These Are the Days

It's strange how fatherhood changes you. I certainly expected changes, but there was one change that came unexpectedly: my perception of time. When you are a kid, there are all kinds of life changes and milestones you cross that split your life into loose eras—birthday parties, lost teeth, school semesters—but as an adult, those moments become less defining as the years pass. Having kids, however, was one of those grand milestones in my adulthood. My children became a visual measuring stick for the passage of time.

I became a father in the fall of 2016 with the birth of my first son and then again in 2019 when twin boys entered my life. Those were the days of diaper changes and inexhaustible lists of questions.

So much happened, and yet it feels like one day I had a tiny baby boy in my arms, the next day we were chasing a curious toddler, and now he's a chatty little boy. Life isn't like the movies; you can't slow down, you can't rewind, and you can't freeze time. These are the days we will never get back. Every day, microscopic incremental changes occur that are almost imperceivable until we look back on them from a distance—much like the motion of tectonic plates and their false sense of stillness despite their constant motion. It's frighteningly easy to miss the little changes in life that happen day by day. They build on themselves until suddenly you're a year down the road and you look back to see just how much has happened in that stretch of time.

If you asked me how things are today compared with yesterday, I would say they are the same. But, if I were to compare today with the same time last year, things appear very different. Not only the days but always the kids—from their physical appearance down to how they interact with the world.

In terms of time, childhood is hard to encapsulate, but if you begin to think about how you may only have eighteen summer vacations, eighteen Christmases, or eighteen birthday cakes, it suddenly doesn't seem like much time at all. And then there are all those seemingly inconsequential moments that we take for granted—how they fall asleep in their bed to how they eat spaghetti. All these moments, both big and small, are whipping past.

I like to think I'll remember all the little moments, but I know memory is unreliable. There is so much I want to remember from these days, so it seems foolish to rely solely on my own memory. The beautiful thing is we can create records of our lives in ways generations before us couldn't. The number of tools we have available today to help us capture these moments is incredible. The phone tucked in your pocket is able to take remarkable photos, freezing special moments and marking changes that you'll only be able to appreciate later on.

For me, capturing these photos has become a sort of solace, knowing I can step back into memories. I've found photos can capture a feeling in a way I often can't express in words. Even during those in-between moments of life, I'll grab a camera and take a few snapshots. These photos serve as a jostle to the memory—like when a friend brings up an old story that you would have never recalled if they hadn't mentioned it.

Photos make it easy to see just how much has changed. They are a time capsule of sorts. So, don't slow down—take more pictures. Our lives may sometimes feel like a speeding freight train and there's no going back to what was—but photos do allow us to visit.

These days are passing. Someday I'll be old and gray, and my memory won't be what it was, but I'll be able to look back on the collection of photos I'm capturing now, and I'll be transported back for a little while. In the meantime, I'm lucky enough to recognize that these are the days.