Last week Mya had her first birthday. We have already had a whole year with her. How can this be possible? I am sure I’ve only just finished doing the whole IVF thing. This year seems to have whizzed by in a blur but some aspects have felt longer. When you become a parent, you quickly realise that time behaves strangely. On one hand, it seems to fly by at an alarming rate, and on the other hand, it can feel like an eternity. I think I have an idea of why that might be but first, let’s look at the bits that go fast and what feels slower. See if you agree or you have any to add.
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Which Aspects of Parenthood Go By Slowly?
For me, without a doubt, it is the night times. Argh, neither of them like/liked to sleep. Maybe it’s breastfeeding? Maybe it is some certain combination of genetics? Either way, as babies, they both sleep about an average of an hour at a time. Mya will also take around three attempts to get back into her cot as well. I honestly think bomb disposal might be easier. As we used to say when we first had Finley and everyone was telling us how quickly the time goes by, when you are awake for most of it time feels like it is going more slowly.
I would like to preface this by saying that it is not all types of play. I bought Finley Marble Run because I wanted to play it. Some games though, like playing cars together, start off ok but then become very monotonous after about half an hour. Especially when you are told you’re ‘not playing it right’. Finley went through a phase of always wanting to play Hide and Seek before bed when he was a toddler. He would either always hide in the same place (behind the curtains which only went down to his waist) or the place he had just found me in. He’d often ask Mark to play and then get too scared to look for him. Mark was crammed into the airing cupboard for a good while once so from then on he decided to hide in more comfortable places where he could watch football on his phone.
I love weaning. I find it quite exciting to cook new foods and see which ones my babies prefer. But the relentlessness of cooking, the rejection of the meal so cooking something else, then the clearing up of the table, chair and floor three times a day is a lot. Finley used to just stop eating if he had finished. Mya likes to assert her dominance by squeezing the food until it is crushed into small pieces then throwing it on the floor. Even if you can see she is finished and try to take it off her, she won’t let you. For her, that is an essential part of the process in order to establish power.
So, What Goes By Quickly?
Overall, I would say that the years are going by very quickly. Finley is nearly seven and, in many ways, I still feel like a new parent. They say that the ‘days are slow but the years are fast’ and I think that can be true when you first have a baby. I definitely felt that way more with Finley since, when he was born, everything revolved around him and his schedule whereas poor old, second-born Mya is on the school run and swimming lessons and hockey training, which makes the days go by very quickly.
Like I say, Finley is nearly seven. I noticed a big shift when he turned six. He was now more into what was cool, like Minecraft, Mario and Sonic rather than cars and dinosaurs. I felt really sad about this because it was like a phase of his childhood had finished. I was used to him being the youngest and him being, ‘only three’ or ‘only four’ but that doesn’t really apply anymore.
And if I thought that was fast, then his sister is catching up rapidly. Each month in a baby’s life is full of such big changes and growth that you have only a few weeks to enjoy each phase. I couldn’t believe the difference between the newborn photo and her 12 month photo on her party banner.
Day-to-day parenting can be chaos. You’re trying to make sure everyone is dressed and fed and out of the house on time and the evenings aren’t much calmer. You might have homework, reading, spellings to do, dinner to get ready, baths to be had and then all the fun of trying to get them to sleep. Both of our babies seemed to have a passionate hatred of socks so we’re constantly finding that there is one missing and we don’t know when it was removed. Finley seems to think that doing arts and crafts is fine at any time (like 2 minutes before we need to leave the house) rather than when he has time to sit and take his time. I’m often calling out, ‘Just leave it, I’ll do it later,’ as we’re stumbling out of the front door but that mystical time never appears.
How do you balance the desire to enjoy every moment with the reality of parenting?
It can be easy to get caught up in the day-to-day chaos of parenting and forget to appreciate the little moments that make it all worthwhile. But if you take the time to slow down and savour the time you have with your child, you'll find that the years don't slip away quite so quickly. Slowing down can seem like a scary thought. For example, if I miss one day of washing there seems to be some sort of mathematical conundrum that results in me trying to catch up for the next two weeks somehow. However, I think of slowing down as trying to slow my mind down when I am with Finley and Mya. Instead of trying to plan the next week’s shopping list or remembering whose birthdays are coming up this month or what time I need to be up in the morning, I concentrate on remembering Mya’s smile as it is right now, or how Finley’s voice sounds at this age, and he funny things he says.
So why is it that some aspects go so quickly and some bits feel slow? Like I said at the beginning, I think I have an idea and it comes down to the old adage: time flies when you're having fun. All the fun bits fly by and the hard work seems to take a long time. If you are one of the many parents who say that the years just disappear then you are clearly someone who is having a lot of fun and enjoyment raising your children. And remember that even though it may feel like time is slipping away, you still have plenty of moments to create memories that will last a lifetime. When I am old (well, older), I will remember all of the moments where we were laughing, or reading together, or the first time they went on a plane, rather than my shopping list or how many hours I slept the night before. And I’m sure these are the things that Finley and Mya will remember too.