Let me tell you about my 2-year-old. He loves life. He wakes early in the morning, eager for the adventures of the day. He is inquisitive about the way things work. He transforms long-forgotten remnants of this and that into tools, and he builds wood-block cities where the good guys decimate the bad guys on an hourly basis. He has a kind, generous heart and notices everything extraordinary that adults religiously dismiss. He has a sense of wonder and whimsy for which I yearn. He exudes the very essence of life.
I love my 2-year-old. But the thing is, he just turned 13. It happened when I blinked. As my eyes refocus on this newer version of my boy, I’m acutely aware that so much has changed. He has almost matched me in height. He is the one recommending books to me, and I learn as much from our conversations (or more) than does he. He is closer to a man than a boy, and the rate of change is just getting kicked into high gear.
Yet when I consider the best part of that 2-year-old, the truest, most human, most alive part of his soul, it is still just as present eleven years later. The best part of my son is that which is eternal. It doesn’t slip away with years, although I’ve been granted the privilege to see it grow and develop. His joy, his compassion, his curiosity for life, his kindness and his creativity. Those things remain. They were formed from a substance more foundational than atoms. They are not bound (or marred) by the passage of time. The best part of my vibrant son, of my elderly grandmother, of you, and of me, won’t vanish with the years. It can’t be ended by a milestone birthday. Or even by a funeral.
Most of us have felt the twinge (or gut-wrenching) sadness that accompanies the milestones commemorated in our photo albums. We sigh, and with a mix of melancholy, nostalgia, sadness and yearning, we chant the parental mantra, “Time flies.” Yet take heart.
Yes, time flies.
But I don’t want to stop it. I want to climb on its back and soak up every inch of the scenery. I want to drink in the laughter, the tears, the soccer games, the visits to the ER, the blues skies and the torrential rains that this world has to offer. For when the cosmic clock is finally grounded, I will climb off its back, grateful for the wild and wonderful (full-of-wonder) ride.
So enjoy your toddlers, your teenagers, your grandchildren. Don’t miss one bit of the ride due to fear or regret. For the day is coming when the tarnish of time will be removed from us all. And underneath will be revealed the beauty, the creativity, the wonder, the whimsy, and the perfected love that was imprinted on our souls from the very foundations of the universe.