Sunday, February 28, 2010

By In A Blink

There's a great line in a not great movie called "Meet Joe Black," spoken by Anthony Hopkins, who plays an an aging media mogul/family patriarch.

At the end of an elaborate birthday party that will cap an elaborate life, he says to those gathered around him, "Sixty-five years... don't they go by in a blink?"

The line was so perfect it almost saved the movie, and while I'm (thankfully) not yet into my seventh decade of perspective, I can say without question that the years do, in fact, go by in a blink.

When I started this little writing project Madison had just turned 5 and Ava was 3. Next month they will be 9 and 7. The growth, development and changes we have experienced are hard to put into words, even after a few hundred blog posts trying. They've become people, fully-fledged little people, and as has been the case since the first of two times we left a hospital carrying a recently-arrived passenger in a bucket seat, they basically define our lives.

I've been focused lately on the blink, and particularly on not having my eyes closed for too long while it's happening. There's a difference between showing up and being present, and in an age of cell phones, e-mails, information overload and increasingly round-the-clock work and life demands it can be easy to lose track of that.

Taking Madison to lacrosse practice and spending most of the hour staring down at my iPhone is not the same as sharing her experience. It's not really watching TV with Ava if the show is a background track to go along with an open laptop. And even if we're sitting right next to each other and her eyes are glued to the screen 95 percent of the time, the other 5 percent - when she turns around to see if I saw the thing that just made her laugh - matters. I'm trying to remind myself to lock into those moments, to see them as opportunities instead of just incremental or incidental interludes, because one way or another, one thing is certain. Soon enough, they'll be gone.

The other side of the coin sometimes feels interminable, hearing the word "Dad?" uttered pleadingly from some distant corner of the house for the 42nd time in the hour since I got home from the office. Hitting the couch after a long day and an extensive reading/bedtime process only to be confronted with a "can I have some water?" request rattling down the staircase just as I become one with the cushion.

Those moments don't feel like a blink, but they quickly become part of it, hours that turn into days that turn into years and, ultimately, a life. And there is one thing that's for sure and that should not be allowed to fade into the background, a central truth that can be applied in a thousand ways whether you are an aging media mogul/family patriarch or not.

It really does go by in a blink.


Blogger Ashley said...

Well said.

5:59 PM  
Blogger alisha said...

Welcome back to the've been missed and this post shows why. well done!

8:16 PM  
Blogger Hope said...

As a parent now of three adults, I could not agree with you more. Your children don't necessarily remember the shows, the games, the places - but they do remember if you were there.

And when you are the one who responds to the insane amount of "But why..." and "How come..." questions, you are the one they go to when they have their first crush - first questions about sex - when their friends offer them drugs.

It doesn't solve all the promblems, but it is certainly worth it.

And yes, we have missed you. Welcome back.

1:11 AM  
Blogger Mrs.O said...

Lovely post, so true, so honest, so real.

6:27 AM  
Anonymous Lisa (formerly Penny Pincher) said...

I was reading this on my iPhone in the midst of the chaos of getting ready for school this morning. I stopped, mid-blog to spend the last 10 minutes before the bus wholly present and engaged with my 7 and 9-year-old boys. Thank you for the reminder and for so often perfectly capturing my life in a word picture while describing yours. I will now be deliberately living this week as if it were a staring contest - no blinking!

9:38 AM  
Blogger Maude Lynn said...

Marvelously written!

10:33 AM  
Blogger Tamara said...

This made me cry. Wonderfully written.

3:53 PM  
Blogger jessov said...

Beautifully written post. My daughter is only 9 months old, and I have been amazed how fast the time goes. Thanks for the reminder that it's the little things that count...but we have to look away from the screen long enough to see them.

9:57 PM  

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