These Are The Good Old Days

The strangest thing about adulthood is that you’re constantly marveling at the passage of time. No matter how old we get and or how many years go by, we seem to constantly stand in awe of the fact that it’s happening.

Can you believe it’s almost Christmas? Where did the year go?

How is it 2020? Remember Y2K? That was yesterday!

Have you seen (celebrity) lately? When did he get so old?!

The same time you did, gramps. We’re all getting old. Time is passing by and every single day, someone is there to point it out to you as if it makes no sense. In reality, it makes all the sense in the world. What wouldn’t make sense is if time stopped moving or went backwards.

Can you believe George Washington came back to life? How did that happen?

It’s never more prevalent than when you have children. From the second my kids were born, I was waxing nostalgic for a time when they were younger. Each new milestone was met with a wide-eyed response of shock.

The first time my daughter sat in her highchair, trying to grip Cheerios with her tiny fingers, I remarked out loud how time had drifted by. It was just yesterday that she was drinking from a bottle and cooing like an infant as I cradled her in the palm of one hand. In that case, though, it truly was yesterday.

Soon, though, we were at petting zoos and mini golf courses. My babies were growing, walking, and interacting with the world in ways I never imagined. I’d stare at Olivia, her curky lochs longer than it was in my memories and I’d suddenly be taken back to the days when she needed a Bumbo device to help her sit in place. I could clearly picture her short blonde thread-like hair above her crusty pink bib. That was in my mind’s eye, though. My real eye was watching a kid, around four, doing four-year-old kid things.

old days

In that moment, I’d shed an invisible tear and miss those days. Sometimes I would turn to one of the parents with me and point out the passage of time to them too. Why should I be the only one bummed out?

“Look at them,” I’d say. “They’re getting so big so fast.”

What would usually follow was a back-and-forth of daddiness with us both asking where the babies went and how we wish we could slow down time.

That was close to ten years ago now. The days of the petting zoos and mini golf courses have become the new fuzzy pictures in my mind. The people I joked with in those moments about missing the olden days are either forgotten, gone, or faceless memories that I just can’t place. They’ve become the olden days.

I sit here now with my children, lamenting for those days gone by – the same days where I once lamented for the days before them. Those were the actual good ol’ days too. I just didn’t realize it. My little girl with her hairbows and headbands feeding kernels of corn from a candy machine to a goat were the times that were going “by so fast”. Yet, while they played out, I was too busy crying about the days where she ate Cheerios off a highchair tray. During the highchair memories, I couldn’t stop thinking about the days when I held her in one hand.

And today, as I sit here writing about those petting zoo memories, my daughter is in my house. My son is too. I see them both every morning and I say goodnight before they fall asleep. She asks me to make her dinner or do her laundry. I run to the stairs when she walks through the front door after a long day of school, eagerly awaiting her report on how her day went. We eat ice cream, watch Big Brother, and talk about current events in a way that makes me feel important.

The difference today is that, although I still shed those invisible tears for those mini-golf goat-fed memories, I know that these times – right now – are the tearful memories of tomorrow. I am just a few years away from standing in my house, without my young kids there as they are now. There will be no school bus to run to or laundry to gather. When that day comes, I’ll be sorely missing this day – the one I’m living in currently.

For that reason, I’m trying to appreciate them as they happen. I’m not wishing them gone or hoping for tomorrow. I’m not rolling my eyes and making jokes about how I “can’t wait until she has kids of her own”. Those days are coming. If the last 12 years have taught me anything, it’s that George Washington doesn’t come back and time moves on whether we like it or not.

I’m going to miss this. I know I am because I miss the days that came before this and the days that came before that. I miss all of it. If you don’t feel those moments as they happen, you turn around and they’re gone in a flash. I accept that. I know they’ll be gone. Perhaps, though, if I try to appreciate every second I have, maybe they won’t go by in a flash. Maybe, I’ll be able to prolong them just a little while longer.

They say that you never know you’re living the good old days until they’re over. Well, these are the good old days. I’m living them now and so are you. Cherish them when you can. If not, you’ll spend the rest of your life talking about how much you missed them.

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