I watched a man glumly walking what must have been a very small baby in the covered stroller he pushed around a nearby park the other evening.
It appeared to me that the world seemed very heavy for him, as it seems to many people now.
I wondered just why he was so glum. It wasn’t my business, of course, but I was curious, wishing his worries could be eased, somehow.
Maybe the baby wasn’t sleeping through the night yet. Maybe he’d recently lost his job.
Or perhaps, I thought, in a ridiculous possibility (but who knows?) that this was his fifteenth child and he had only planned on a few.
Hopefully, his glumness was only temporary.
Maybe it was just the heat of the night that had fried his spirits and sent him fleeing an un-air-conditioned home for the relative coolness and hoped-for distractions at the park.
The child he was pushing in the stroller had entered life, and his own, about three months ago, I guessed.
And then I realized that this moment in his life, and this time in my own, were like the opposite bookends of parenting.
Our younger child is about three months away from walking out of our daily lives and into the next phase of his own.
Matt starts college in September, and oh, how rapidly our years as parents have gone.
Our daughter had her turn in college a few years ago. She’s starting to look ahead to graduate school after a few years of working, paying her own way and finding out what she really loves to do.
I wanted to say to the dad who looked so weary, “I know today is tiring. I know the road of parenting, at this moment, seems long. But as good friends once advised us, don’t blink. It’ll be over far sooner than you know. And you’ll wish to have them back when these days are done.”
My husband shared the “Don’t blink” advice when he was the speaker for a graduating class at our children’s elementary and middle school.
“Don’t blink,” he advised the students and their parents as this class headed off to high school. “The next four years will fly by far faster than you could ever guess now.”
Each precious day throughout life brings joys and challenges of its own.
The parade of parenting moments, hours, days, years doesn’t last forever, even though, as parents, we sometimes wish they would.
The time goes fast. Soon the all-important parenting role is largely over, captured in a series of photographs, a movie patched together from moments and years, now flown.
The same thing can be said about anything in our lives, I suppose.
It will be over far sooner than you know.