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The Family Room by Michelle Martin

March 15, 2009

Springing forward?

The great spring forward came earlier than in the past this year, forcing us to roll out of bed an hour earlier the first weekend of March, before the calendar officially turned to spring.

I remember the annual time change coming later in the year, when temperatures were usually warmer and Easter was in the air.

But it couldn’t come early enough for our kids, who live for the days when the sun stays up after dinner so we can get outside and play a little longer.

Not so long ago, when they were small, wanting to go out and play meant they wanted to go to the park, where we would push them on the swings and watch them carefully navigate the slides. Or maybe they would want to bring out a bottle of bubble solution so they could chase the iridescent orbs across the yard, or break out the sidewalk chalk.

They still want to go to the park, but now they want to play baseball (in which mom and dad turn into human pitching machines) or soccer or football.

If they do run for the swings, they don’t usually need us to push anymore, although sometimes Frank would still like one. Caroline, at 11, would prefer we not stand anywhere in her vicinity.

It doesn’t seem so long ago that they needed training wheels and tricycles to keep them upright; now we watch them turn the corner and ride out of our sight. How much longer will it be before they are turning the corner in the car?

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not wishing my kids were babies again, for all the sweetness of that time in our lives. There’s a lot to be said for the joy that comes when children can get in the car and buckle their own seatbelts, instead of having to wrangle them into carseats with ever-more-complicated straps. Bathing and dressing are now tasks they can handle more or less on their own, with maybe a little parental advice thrown in (like, say, you probably don’t want to wear shorts outside when it’s snowing).

The needs are different now. Caroline needs to talk more, about friends and feelings and thoughts and ideas and what is going on in the world. Frank needs adults to play and listen and not tell him he’s being silly — at least not all the time.

But as the clock took a leap forward last weekend, it seems as though life is taking giant leaps forward as well. The seasons follow one another with gathering speed: winter, spring, baseball, volleyball, basketball.

“There is a time for everything, and a season for every activity under heaven,” Ecclesiastes (3:1-3) tells us.

Sometimes, I’d like for those seasons to slow down a little.

Martin is assistant editor of the Catholic New World. Contact her at [email protected].