It always starts the same way.
“I saw this article you have to read.”
I read it, get inspired, get a little upset that I didn’t write my article before the original one, and then write my own. Often times, it comes from direct conversations with people instead of written pieces (which is why I think I would be an awesome Dr. Phil alternative). Regardless, it always starts the same way.
To be fair, much of my writing is reactionary (hence the talk show aspirations). I read something that doesn’t require a response, yet I provide one anyway.
This one was different. I have no reaction because said article didn’t precede my thoughts, it confirmed it.
Tina feeds our daughter, Hayley, whenever she wakes up in the middle of the night. Last night, Hayley’s feeding came at 3am. During this time, on days where I have to work in the morning, Tina is left with her thoughts and her iPhone, and the necessity of providing a calm, quiet, nighttime atmosphere for our baby. So she reads on her iPhone. Facebook, my site, and any parenting blog you can imagine.
She sends me links to the best blogs, and sometimes they help inspire my most popular posts. Last night, she emailed me around 4am, after the feeding was done, with the next article I had to read. She told me I had to read it at night, so I don’t cry anywhere else. Great.
In the afternoon, I tell her that I don’t want to read it, because, once again, I will be mad that I didn’t write it first. She responds with, “This is definitely one you would have written”. Again, great.
Hours later, she sits now in a different room, feeding Hayley once again. I bring her water and she asks if I’ve read “the article” yet.
She knows the answer. I haven’t cried yet, so the article remains saved in my “new mail”.
“Go read it.” So I do.
Except, I don’t. I go in the other room, click the link, start to read, and immediately inhale the entire article in one breath. I glance at a few key words in each paragraph, confirming every suspicion I already had about the piece. These were my thoughts, experienced by someone else.
I am not crying. In fact, I’m barely tearing. This was not a sad moment. It was a moment of clarity. I saw what I had already knew was my future, playing out in front of me.
Until now, no emotion has been attached to this progression. That all changed when I went back and read the rest of Tina’s email, where “the article” is portrayed onto our daughter. Now, I am crying.
At this point, I had every intention of explaining the article, but emotions will prevent that from happening without a hitch. I’ll give a link soon, but I don’t want you, dear reader, to get ahead of yourself.
The article is titled, “The Last Time”, and it depicts the author’s realization at how she always celebrates the “first” great moments in her son’s life, but never recognizes the last ones – like the last time he asks to be tucked in – before he grows up.
In the past year, everyone has offered some form of advice for my adventure as a parent. The “form of advice” is always the same: treasure every moment, it all goes by so fast.
There is not a day that goes by that I don’t hear those words in my head. I have told Tina countless times that we will relish everything that happens. We will not take a single day for granted. I make Tina take a picture of me and Hayley every time she falls asleep on me. We will not let these moments pass us by. To the best of our abilities, we have kept that promise.
But it is an impossible order to fill. The very nature of what we do as parents – create a new life and nurture it, let it thrive – will ultimately be our downfall. It is counterintuitive to everything we know about love. It goes against our entire nature as a spouse: to find someone and never let them go. But not as parents.
We cannot hold onto those who need room to grow.
Still, we try. We are told not to let our baby get too attached to our room, our arms, and the notion that we will literally do anything to get her to stop crying. But why? She already is on a collision course with independence from which we cannot steer her. Why not keep her dependent, enthralled, and attached to us as long as possible?
For two and half months, every day has flown by. Of course, it feels like yesterday when her little cries mixed with ours in the delivery room, but we have taken notice of the warped time continuum, and understand that the speed at which these days pass is expected. Unwanted, but expected.
We have done this to the point that, throughout her screaming from her acid reflux, or her refusal to sleep due to gas pains, we remain in love with the moments when she just lays in our arms. Everybody tells us, once again, that it won’t last. We have taken notice.
Tina’s recommended article, “The Last Time”, was a beautifully written, tragic acceptance about the journey we have begun. I am proud of myself that I was able to foresee this moment, and prepare myself mentally, but is that really anything to take pride in? Would it have been better to just be blindsided by this article?
I think not. I think that Tina and I have taken every step to preserve the beauty which is Hayley’s budding life because we know how fleeting every moment is. We both know that nothing – including our devotion to documenting everything our little girl does – will last forever. We both want more kids in the future, so that we can attempt to keep this cycle alive as long as possible.
Ironically, that’s usually the next piece of advice I hear from everyone. “Wait until you have one, then see if you want more”.
They’re wrong. I want more. I will always want more.
After all, it all goes by so fast.