Friday, January 22, 2010

Sunrise, Sunset

With its poignant lyrics and haunting melody, the song "Sunrise, Sunset" from the musical "Fiddler on the Roof" is arguably one of the most moving songs ever written. No wonder it's played so often at weddings, usually to accompany the father-daughter or mother-son dance. "When did she get to be a beauty? When did he grow to be this tall? Wasn't it yesterday when they were small?" Time flies by so fast and children grow so quickly from infants to toddlers to youngsters to adults. Some of the wisest parenting advice I've gotten was from my mom, who got it from her mom: "Don't try to rush them into the next stage. Just enjoy each moment as it is."

This seems like simple enough advice at first, but I'm finding it more difficult than I expected. When Ryan began to focus on my face, I eagerly looked forward to his first smile. When he began to smile, I looked forward to his first giggle. When he giggled, I couldn't wait for him to belly-laugh. I have to consciously stop myself from thinking "I can't wait until he..." and enjoy what he's doing right now. Because what he's doing right now is amazing! Sure, it will be great when he can sit up by himself. But how much do I love watching his bobblehead attempts to gain control of his own head? How exciting is it to watch him follow Daddy with his eyes as he's propped up on our bed in the morning while we're getting dressed? What a wonderful feeling it is when he's on my shoulder, working hard to hold his head up and take in everything in the room, but then he drops his head and nuzzles into my neck, exhausted from the effort. Those sweet moments will be gone so quickly, I want to savor each one as it happens, not look past it in anticipation of the next stage.

I am so fortunate to live in an age of digital photography and cheap video cameras so we can record these fleeting moments and savor them again and again. It astonishes me how quickly I forgot how tiny Ryan was when we brought him home from the hospital - but I have dozens of photos of his first few days at home and a video of his birth to remind me. I will never forget seeing his first dimpled smile, but I can share that image with others because I have photos of that smile. I can even picture the day, a few years from now, when I show Ryan his baby book and all the photos of his earliest days.

But I won't think about that too much yet. I'm too busy enjoying the here and now.

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