I am sorry to do this, and I won’t do it often—use this blog as a platform for a rant—but I’ve got to respond to a message I’m being bombarded with that merits a little constructive deconstruction:
“It goes fast.”
Why do people want to tell people with babies, “It goes fast”?
My first bone of contention with the phrase is its vagueness. By it, I presume these well-intentioned passersby (truckloads of strangers who have approached me to ask how old my daughter is, and then warn me, “It goes fast!”) mean babyhood. The idyllic phase of childhood and parenthood where “baby don’t talk back,” the child’s needs are uncomplicated, and resources are yet to be hoarded for school and extracurricular activities, seats on airplanes to visit relatives, clothes for every forecast and foray, and more school. If you can afford camp, you’re very fortunate.
By it, I think the women who say “it goes fast” also mean their own youth; their own early parenthood; their prime. They seem nostalgic about having a dependent, a cuddlebug, a child so cute, you can nary deny it whatever it wants—cuz that’s how babies are. The baby’s dependency on you is new and daunting, and it certainly does make you feel important, essential, more loved, more relevant to the world than ever before. This is amazing character growth. It should be a confidence booster, if all goes well. The dark side is you may occasionally feel self-doubting, intimidated, or overwhelmed by the responsibility and consequences of shaping a life, but, you power through, of course—like billions before you on the planet did.
From a perfectly logical standpoint, it, meaning time, does not go any faster one day than it did the day before, and it sure as hell won’t slow down toward the end, when we want it to. So, by saying it goes fast—and I know this is a figure of speech, but—what do we really mean?
We want it back. We want to pause. We want not just to remember, but, to be restored to perfection. Like a baby. As some people put it, we want to “crawl back into the womb.”
The only thing I’d really change if I could go back would be to never pick up a cigarette. C’est la vie.
To record. To inhale. To study with a magnifying glass. To shoot with a macro lens. I see the world close up—always have, since the time I collected bugs, and would sit for hours examining quartz stones to see every octagon of color and metal. I was a weird kid. I had a Crushed Rock Collection. I would sit on the sidewalk and crush smaller rocks with bigger rocks—for hours—and store it all in jars. (Maybe my mom indulged me for the same reason I let my daughter take 20 minutes to shred a napkin—I get my time to play with the computer, cook, eat, and clean. Amazing! Oooh, I can’t wait til she decides to collect something. I hope it’s something from Nature.)
Smell. Smile. Wait. Document lovingly in words and pictures. Be sentimental. It’s not a crime. Turn off the phone (a.k.a., “airplane mode”), unplug, keep your own version of Sabbath… In our case, unfortunately, I don’t think we as a family could commit to a weekly 24-hour period without electricity, because hubby works around the clock, so, I rely on annual vacations to unplug for a precious few days at a time—a year’s worth of Sabbaths in one fell swoop.
If you’re worried about time moving too quickly, slow it down. If you miss your childhood or any more youthful version of yourself, revisit it as creatively and sensually as you can. As I mentioned in a recent post, I’m lucky my parents are still living in the house where I was raised. I’m lucky my parents are still living together. I’m lucky my parents are still living. I savor time with my parents, and I study and record their features lovingly in words and pictures, just as much as I do my daughter.
If I could stretch this blissful moment in time, to make it last longer, I would. We have LO HE HA (love, health, and happiness—the slogan of my summer camp, featured here in a neat retrospective!).
Here are some of my macro shots to show you what life looks like through my eyes: