Time – a moment in

Jill Pertler

My husband and I have always tried to make our family a priority. It is the one aspect of parenting we can agree on. Still, after years of planning kid-friendly vacations, chaperoning field trips to the zoo or museum, warming the bleachers at youth sporting events and attending school holiday concerts, I have the nagging feeling I could have (should have) done more. I wanted to do more. But then I got tired. Or crabby. Or with each rising and setting of the sun they grew a day older and I just ran out of time.

Time. Now there’s a four-letter word that’s working against us. It’s a concept, really.

When they are 2, it seems never-ending. When they are 12, it feels like you’ve still got lots of time. And then suddenly they are 18 or 20 – or whatever it is that makes them adults – and it has ended: the time for reading “Go Dog Go” or the magic of the Tooth Fairy or accompanying them to the restaurant restroom or myriad responsibilities and opportunities parenting of kids when they are kids provides.

Thinking back on it all, there never was enough time. My husband and I did our best, but there is always more you can do. More quality parenting to be had. And while we appreciated memorizing every line of “Toy Story” when we were watching it for the 137th time and embraced our breathlessness as we ran behind the wobbly two-wheeled bicycle the day we took the training wheels off, each moment clicked by and was done almost before it began because that is the nature of time.

That’s the thing. There are no do-overs with parenthood. You only have right here, right now. You do the best you can with what you have that day – that moment – and you hope it is good enough, because you never quite know for sure. So the guilt seeps in sometimes. Okay, oftentimes.

Adding to this are the parent comparison charts. Everyone seems to be able to do so much – and to post it on social media immediately. I’m glad I didn’t have to keep up with Facebook when my kids were young.

This week I’m anticipating high school graduation and sighing a lot. My son came home last week with his cap and gown. (Sigh.) And his final yearbook (Sigh.) He attended his senior banquet. (Sigh.) He is finishing up his last tennis season. (Sigh.) The senior slide show is this week. (Sigh.) Graduation is on Friday. (Deep sigh.)

He is my third. You’d expect it might get easier with practice, but it doesn’t. Or maybe I’m simply a slow learner. Someone asked me if I thought I’d cry on Friday. The answer is yes; I’ll probably cry. I know I’ll cry.

But we call those happy tears. Bittersweet tears that come when the privilege of experiencing a certain moment in time causes your eyes to water uncontrollably.

I will cry. But I will also relish the moment for what it is. I will hug my graduate. I will congratulate others I’ve known since they were in diapers. I will take pictures and post them on Facebook.

And I will bring Kleenex. Lots and lots of Kleenex.

Jill Pertler is an award-winning syndicated columnist, published playwright, author and member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. Don’t miss a slice; follow the Slices of Life page on Facebook.