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Don't Let Kids' Childhoods Sprint Away From You

This past spring, I entered a five-kilometer race. I had been running on my treadmill for several months and thought, how hard can a 5-K be? (Note to self: Running on a treadmill is not the same as running a 5-K race.)

So many things are not as they appear. For example, being a parent. It looks easy -- and those little babies are so cute -- but to do it well requires commitment and more patience than some are blessed with.

I frequently run into new parents who are “waiting” for a particular developmental phase for their child to be completed, and the angst they have is evident on their faces.  “When will she sleep through the night?”  “Are those teeth ever going to come out?”  “Will he ever be potty trained?”

I understand their impatience. I was there as well, wondering the same things about my children. But they did sleep through the night and the teeth finally came, and yes, they were finally potty trained. It all happened in the blink of an eye but it didn’t appear so at the time. In fact, I thought it would take forever.

Colleagues of mine were always telling me to “enjoy this time because it goes by so fast.”  Yeah, right, I would think.  Easy for you to say – your kids are in college.  You don’t have a clue what this is like.

Now I have to laugh because every time I see a mom or dad anxiously awaiting the passing of their little one’s particular milestones, I find myself saying the same thing.  “Enjoy this time; it goes by so fast.”  And I’m sure they are rolling their eyes just as I did years ago.

It seems to take an eternity for children to work their way through the various phases of their early lives. We just want it to happen.  Why is this?  Is it so that we can check it off in their baby book?  Or so we can tell our friends and family that little Johnny finally went pee-pee on the potty? Or is it simply because we want to move on to the next big thing?

Here’s the rub: the next big thing is going to come whether you like it or not. But if you spend your time wishing away all the little things, the big things could pass you by as well.

Parenthood is a Marathon, not a five-kilometer race.  It’s a test of endurance, not speed.  Be sure you’re not sprinting through your child’s life and that you enjoy the time.  Because guess what?  It does go by fast.

Jennifer Covello is an award-winning author and owner of Frittabello, LLC, a baby gift business. She lives in Norwalk, Conn. with her two children.

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