When I had my first son, Ben, everyone warned me to savor each moment, because the time would fly by.
At the time, I didn’t believe them. After all, as brand new parents, my husband and I were dealing with sleepless nights, endless diaper changes and a fussy baby.
Each night seemed to drag on as we became acclimated to our new roles as caregivers to a helpless, tiny human. Time wasn’t flying, it was crawling and there were times I wondered if we’d be able to survive it.
But today, I can finally see what they were talking about. Today, as I packed his backpack and made his lunch for school I understood what they meant.
Today, my Ben turned 5.
How in the world did the time pass so fast? His baby days are but a blink in the rear-view window — did I really wonder if we’d make it? Because now it seems like it only lasted a second.
I can’t wrap my head around the fact he’s 5-years-old, I just can’t do it. In my mind, he’s three — tops.
But then I look a little closer at his school portrait and the reality of what I’m seeing starts to replace the vision of him I have inside my head.
His chubby baby face is long gone, replaced by the more defined and expressive face of a little boy. His once stubby fingers clenched into a fist are now long and careful as they grip a pencil when he writes his name.
His rolly belly has turned into the flat stomach of a kid who’s growing lean and athletic, just like his Dad.
I look at this little boy with his serious expression and I can’t help but think: “Where’s my baby? Surely it wasn’t so long ago I was carrying you on my hip and rocking you to sleep with a bottle.”
Five years has flown by.
Nowadays, Ben has adapted a new role in the house as a big brother to Sam, our youngest. When I look at the two of them together, I can see just how much he’s grown — especially since they look so similar to each other.
I say it all the time: They’re twins — just three years apart.
The problem with becoming aware of just how fast time seems to be passing is you can’t do anything about it. I can’t slow down their childhoods, as much as I’d like to.
I tell them not to be in such a hurry to grow up — that adulthood is overrated — but in the history of humankind no child has ever taken that advice from their parents. I know I didn’t.
So I am making a greater effort to savor their childhoods. I’ll take more photographs (if that’s possible), make more couch forts and read more bedtime stories.
But as for Ben, I’m not sure how much good it will do, that kid’s growing so fast, I’m fairly sure he’ll be applying to college next year.
So, happy birthday, kiddo and — for once — take some advice from your mom: slow down.
The world will still be there when you grow up.
Kasie Strickland is a staff writer for The Sentinel-Progress and can be reached at email@example.com. Views expressed in this column are those of the writer only and do not necessarily represent the newspaper’s opinion.