The Best Worst Thing About Being a Parent

I’ve been a father for all of an eighteen months and some change, so I’m by no means an expert despite the rather definitive nature of the title. With that said, over the course of those eighteen months there has been a particular kind of event that’s always bittersweet: watching Sonja improve in her abilities.

As right now, in all languages, voices and accents there are three words I love more than all others. They are all spoken only by Sonja:

  • AH-puss = octopus
  • EL-pant = elephant
  • PUH-kees = pumpkins

These words have a very limited shelf life. I was reminded of this fact this morning while giving her a bath. She was pointing out various bath toys and then started spouting off words she knew, something that happens pretty regularly. There were the ducks and the turtle and then she said it, ”OC-ah-puss.” Not perfect yet, but an improvement—an improvement that will only lend itself to perfection over time.

On one hand it’s always exhilerating to see a child take a proverbial step forward. On the other though, I couldn’t help but sink a little knowing that the ”AH-puss” phase would probably be over sooner rather than later. It’s a very strange feeling to be so up and down all at the same time.

This has been a common theme over these past months. I feel it whenever I “retire” a particular outfit when she outgrows it or she no longer needs a stepping-stone habit like her weird one-armed crawl/drags that came before she could walk. It’s exciting to see the new stuff but sad to see the old things go.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that it happens very, very fast. “They grow up so fast,” is really the ultimate parenting cliché but at the same time it’s so true. There are little things like words or laughs or movements that you’ll find really endearing and then they’re gone. It’s not always spans of weeks or months either. Sometimes, it’s like… a week.

Pay attention here and now. I wish I had gained a proper appreciation for how precious time was before I became a parent although I’m not sure if that’s even possible.