Around the time Ella was born, I heard a similar sentiment from many older parents–parents of teens, twenty-somethings, even grandparents: “Enjoy it now. Before you know, she’ll be thirteen.”
I enjoyed Ella, when I could, but really I just lived life. Day after day: writing, working, cooking. Each morning, I stepped outside to the same world of air and sun and sky, all the old things. Each evening, I drove home under the same stars and moon, so ancient and familiar–and consequently, so unremarkable. When I was away from home, my longing for Ella and Karen drove me to tears. At home, though, thrust into my duties, I balked. Changing diapers. Washing dishes. On my hands and knees, scrubbing the floor. I was filled, at the worst possible moments, with resentment.
This is not my life, I thought. I longed to be writing. Of course, we filled our lives with friends and family, the routine of love and food that sustains me. And yes, I was stunned by the speedy pace. Days, months, and years lapsed without my consent. We moved into our first house. Owen was born. Ella became a little girl. Karen and I learned to forgive–and so, to love–in new ways.
When something terrible happens, we comfort ourselves by saying, “This too shall pass.” To be honest with ourselves, though, we know the same applies to the best of life. The birth of a son. The elated, drunken spree. The summer’s first ocean plunge. Each fall, Thanksgiving. The winter pleasure of a merino wool sweater. Each spring, the poppies. This, too. This, too.
So I try. At my best, I enjoy it now. I let my children’s reverence for the moment, for simple old things, sweep me up into that joyful realm of irresponsibility and glee. “Look, Daddy,” Ella says. “A rock! A leaf!” “It’s just a rock,” I say. “It’s just a leaf.” But when I pick her up from daycare, I notice her cubbie crammed with rocks, with leaves of different colors: orange, red, brown. There’s something going on here, I think. Something important. So I help her gather her treasures in a bag.
Now, as I sit writing, the bag is next to me, at once a pile of refuse and my child’s miracle. Friends, Thanksgiving is a week away. I hope you find the time–and space–to slow down. I’ve never been the type to extol wisdom, but to echo the old ones: “Enjoy it now.” I know I’m going to try my hardest. I also know: This too shall pass. All of it.
Originally posted on Facebook.