One of the things I miss the most about childhood was how each year was so separate, distinct, and memorable. Each new school year brought new classrooms, new teachers, new classmates, and sometimes an entirely different school. The lazy days of summer divided those school years like chapters in a book.
That pattern continued into college, with roommates and yearly changes of dorms or apartments adding to the annual diversity and making those years even more memorable than the ones that came before. Ask me about any year in the 70’s or 80’s and I can give some details that made that year different from any other.
Eventually, most of us are pushed out of the academic nest and have to find full-time employment. For many, that means a commute and the corporate grind - working 49 or 50 weeks a year in a cubicle. The weeks and months blend together in an indistinct blur. Those months become years, and soon one year is no more memorable than another. You may get a promotion or move around within the company, but those minor changes aren’t as indelibly time-stamped as the years in childhood.
Pink Floyd sings a lament of being “lost in a haze of alcohol-soft middle age.” For me, that haze came on a bit early. There are precious few events in the 90’s or early 2000’s that separate one year from another. Sure, there were many, many good times, but throw a year at me and I can’t tell you anything special about it. I went to work, went to football games, partied with friends, and traveled a bit, but even the photos aren’t dated (remember film?) so the timeline is more of a collage of memories and images.
What the heck does any of this have to do with my wife’s parenting-focused blog? The journey to becoming a parent, and parenthood itself, has restored the memory mile markers to my life. I will forever remember learning that Elizabeth was pregnant, and those long months waiting for our String Bean to make her debut. Once she was born, every month seemed to bring a milestone, and of course there were the big ones like her first crawl and the first time she crossed a room on foot.
Going forward, the years will be marked by pre-school, kindergarten, grade school, middle school, high school and college. While I may still be a cubicle dweller through the upcoming years, I’m sure I’ll be able to remember SB’s first day of school, her first “A” report card, her competitive sport debut, dances, first dates, and graduations. I doubt I’ll forget the year when I first take her to swim with manatees, scuba dive, hike in a western state, or teach her how to drive.
I know that eventually (probably around the time she starts driving), SB is going to assert her independence and dear old dad won’t hear as much about her school and friends. And one day even my little girl will find herself out in the real world, discovering her own way to make her years memorable. But that’s OK, because by then I’ll be retired, and grateful for a lifetime of memories.