I was thinking this morning about how my 14 1/2 month-old is growing and changing at lightening speed. How just a few weeks ago I wondered if she was ever going to choose walking over crawling and somewhere within those short days, she did. From one day to the next she discovered the location of her belly button. Since most of us don't have a memory of the day we make that discovery - holy cow, it's pretty epic. One thing I have discovered from having a child is the emphasis we place upon the growth and changes of each month. The world of social media has even encouraged a custom of publicly sharing the newfound discoveries that babies accomplish as they make their way from one month to the next - especially within the first year. We silly parents put round stickers on our little ones to mark how many months they are, plop them in a chair or lay them on a blanket and do the most ridiculous things you can imagine in an exhausting attempt to get them to smile. Then we post our best efforts online for the world to see. (The smile part gets easier the older they get, thank goodness, because I still haven't gotten back into cardio exercise yet.)
Oftentimes we list alongside their picture the latest "tricks"our little one is doing this month - what s/he likes and dislikes when it comes to food, we calculate how many inches s/he has grown in the last month in order to communicate just how much can and does change in the span of 30 days.
You know, I guess I should back up and also remind myself that this kind of calculating of time and growth for lots of first-time parents (usually the mamas) begins before the baby is born! I had an app on my phone when I was pregnant that told me which fruit Abbey was every week as she grew inside me. I will admit that I had never really thought about the size and weight of a rhutabaga until I was in the 2nd trimester of pregnancy. You really do learn something new every day in this life….
Anyway…my point in all of this is to say - when and why do we stop exploring and being amazed with how much we have learned and how much we have grown over time? Before a baby is born, we are fascinated with weekly changes. When they enter the world we move the focus to monthly changes. Then after about 2 years old we stop calculating their age by month and focus on how old they are in years. At that point we chart their growth on a yearly basis - pencil marks on on their closet door marking their height and grades in school determining their academic and social advances.
And then…we stop. We stop paying attention to the small, tiny details in the small, tiny increments of growth. We stop being so fascinated at how much has changed in our lives from one week or one month to the next. It's a little bit frightening to think….do we assume that we just stop growing? I mean, physically yes, I haven't gotten an inch taller since the 7th grade, sadly. But what about internal growth? Is there an age limit? Or a month limit?
Why do we let our days, months, and years blend together at a certain point in our lives? I wonder what would happen if we took the time each month to think about how we have grown and changed and become a happier(?), fuller person. What if we took the time to intentionally mark our lives not so much in calculated years but in how much we have grown in the days, weeks, and months that made up those years? Perhaps we would feel younger and lighter. Perhaps we would realize that we are wise in a way that we never considered. Or maybe we would discover more areas in need of growth or celebrate a small success that might otherwise be overlooked.
It's a cause for thought, at least. Can we still be amazed at what we have learned about life and about ourselves even after a certain age?
If we realize that we never do truly stop growing….I wonder how we would change.