The Unbearable and Magical Passage of Time (and Star Wars)

It seems like a mere week ago that it was just Andrea, our bulldog and myself sitting in a little house.  I would spend time on the computer researching new daddy things like the best car seats and cribs and what diapers are best.  It seems like just a few short days ago that I was on a computer trying to learn about little, little boy stuff like what color a stegosaurus plate was.  Today, I found myself trying to find answers for my two sons on what color Count Dooku’s light saber was and whether or not he was in the first three movies or just the second or just the third.  And I find myself wondering where the time is going.  How could Tyrannosaurus Rex be replaced by Darth Tyrannous?  How have diapers and bottles been replaced with baseball helmets and water bottles?  How is it that my youngest son is turning five in a week?

About a month ago, I transferred most of the photos I had scattered on two laptops and another online storage location into Picasa.  As I did it over the course of several nights, I found myself becoming more and more sad.  In the process of documenting my two sons entire lives from baby-bump to little men, they reminded me of small moments that I had actually forgotten.  It’s sometimes easy for the brain to want to remember sleepless nights and the endless hours with a colic baby that you can forget all those countless, sweet moments in between.  It’s easy to be with the boys day in and day out and not always be as cognizant of just how much they are growing.  To go from one moment, in the present, of having a conversation behind the physics of the Death Stars main weapon, to the next moment of staring at a six year old picture of the same child lying on his back as a baby, eating his foot (at times, I feel like eating my own foot out of frustration when trying to explain Jar-Jar Binks to them) is almost unbearable.  To see their little lives flash forward like that makes my heart feel like a small thermal exhaust port with two proton torpedoes headed towards it.  (Yeah, I am pretty proud of all my Star Wars references…at this point, this is what the kids have turned my brain into…Thank God for Wookieepedia.)

The whole situation is exacerbated by the fact that there are a lot of pictures mixed in from Andrea and I’s pre-children days of trips to Florida and hanging out in New York and Hoboken.  It’s not that I long for that life again, it is just that feeling of how long ago those days were.  It’s a simple calculation of math that my mind starts to do…I did x and y and z before the kids came along, add that to the a and b and c of the time with the kids and it means that I am getting old , but I’m going to spare you my brewing mid-life crisis rant for now.

Even without the pictures, when I see them playing certain games or having certain conversations, I am reminded of my own childhood.  It brings back memories that I had forgotten about being a kid.  And then they ask questions about where I’ve lived, what states I’ve been to, things that I’ve done and it just brings up so much of the past to the surface.  It is really just amazing.

I know some of this sounds depressing and sad, but when I do find myself thinking about stuff like this, I am usually able to correct it by thinking about what the future holds for them and for us as a family.  I think about what they might do in high school and the friends they might have.  I wonder about who they will one day fall in love with and what are the things that will make them happy.  I think about them reading this blog for the first time and of grandchildren.  And I realize that while so much of their lives and my life has passed, there is so much more ahead for the four of us.

The point is that, more than ever in my life, I can actually see time zipping before me like never before.  For hundreds of years, people have been exploring the possibility of time machines.  The simple truth, for me in my relatively few short years as a father, is that kids are time machines.  The way that time just flies when you are with them and the way they can remind you of your own childhood and how you can see your entire life, past, present and future, in their tiny faces, makes them time machines.  They are little hyperdrives in more than one sense of the word (yeah, yeah, yeah, I know that a light year is a measure of distance, not time, but I couldn’t end this without one last Star Wars reference.)

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