Why Do I Stare at My Children Like a Psychopath?

If you have children there’s a chance you’ve heard the phrase:

“They grow up fast.”

I used to be annoyed when older folks would spout out the common cliche. But when I began having children of my own, it became an unavoidable mantra.

The infant that used to pee and poop in a diaper… now finds a spot behind the garage. A helpless toddler stumbling down the stairs… now does back flips on a trampoline. Your “little man” now walks the aisle and begins a new life with his spouse.

“They grow up fast.”

When it became apparent this overused cliche spoke deep truth about life, death, marriage, parenting, and life under the sun… I did something about it.

No… it didn’t involve special ointments or supplements to slow the aging process. We don’t dress our children in diapers and baby clothes to remember the good ole days.

I realized life was moving ahead at warp speed. My kids were growing fast and I was getting slow. I needed to act.

What did I do?

I stared.

Not sure the exact moment it happened. It dawned on me I didn’t stare at my children enough. I knew what they looked like and kissed their heads often. But staring brought on a new joy.

I stare because I don’t want to forget their deep blue eyes (or hazel in some cases). I want to remember the curly blonde hair, or red, or straight/coarse hair, and the freckle placed just right.

Those moments of snuggling on the couch are becoming far in between as the teenage years approach. Mom and dad no longer the first option on a Friday night.

I stare at my kids like a psychopath. But being their father probably gets me off the hook.

Not only do I stare at my children… I’m trying to stare at everything. In an age where I’m glued to a screen for many hours a day… I’ve stopped paying attention. I’ve stopped staring and taking in the beauties and joys and pleasures of life.

I missed the bird nestled in our Oak tree singing as I leave for work. A brief pause, and stare, when I see the moon light up the night sky… as I take out the trash.

I stare at my wife as we age together and remember the days of our youth. I don’t want to forget the misplaced hair, her beautiful smile, and the way her nose jets out in a God-ordained manner.

I stare, listen, and stare some more… because I want to remember the laughter of our children and close friends. I stare and take in the surroundings of play, rest, BBQ’s, ballgames, and funerals. Life is short, and hard, and I want to be present with whatever energy I’m afforded by God.

Thousands of years ago a man wrote in Ecclesiastes:

“Remember also your Creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and the years draw near…” -Ecclesiastes 12:1

The ancient wisdom of The Preacher is right on. In our youth we believe there are unlimited days to do what we like.

But when you grow up, leave the house, get married, and have children… they grow up fast.

Death is coming and it might not be pretty. It’s why I stare at my kid’s and wife and maybe even you… my friend.

I’m not a psychopath… I just want to be present and capture the moments right in our midst. I don’t want to forget my Creator who orders my days.

Have you stared at someone or something today?

It might be good for your soul.

Article originally published on Medium.com.