I was at a meeting awhile back with a man who told me that he had spent an entire weekend with his grandchildren and loved every minute of it. And then, with some hesitation, he also told me that he couldn't remember ever spending two full days with his own children.
It went by too fast, he said.
Anyone who has raised a child has heard this popular phrase from parents with grown children. It also usually seems to be coupled with the advice to "enjoy every moment." Each time this phrase is brought into a conversation I'm having with someone, I find myself pausing to think about the current stage we're in with our children.
As a mom and stepmom raising three kids, I can definitely agree that it all goes by too fast. It's a reality that has stuck with me. I try hard to "enjoy every moment" but there's also so much to do that I often don't even realize the moments that are slipping by. As a working parent, I sometimes find myself caught between obligations, deadlines and responsibilities at work and spending quality time with my children as a family.
So what is a parent to do? What can I do about the rapid movement of time and the moments I'm admittedly missing? I think being able to step back and make new choices can be a great place to start.
Lately, I've been struggling with feeling guilty because I don't think I've been spending enough time with my son. Sure, we've been home together during this period of social distancing, but I was missing real quality time. So one day I looked at my morning schedule and made the choice to move all of my meetings so that he and I could spend some one-on-one time together. We played a little tennis, got doughnuts and walked our dog. It was one of the best mornings I've had in a long time.
Parents are constantly faced with difficult choices about where to spend time and energy. While I love my career, I don't want to miss out on our children growing up. I often find myself weighing choices about reading new books and publications in my field or brushing up on the latest "Dog Man" book so I can follow the plot line when my kiddo wants to tell me about what he's reading.
Some days, I'm not sure if I'm making the right choices for home or work. But I know that I have to keep finding opportunities to soak in this time with our kids before it disappears.
I still don't have a good answer to the question of how to stop time from moving too fast, but I do know that being present and holding on to these everyday memories will ensure I can look back and know I was there.
Jessica Janssen Wolford is a mom and stepmom raising three kiddos with her husband, Eric, in Elkhorn. You can read more about her experiences on her blog, “A Step in the Right Direction.” You can also follow her on Instragram at @jessicaljanssenwolford.