Please, Please (Please?) Stop Telling Me “It Goes So Fast”

One of the hardest things about parenting – for me, anyway – has been listening to this constant refrain, everywhere I go:

“Enjoy every minute. It goes so fast.”

Are you a parent? You know exactly what I’m talking about.

I remember the first time someone said these words to me: my son couldn’t have been more than a couple of weeks old, and I was walking down the street, carrying him in a Bjorn-thing and struggling with a bunch of grocery bags with slowly-ripping handles. He was crying and missing a sock, and while I smiled and said “Oh, I am!” at the lady who’d just told me to enjoy myself while my oranges fell out of the bottom of a paper Fairway bag…honestly? She kind of pissed me off. It seemed like the energy it took to remind me that I should be savoring the experience of grocery-shopping with a newborn could have been better-spent helping me retrieve my wayward fruit.

Later on, though, after my son was asleep, her words came back to me – and in an instant I transformed from a tired but basically happy person who was about to enjoy an hour of relative silence in the company of Tim Riggins into a panicky tear-factory, rushing back into my baby’s room to stare at him (and probably wake him up in the process; bye-bye, Tim Riggins) because WHAT IF I DIDN’T APPRECIATE HIM ENOUGH TODAY?!

Read the post I wish I’d read before having my second child here.

This is a message that parents of young children hear virtually every day; common variations on the theme include, “Enjoy them; they grow so quickly,” “Savor every moment; it’ll be over before you know it,” and “This is the best time of your life.” I know it’s a message that comes from a benevolent place. It’s intended to make harried, overwhelmed new parents stop and think and realize how lucky they are.

Except that’s never the effect it actually has.

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