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Growing Up and Growing Old: They Happen Too Quickly - cc VinothChandar | http://www.flickr.com/photos/vinothchandar/8515615966/

Growing Up and Growing Old: They Happen Too Quickly

Clichés tend to become clichés for their accuracy.

“Life goes too fast” is one.

A few weeks ago, a longtime family friend of ours visited us with her nine-month-old daughter. Seeing her in her mother’s arms, I was reminded of how tiny little babies once are. Since our youngest daughter, Mary Katherine, recently turned four years old, it had been a while since I had held a baby that age.

As I watched this little baby scoot across the wooden floor of our living room, I suddenly felt a sense of sadness that all our children have already learned to walk. As I heard her try to say something to her Mom, which was expressed more facially than linguistically, I felt a longing for the non-verbal conversations I used to have with my own children. I really miss that age.

Even though we were married very young by today’s standards, I always knew that this time would arrive: the stage of my life that I would miss having little babies—and the things associated with them—in the house. But I didn’t know until now what those things would be.

I know it sounds bizarre, but I actually miss buying diapers and baby food. I wistfully pass the baby section of the supermarket, and get a lump in my throat as I realize that I don’t need anything from there any longer. It’s a different stage of my life now, and I’m sure it has many wonders to come, but I sorely miss the baby-years already.

Happily, I believe that this epoch of my life made me a better man. Because as I look back, it is clearer to me what impact these days had on my soul.

It’s ironic that, as a father, you know that it is your job to protect your children, but I was always struck with the sense that it was they who were protecting me. These little cherubic beings, in all their baptismal innocence, were always a great comfort to me. I often found that the cure from coming home from a fallen, sad, and restless world, was simply to hold these little ones close to my heart. In my experience, there are few things more calming than to simply listen to a baby breathe. Innocence has a harmony, and that is what it sounds like. When they are about two months old, for a few weeks, babies inadvertently smile as they drift off to sleep. To me, that smile spelled the happiness and quiet tranquility of innocence.

You might think that, by the time you have your ninth child, the thrill of having a little baby in your house becomes less exuberant and more muted.

It doesn’t. It’s wonderful.

I relate my feelings for those of you undergoing the sleepness nights, the Pampers bills, the food warmers, and the teething associated with raising babies.

Embrace every moment.

Header Image CC VinothChandar

About John Clark

John Clark is a homeschooling father, a speechwriter, an online course developer for Seton Home Study School, and a weekly blogger for The National Catholic Register. His latest book is “How to be a Superman Dad in a Kryptonite World, Even When You Can’t Afford a Decent Cape.”
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