We had just brought our babies home from the hospital to begin our family journey — although, up to that point it had been far from your typical beginning. We had started in a bit of turmoil; twins, born at 26 weeks, who had spent the first two months of their lives isolated in small plastic boxes in a neonatal intensive care unit, tethered by tubes and wires to devices that regularly sounded nerve wrecking alarms; however, were instrumental in keeping our babies alive. Not a fun time! But finally that was all behind us, and at last our family was together at home!
This particular day in early October was lovely and warm, and the sun was streaming through their nursery window. As I awaited the arrival of Matty and Meggie's very first visitors since their homecoming — Grammie and her friend, Babs — I stood there quietly between the two cribs, watching my babies sleep and rhythmically breathe. It struck me how precious each breath they took was. I could hardly believe they were home, sleeping so peacefully in open cribs — free of tubes and wires. And that there I was — at that particular moment in my life — enjoying some tranquility with my babies, after their turbulent entry into the world.
They were the most beautiful things I had ever seen — so perfect in every way — so tiny in their giant cribs. Little did I know then, that their entire childhood would be as fleeting as that very moment standing between their cribs was. Little did I know then, that those babies would never again be as tiny as they were on that very day at that very moment. Although time marches on (seemingly twice as fast for parents), fortunately, it's kind enough to at least provide us with precious moments. You know, those instances that just give you a warm and fuzzy feeling all over in real time and leave you with a memory snapshot to stash in the corners of your mind, which even in recollection will leave you with a warm and fuzzy feeling. The precious moment to which I'm speaking — observing my healthy sleeping babies in their cribs — was most assuredly one of my warmer and fuzzier life moments! I don't think I had ever been more contented! However, I also don't think I had ever been more tired!
While my newborns were in the hospital, I spent 10-12 hours each day at Albany Medical Center's NICU and slept (or I should say tried to sleep) at a Ronald McDonald House a couple of blocks away. Once they came home, it was an incredible amount of work just keeping up with feedings for two! Fortunately, the NICU nurses had both babies on the same schedule, so that helped in the beginning until Matty slept through a feeding and decided that his feedings were going to be happening on his terms! Well, it didn't much matter — since this was my first pregnancy and they were my first babies, I didn't know any better — as they say, "Ignorance truly is bliss," and how true it is! In my ignorance, I seriously didn't realize how hard I had it! It was much crazier that I thought at the time — but of course, at the time, that didn't stop me from complaining about how hard I 'thought' I had it! And, if I remember correctly, that's just what I was doing the entire time my mother and Babs were visiting!
I was kvetching about getting little to no sleep and little to nothing done; about my boobs being held hostage by two four-pound beings that were hungry every 4 hours; about never finding time or energy for hair and make-up! Forget about that; many days, I didn't even have time or energy for a shower — let alone hair and make-up! Well, you get the picture, after an untypical pregnancy and baby delivery, I was just a typical new mommy mess. Albeit — most of the time — a 'very happy' typical new mommy mess.
Unfortunately, for my mother and Babs, they were the first captive audience I'd had since arriving home with the babies and as so, were forced to listen to me grumble during their visit. Fortunately, for me (although I wasn't thinking it at the time), both my mother and Babs had 'been there — done that' themselves and could certainly empathize. They politely and keenly listened to me blather on about my postpartum self — never missing one beat cooing, oohing, and awing over my babies. On their way out the door, Babs turned to me and said, "I know the days and nights seem long right now dear, but the years will be very short. Trust me; my children were just that little; then, I blinked and it was gone." I smiled and politely nodded yes; however, in my mind, I rolled my eyes, and thought to myself, "You have no idea what you're talking about! This feels like it will never end!"
Young, naive, stupid — I don't know what my excuse is — but I couldn't fathom what she meant. It's not that I wanted the infant stage to end as soon as possible — I wouldn't have wished it away for the world. But I couldn't imagine then — 21 years ago — ever looking back and thinking that it all went by in the blink of an eye! But looking back — 21 years later — it all went by in the blink of an eye!
Now, my babies are 21 years old! How can that be? It seems to me that just yesterday they were 21 days old, 21 months — maybe! How can it possibly be 21 years? Wasn't I just changing their diapers and tying their shoes? How can they be graduating from college soon? Weren't they just starting kindergarten and learning to ride a bike? Wasn't it just the other day they believed in Santa Claus? I can't remember the actual last time I picked them up, or they snuggled on my lap, or I looked out the window and saw them swinging in the backyard — it makes me sad that I can't remember those last times! When did they stop needing love water and back rubs from Mommy before they could sleep at night? When did they grow up? I can't say for sure, but it all went by in the blink of an eye!
And now! Oh, how the tables have turned! We recently visited a local brewery with Matty and Meggie in celebration of their 21st birthday — yes, so that we could experience their first legal drink with them! A young fellow came up to the bar (next to where I was sitting) to order a drink for himself and his wife. He leaned over to me and pointed to his wife just over my right shoulder, who was sitting alone at a table, looking a bit forlorn. He said with a slight roll of his eyes and a bit of a sneer, "My wife is sad seeing you here with your children, feeling like ours, who are 'only' five and three years old, are going to be all grown-up before we know it." I turned to see that his wife had slightly smiled in acknowledgment of his comment. Directed at the husband, I first retorted with a bit of sarcasm for his insensitivity, "Yes, one day they're five and three years old, and the next day you're drinking in a bar with them." Then I looked at his wife and said with compassion, "They do grow up fast! I know the days seem long when they're little, but the years will be very short. Trust me; my children were just that little; then, I blinked and it was gone." I couldn't believe that the words Bab had uttered to me almost 21 years prior were now coming out of my mouth! The woman smiled and said sincerely, "I know what you mean." I knew from her voice that she was not patronizing me and that she had already experienced a glimpse into this phenomenon that causes the future to quickly and ruthlessly descend upon parents. There was not one trace of an eye roll, and I would venture to say there was a little twinge of sadness in her eyes. I knew she was questioning where the time had gone thus far for her babies — now five and three years old — but I also knew that she was confident that it all went by in the blink of an eye!
How old are your children? Is their childhood going by in the blink of an eye? Please comment below.
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