When my children were small, we went to the beach a lot.
They had different reactions to the sand: one was scared of it and the other one ate it.
When they were small, I built them little paddling pools on the beach. I checked the tides so we would be there at the right time each day, and I dug holes in the sand that would fill up with shallow water that they could sit and play in.
We built countless sandcastles and collected rocks, feathers, shells, and to my horror, sometimes discarded crab claws. I used to find them in my bag later on.
When they were small, they cried whenever we had to leave the beach. Sometimes, one or the other flatly refused to move.
Other times, there were show-stopping tantrums.
Luckily, they were easy enough to pick up, and more often than not, I strapped them into the double buggy and pulled it back up the beach while they cried a little duet. Then, they would both fall asleep on the way home.
And it was such hard work, but it was worth it, every second, to remember that pure joy and wonder on their faces while they played.
They are getting bigger now.
Last Sunday, we went to the beach and we had an amazing time. We built a fortress with a king. But after a while, my eldest started asking to go home.
One day, they might not want to go to the beach with me anymore, and that thought breaks a little piece of my heart.
“I want to go home.”
On the evening of the day my eldest son turned nine, I realized that we were already halfway there. Halfway to adulthood. Another nine years would pass with the same speed and he would be 18. It goes that fast.
And I felt strange about that. It’s a feeling I don’t have a word for yet.
The next day, the children had school, and I had plans. I had things I had to do and things I wanted to do before work. But my youngest boy couldn’t go to school. His teacher was sick. He was with me until I dropped him off with his dad and went to work.
So, I did what I could, found ways to do what I had to, and abandoned the things I wanted to do. And on that day, I felt trapped. I felt envious of all the people around me who were seemingly so free.
But just before I went to work, I remember stopping to look at him. He was only six. And I thought:
Before I know it, he will grow up.
Before I know it, they’ll both grow up.
I reminded myself not to wish these times away. Because all the while, time goes by. And sometimes, you wish for it to go faster. And then you wish for it to stop or go slower.
And it doesn’t matter how fast it goes, because it still keeps going. And time doesn’t come back, not for anyone.
“I want to go home.”
I told myself:
Be patient. Every day is precious. And I will try to stop rushing.
The next day, I remember so well. After work, after school, at the end of the day, when everyone else was leaving, we went to the beach. We played until the sun went down.
He is seven now, my once six-year-old. And my eldest will be 10 soon.
How has it been 10 years since I had my first baby?
I heard a phrase a long time ago that stuck with me. And it keeps coming back in memes, in articles, in my thoughts:
“The days are long. But the years are short.”
Yes. Indeed, they are.