I am thirty years old today. Lately I have been thinking about how I've spent that time, which inevitably led to a lot of thinking and feelings about my family—the people that occupy most of my time these days and that make sense of how I spend the rest of it.
I've been thinking about how having children has messed with my perception of the passage of time, how sleeping problems and endless illnesses can make you think that this night, this week, this phase will never end. Or on the other hand, how each of their birthdays and a look back at the pictures from the previous year are a stark reminder of how time has flown. A year might be nothing to me, but Nikola will learn how to pee in the potty, eat on his own, sleep through the night, and start talking in the same span. Time is flying, whether I can see it in the mirror or not.
I've been thinking about how becoming a parent makes any kind of longing for going back to relive a part of your past seem absurd. The birth of a child is such a definitive break with the way things were before that it's impossible to conceive of things returning to how they were. I had a great time with just Veronika and Ivan in 2007 and 2008, but how could I wish for that time again? There would be no Nikola, it wouldn't make any sense. Watching the kids arrive and grow has been a constant reminder of the irreversibility of time, always moving us forward as we spin out into more and more strands.
But mostly I've been thinking about what a wonderful reminder that kids are of the richness of life that comes with the passage of time. With each year, they grow, change and amaze me even more. They are turning into these awesome people that I could never know if not for time passing and allowing them to grow up. Our relationships, our memories and our love are all built on the time we've spent together.
We have a slideshow gadget on our Vista desktop (I know, gasp! It's not even horrible!) that I've set up to randomly scroll through all of our pictures. It is a tiny, wonderful thing, springing up random memories every ten seconds or so. On any given morning, I might catch a picture of Veronika learning to ride her bike, of one of our vacations in Rhode Island, or of Nikola as a newborn. With each new picture that appears, I think the same thing—I wouldn't change a moment of any of it. I don't want to be any other age than what I am right now because that would mean that somehow I'd have to give something up from the past. If you're living the life that you want to live, the way you believe it should be lived, and you wouldn't change a thing, then what else is there to be but grateful? So I am grateful, so very grateful. There is no better way that I can think of to pass the time than the way I am right now.
(all photos by Dinka)