Categorized | Features, Grandparenting

The days are long, but the years fly by

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Photo: Looking back, in a blink of an eye, Rayna, Miriam, Aaron and Josie (from l to r) will be parents themselves.


By Ellen L. Weingart

“The days are long, but the years fly by.”

Quite a number of years have passed since I first came upon those words, but I’m not sure there’s a better way of describing raising children.

Days — and nights! — seem to last forever when a baby doesn’t sleep, is teething or is sick. Endless feedings, endless diapers, endless rocking and walking, with constant thoughts of when will this be over.

It isn’t, not for a long time. Only the details change. Endless feedings are soon replaced by “just five minutes more — pleeeze.” Endless diapers are replaced by “just one more story —pleeeze.” And endless rocking is replaced by “but I’m not tired!”

That too passes, only to be replaced by “I’ll start my homework in a minute,” “everybody else can go,” and “it’s not my fault!”

Some days go faster than others.

Some days go faster than others.

Then the real sleepless nights begin. It’s a half-hour past when your child is supposed to be home — and he’s not. Now the hole you’re wearing in the carpet is due to your worried pacing rather than trying to walk a baby to sleep. Whatever happened to those times when all you had to worry about was running out of diapers?

Each stage appears to pass so slowly when you’re living it, but seems to have zoomed past when you’re looking back. And while you’re living those years and the responsibility and weariness that go with them, it’s easy not to relish in their joys.

The baby eyes that looked so deeply into yours. The soft little hand that held yours walking down the street. The pictures drawn just for you. The really good report card. The first driver’s license (a mixed bag of happiness and apprehension). The meeting of that someone special.

It’s ironic that we can’t see how quickly time passes while we’re living it. But we sure marvel that in seemingly no time, our children went from babies to parents of their own children, harried and wondering if it’ll ever end. It does, and in retrospect, all too soon.

While I realized the truth of “the days are long, but the years fly by” a long time ago, just how fast the time goes has become even more evident since I’ve become a grandmother. With my children and their families living several hours away, I get to see them sporadically. A baby changes tremendously when two or three months pass between visits.

Skype doesn’t mean we get to see him or her begin to crawl or hear first words. A toddler learns new skills that may be old hat and no longer special to his or her parents by the time we get to witness it.

Even a child starting school may have lost the newness of the experience when we next get to sit down and talk. As somewhat geographically distant grandparents, we see our grandchildren in sort of time-lapse photography.

Grandparenting changes the maxim. We know the days don’t last forever, and the years are speeding by faster than ever.




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