By BETSY HART
I’m living a movie.
I recently saw "Click," starring Adam Sandler. While there was gratuitous vulgarity everywhere (OK, it’s an Adam Sandler film) the theme was so poignant: A fellow is essentially fast-forwarding through his life, missing all sorts of things, thanks to an out-of-control remote control. Faster and faster he goes … .
In my case, I’ve decided I’ve got some sort of bizarre time-folding or something involving the future and the past going on. Here it is: In a few weeks my youngest of four, my baby, is going to kindergarten, and so the preschooler-mom years are over for me; a dear niece of mine is off to be a freshman at my alma mater, the University of Illinois, where I spent some of the best and most remembered years of my life; and my 25th high school reunion is fast approaching. High school being where I made some of my best and lifelong friends, I ended up being on the organizing committee for the bash.
Not to sound too all about me, but … this IS all about me! I’m sure I’m missing 10 years of life somewhere. I think they should have occurred roughly between my mid-20s and mid-30s.
Have you ever considered that as we get older time does go faster and faster? When you are 5, a year is fully one-fifth of your life. When you are 50 _ it’s only one-50th of your life. _Talk about time being relative.
In any event, it doesn’t give the ending of "Click" away to explain that Sandler finally realizes he never lived his life in the moment. It was always "in the future," so he inevitably found himself grasping at the past.
Here I am, sending my littlest one off to school _ and a major phase of my life, 12 years of having preschoolers at home is now done. I feel like it lasted all of 12 days. At the same time, I watch as my niece gets ready for college, my college _ I still have dreams about being back on campus and being really happy; and I’m looking up all sorts of old names from high school for the reunion list. Talk about a blast from the past.
So I find myself wrapping back around and revisiting old times in my life, at the same time I’m "suddenly" thrust into an entirely new phase.
That’s why I feel as if I must have hit the "click" button and just fast-forwarded, too fast. I’m looking for those lost 10 years that I’m sure should be there somewhere.
Here’s the save: I wouldn’t be 18 or 22 or 25 again for anything in the world; (35-38 I could probably be talked into, but that’s another story). I am an entirely different and more confident and more content person than I was then. (I would appreciate not having to deal with acne and wrinkles at the same time, but that’s another story too.)
What I would like to do is learn better how to live in the moment.
In "Click," there’s a scene in which Sandler is busy working on his computer, and his kids are desperately trying to get his attention: He’s doing the "uh-huh, uh-huh" routine, not paying attention at all. He later regrets that so much.
Let’s just say, that hit home. "Uh-huh, uh-huh" is a good way to lose a lot of time. And that has huge repercussions because, well, of course it’s not "all about me."
So, when I march my little one, my last one, off to kindergarten _ as I cry, but before I celebrate the fact that I will now have 2.5 hours each and every weekday when all four kids are in someone else’s care. I’m going to fast-forward, but just for a moment, to 13 years from now when, I hope, I’m taking that same "baby" to college. And in light of that future, I’m going to make a little promise to myself to start trying, really trying, to do a better job, today, of not living in the past or the future _ but in the right now.
(Betsy Hart is the author of "It Takes a Parent: How the Culture of Pushover Parenting is Hurting Our Kids _ and What to Do About It." She can be reached at www.betsyhart.net or betsysblog.com.)