It seems to me that the passage of time as a parent is both slower and so, so much faster than non-parent life. We can get so consumed with the day-to-day minutia of caring for our little people, that sometimes we can watch them grow every day before our eyes without noticing. It breaks our heart when finally we look up and realize we may have missed something. How is my baby now crawling, standing, walking? When did he learn to recognize my voice? How is it that he is suddenly an independent person who has his own ideas? Did I spend enough time memorizing the weight of him in my arms before he was strong enough to even lift his head? Do I remember to kiss him every chance I get, and hold those impossibly small hands in mine while they're still damp and sticky and childlike? Do I take enough pictures so I can hold onto these precious days even after they're long gone, years from now when I'm watching my not-so-little man drive out of the yard in his pickup headed for appointments of his own and a life that doesn't include me as its center any more?
In truth, we go through this with the kittens as well, and it's remarkable how quickly they change. One day they're tiny wriggling white sightless balls of fur, the next their eyes are open and off they go, crawling out to explore their little world. In just a matter of weeks they're ready to play, they notice us moving outside their enclosure and know they're missing out on the fun. At some point they make the big decision to try to join us by climbing over or pushing through the fence. How bold they are, those small creatures with their wet noses and twitching whiskers. How little fear they have and what a great amount of trust, to be so little yet ready to leave their mamas. But oh, how sad to be a cat, and be so okay with your babies growing up and leaving you for their own new lives. They just sit back and enjoy the lull before the next batch of squirming squeaking white balls of fur come along. They don't sit up worrying about them. They just mother them and forget. Aren't we glad that we could never do that? We get to hold onto our memories of our little ones long after they're big enough to hold us in their arms. Even then, they're still our babies.