The hardest part about being a parent is realizing that the six year old boy who runs up the stairs to give you a hug the moment he gets home from school is going to disappear soon and never return.
He’s going to keep growing up. Before long, giving Dad a hug isn’t going to be that big of a deal. He’ll have new interests. Eventually, he’ll go through his teen years and the birth pangs of independence that those bring. Not long after that, he’ll be an adult with his own life to traverse.
That little boy who thinks I’m the greatest thing in the world won’t be here forever.
The same thing is true of my daughter and my youngest son, but the winds of change blow stronger with the oldest one. His childhood isn’t going to last forever. In less than a decade, he’ll be driving a car. In fifteen years, he’ll be living on his own.
I don’t really lament this. I look forward to seeing the adults that my children will eventually grow up to be.
However, I do recognize that my time with them as children is short. Right now is the only time in my life where I’ll have the joy of being a parent to young children, with all the joy that brings.
This is something that’s particularly special about this point in my life. When I was younger, I didn’t have children. I didn’t have the day-in and day-out joy of interacting with and raising three young kids. When I’m older, I won’t have young children at home any more.
There’s something particularly enjoyable about every stage in life, from childhood to single adulthood to retirement. Each has particular things about it that you’ll only have at this point in your life.
I remember fondly the things I did when I was a child. I loved playing in sandboxes. I loved going to parks. I loved giving and receiving hugs from my loved ones.
I remember fondly being a college student and a single adult. I could stay up all night talking to friends. I could go on incredibly long walks, all day long if I wanted to.
Other stages in my life will hold special things, too. I’ll spend time with my grandchildren (if I have any). I’ll travel without any professional worries, doing things like tossing a tent in the vehicle and departing for a month. I’ll donate large chunks of time to charities.
Each stage holds special opportunities that really won’t appear at any other stage in my life. Almost all of these opportunities are ones that cost very little in terms of money.
You don’t have to own anything to enjoy having a healthy young body that can participate in sports.
You don’t have to have a bevy of possessions to enjoy playing tag in the yard with your children.
You don’t have to own very much to wander about the country with your wife when you’re both retired.
Enjoy the varying opportunities life gives you at each stage along the way. Possessions don’t make for a life well lived.
I think I’ll take a break from writing and go play soccer with my kids before they get too old to want to play soccer with their dad.