Clipping the wings of Time

I absolutely adore sharing my baby with our family and friends. We’re a very tight knit bunch and to see her flourish and interact with people other than her parents is absolutely incredible. She’s an extraordinarily welcoming and relaxed baby around new people and really doesn’t make much of a fuss… unless new people arrive post-nap, which results in a complete irrational meltdown.

I’m always taking note of how other people are with Bumble when they meet her. I’m always observing how they react to her, and how she reacts to them, and what she responds to. I consider this quite important as it gives me the opportunity to learn more about her likes and dislikes; plus, I’m a typical weirdly-obsessive, baby-picture-wielding parent so why wouldn’t I analyse every minute facet of her existence? I also get the opportunity to share similar experiences with new people, leading to a new level of understanding of my peers who are also with child.

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Having been a Dad for just over 10 months now, I’ve picked up on the many common points of conversation people employ, such as:

‘Does she sleep through the night?’

‘Can she crawl/walk yet?’

And

‘Does she eat proper food yet?’

All of the above are relatively easy to answer and do help keep a conversation warm. However, answering the next inevitable question off of this list, always invokes a response that tends to perplex me a little. And not because I don’t think it’s a sincere question or that it’s a negative response in any way. I get perplexed because I don’t agree with the almost ‘clichéd’ reply. People we meet always ask me about how old Bumble is. Whenever I reply with her age, it’s inevitably followed by ‘OMG, already? Time flies with kids doesn’t it!?’

Actually… No… it doesn’t. Not for me at least. Our little Bumble firmly pressed my brake pedal when she came along and time is now an entirely different concept.

Bumble’s first few months of doing nothing, and being seemingly as fragile as a piece of wet rice paper took their sweet time to move onto her being the more robust and increasingly exploratory creature that she is today. Her ever-rising proficiency at picking things up and putting them in her mouth has in all honesty been slow but steady to take shape. Though, now that she can do it quite well, but can’t quite differentiate between food items and jumper fluff, it’s a complete nightmare. I’ve seen her gradually grow, learn and flourish as much as you would expect a baby to progress in 10 months. I’m not saying it’s been sluggish or that it has dragged, I just feel as though time has been passed by… well… appropriately. I’m constantly willing for her to learn more and more, so the weeks and months that sit between her milestones feel like an eternity!

Our minds tend to not retain the memories of things we’ve done everyday for years on end, like the uneventful drive to work or a meaningless drink with the same lads at the same pub on a weekly basis. Monotonous activity isn’t something that imprints itself in our minds as a source of meaningful memories.

For me parenthood is anything but monotonous. I’m able to split my time between working and child rearing, and my work is very non-repetitive, and I take every opportunity to ensure the precious hours I spend with my kid are also just as memorable. I’m endeavouring to live in EVERY moment with the upmost clarity, and when you’re playing in the moment, the game doesn’t simply fly by. Every memory is retained and when you play them back in your head, you realise just how many hundreds of hours of footage there are.

I feel as though time USED to fly by. When I was doing the same old thing day in day out without having such a laser beam focus on what my beautiful child’s potential is. She’s opened up a whole new level of accomplishment, pride, excitement, fear and exhaustion and she’s managed to inject them into all into every facet of my life! And I LOVE savouring all of the above… including the exhaustion!

Auto-pilot has been well and truly, disengaged.

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Now, remember that this is purely my perspective and I can’t imagine my Wife feeling the same way. She is the one who enforces the routine. She ensures that Bumble has a certain level of repetitiveness in her day, which is also essential to her development. This is also a crucial role of a primary care giver, be it mother or father. Suffice to say; when I first pitched this post to my wife, she looked at me as though I was bonkers!

But it links back to the way I used to feel that time fleetingly went by. If repetitiveness leads to less vivid memories being formed, it’s only natural that the bursts of freakin-amazingness she experiences, surrounded by a monotonous routine of changing, washing and feeding will seem as though they fly by. She uses the phrase “the days are long, but the weeks and months/years are short” which absolutely fits that point of view.

This is a VERY rudimentary look at how the psychology might work; given the circumstances, but this is a Daddy blog and not a scientific thesis. I haven’t studied in this field nor can I profess to know much about it. I’m just running on my own instincts and experiences. There are a handful of studies that explore the differences in perception of time, when you’re experiencing certain things, and my point of view is the complete opposite to the old adage that time flies when you’re having fun. Maybe it does, while you’re having that particular bit of fun, but I promise you that rich memories will slow
down that perception when you look back, giving you the opportunity to relish every moment.

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Every day as a Dad comes with its own barrage of new and exciting things, and I can honestly say that I’m eternally grateful that Bumble manages to keep my retrospective viewpoint in a perpetual state of slo-mo. In essence I suppose the message for all parents is that, yes the boring bits do fly-by and as much of your time is filled with these repetitive tasks so you don’t retain those things as memories.  Despite this, it’s always worth taking the time out to watch that rich footage in your mind, and piece together every stage of wonder you have experienced.

You might be surprised to discover just how much you have.

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