We haven't put our pool up yet this year.
You know the kind. The seasonal pools that you put up and take down each summer season.
Ours is 16x16 and might seem small for 4 kids and their neighborhood buddies, but they spend whole days splashing and playing in it.
Since we got it several years ago, it's been up each June before the end of the school.
But not this year.
Because it was that thing we just couldn't seem to get to in the midst of all the rest being juggled.
I had always heard that the days go faster as the kids get older.
But I didn't fully know all that it meant.
When the babies were babies, I knew the days were long because we were so fully pulled in all the caretaking ways every minute of every day (and night).
I didn't realize they also moved slower because in many ways those days still belonged to us.
Our babies and littles didn't come with the growing and busy schedules of big kids and teenagers. We had evenings and slow weekends simply being home. A trip to the grocery store or library felt big. And when we had to head out, pack up our giant bag with all the things and sometimes curse feeling like we were a human version of a traveling 3 ring circus - it was our circus and even through the crazy and the hard and the tired, we cherished it.
But as the kids have grown, so have their own schedules. School, sports, music, activities for any interest area, social calendars far exceeding Sunday dinner at Grandma's, work shifts for teens, and on and on.
Time becomes fleeting not only because 'gosh, they're growing up so darn fast,' but because time together at home can become fleeting.
The fleeting nature of childhood combined with the fleeting moments of slow togetherness all seems to add up to what we'd been warned of - "the days go faster as the kids get older."
We were already feeling exactly that when our older neighbor pulled my husband aside.
"I see you haven't put up that pool yet.
I will help you.
Come get me.
These days, there are only so many of these days."
To be honest, before his words we were thinking of just not putting the pool up this summer. Maybe it was one more job we didn't need to take on since we were already behind with it.
But his gentle reminder of the precious magic and memories made in "these days," - these days that are sometimes exhausting and stretching, these days that have become busy and not long enough, these days that we still and always treasure togetherness - it was exactly the whisper our hearts needed to hear.
In the grass where his own kids used to run, his grandchildren now play. He has the perspective to see the transition and the swiftness of the seasons that are happening in my backyard even as it's all unfolding.
So with the kind offer of help and the nudge of the wise words from my neighbor, we're putting up the pool this summer.
"These days, there are only so many of these days."
(words and image You Are Loved - Emily Roussell)