Friday, October 17, 2008
My Mother Was Not Crazy
I am 17 years old and standing outside a Shoney's restaurant in Columbus, Georgia. Just 30 minutes earlier I had walked across a stage and received my high school diploma. My mom is in front of me with tears running down her face. She looks at me and says, "It seems like yesterday that you were a little baby. It all went so fast". I reacted to this outpouring of emotion as any teenager would; I thought my mom was nuts. What in the world was she talking about? To me, those 17 years were a lifetime. Literally.
This story has been on my mind recently. Our daughter, Whitney, turned 16 years old on October 1. I am not sure why a girl's 16th birthday is a landmark, but it got me to thinking about time, and how it passes.
As a kid, time moves slow. It is kind of like dog years. An afternoon playing red rover with the neighborhood kids seemed to last for days. It seemed I spent weeks of my life laying on my back looking up at the clouds drifting past. A year.....usually measured as the school year....seemed to last FOREVER. In childhood, I looked at a calendar and Christmas, my birthday or the first day of summer seemed a lifetime away.
I have learned life moves faster and faster as you age. Whereas I used to see years in terms of the school year, I now see them as the time from one Christmas to the next. Every year, the time between when I cram the 10,000 pounds of Christmas decorations and snowmen Tracy has bought over the years into the attic and when I take it back down to decorate the house seems to get shorter and shorter. I am to the point where it seems like I am pulling it back down before my muscles have even stopped hurting from putting them up the year before. I now know why some people just leave their Christmas lights on their house year round.
When you get down to it, parents don't have more patience than kids; a week or a month just passes much faster for them. This is why our view of our daughter's 16th birthday differs so much from hers. The last 16 years have gone faster for us than for her. It seems incomprehensible that 16 years has passed since she was emptying bottles, filling diapers and taking her first steps.
I now know what my mother meant that day in the Shoney's parking lot. She was not crazy. She was a parent.