Even when our kids get up early, we have, at most, a couple hours with them before school and work. Then after school or sports and work, we have what, maybe a couple more hours? Soon enough they’re asleep. It’s pretty sad when you think about it…which is probably why we don’t think about it.
It’s cliche to say, but it goes by so fast. In fact, the sentiment is so old, the Latin saying Tempus fugit–times flies– dates back thousands of years (and it’s an important one, to be sure, one worth carrying with you always). We only get 18 years at home with our kids. And it’s worth noting those precious years are made up of an alarmingly small number of hours, that so much of that time is already spoken for by the commitments of life. And that it is constantly under siege too–as they get older and make friends, have interests, as you too have hobbies, and health concerns and things that come up.
As difficult as COVID was (and has been–stop fooling yourself, it’s not over), didn’t those early days bring this math home in a new way? Suddenly, you were home with them every day. Suddenly, you got a sense of just how much you were missing, how much time was taken from you and your family by the way life is in the modern world. We lost so much during the pandemic but one thing we did get was some time. Empty nesters got their college kids back for a year. Dads who never would have gotten paternity leave in the U.S. got to see their newborns become infants day to day. We got to see our kids during daylight hours–we got something we’ll never get again.
The beauty and wonderfulness of that should stay with us. It should haunt us. It should be the reason we take the occasional three-day-weekend with the family–especially when the kids are young and skipping school means less. It should be the reason we put the phone down when we do get time together. It should be the reason we don’t overcommit, that we don’t spend the best years of our lives–and their lives–unnecessarily at the office or running errands that could easily be automated or delegated.
So little time is left for us. Don’t waste it. Seize it.