First, this is actually pretty solid advice. Be in the moment as much as you can, because babies really do change mind-blowingly, absurdly FAST.
Second, what nobody tells you beforehand is that in some ways it’s kinda good that it goes by fast. Babies are cute (sometimes; and sometimes newborns are super creepy looking… we can speak honestly about it — though mine was always beautiful, of course) and they certainly are soft and cuddly, but they don’t, well… do much. The fun really starts when they start to respond and react to the world around them. Don’t get me wrong, I tried my best to be present and in the moment with my newborn baby — but I also have to say she is WAY cooler as a responsive human instead of a super cute blob.
Third, I suspect there’s something about this statement — “Enjoy it; it goes so fast!” — that speaks more about the parents than it does the kids.
I think this statement is a reflection that as adults we allow ourselves to think that life is static, that it doesn’t really move or progress. The way we live our “adult lives” often allows this myth to feel true — we can go through our days and they look much the same: get up, go to work, come home, go to bed, etc. But when you have a kid, continuing to foster this myth is totally impossible (especially if you’re really trying to do #1). This is because children remind us that time never slows, and it never ever stops. My baby looks different today than she did yesterday. This week she’s undeniably doing more cool stuff than she was last week. I can’t ignore it, because I’m slapped in the face with the reality of constant newness whenever I see her (continually changing) adorable face.
Life is constantly shifting/growing/evolving, and maybe, deep down, many of us aren’t really OK with that. We’d rather just sit still awhile. But parents can’t do that (literally or figuratively), so whenever possible we project this melancholy, quasi-depressing, nostalgia-dripping statement of “Enjoy it; it goes so fast!” onto the newest members of our parent club, partially hoping they find a way to somehow do it better than we did, but also reveling in the fact that, at the end of the day, they totally won’t.