The passage of time

August 2014

I realised this morning that before I had kids, I’d never really been conscious of the passage of time.

Each day would feel like the last one.

Sure, my body would change, but the changes were so slow and imperceptible that they were difficult to detect. Even changes to other adults and places around me are so slow that they weren’t remarkable enough to jolt me to an understanding of time.

With rare exceptions, such as the death of my father, I didn’t miss the day before, or feel like I’d lost anything that I couldn’t get back the next day.

Having children changed that for me.

Now, watching my daughters grow, I feel the passage of time and it is relentless. One minute my first daughter was born, then she was walking. The next minute my second daughter was born, then she was learning to hold her head up. The first daughter is tucking her in, pretending to feed her and being a good-big-sister.

My wife and I realised last night that our second child is the last baby we are likely to ever look after.

Expressed that way, this realisation hit me like a brick.

The period of our lives where we have kids and raise tiny tiny infants is coming to an end even before it felt like it even started. I can’t get that back. Not ever.

I feel the passage of time. And it is relentless.

I’m glad that I feel it.

It’s an amazing thing to understand and it serves as a stark reminder of my own mortality. If it hadn’t happened, I imagine one day in the future I’d wake up feeling just the same as all the other days, and then die.

Kids are an amazing experience, in that, as a parent you are so immersed in their development that you see the changes. I notice the things they can do one day, but couldn’t do the last. I see their little bodies growing. I hear the words and sentences they put together. I remember how cute they were ‘back’ when they were babies.

Children make you realise that, if they are growing so fast, you must also be ageing at a similar rate. The time you have to look after them and help them is only finite, not infinite. There is only a limited amount of time you have to impart to them all the things they will need to lead their own lives before it’s highly likely that you will no longer be around.

Children make me appreciate that each day we live is irreplaceable. Days cannot be reclaimed from time, so must be lived to the full and then discarded without regret.

We must fight the passage of time through immersion in the moment.

Plan your life around this fact.

Find a workplace that lets to spend time as much time as possible with those you love doing something that you love, or could come to love.

Treat each day like the finite resource it is.

Enjoy it.