By Tim Urness, Alexandria, MN

My wife Carrie and I remember hearing the phrase so many times after our first child was born: “Enjoy all of the moments as the years really go fast.” As brand-new parents you are so excited and don’t feel that the years will zip by like the veteran parents tell you. Sometimes the days feel long and, combine that with some sleepless nights, quick years just don't seem possible.

And since our son, Christian, was born in 2007, we have been blessed to add two more children to our family, Nora in 2009 and Gracie in 2011. Being a parent is one of the greatest “jobs” and callings a human can have. The two of us have not been perfect parents along the way, but we have learned and grown as parents. Hopefully, we have three children who are confident in themselves and respectful to all.

Now let’s get back to my opening paragraph about how fast life zooms by. I can clearly recall saying with each child:

“I can’t wait until they can crawl…”

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“I can’t wait until they can walk…”

“I can’t wait until they can buckle their own car seat, tie their own shoes, wipe their own nose, make their own lunch...”

“I can’t wait until...”

And then, thankfully, one day I came to my own realization to stop saying that. Why was I always looking to the future, but not enjoying the moment? So many great things were happening that I should’ve loved the moments as they were right in front of my face. For some reason the “here and now” wasn’t good enough – and I thought better things were always down the road. So foolish of me, and I sometimes kick myself wondering how many memories had I not cherished because I kept thinking, “easier and better days are on the way.”

Today our children are 12, 11 and 8 years old and one of my personal goals is to enjoy the moments now. Makes me think, “Holy smokes, everyone was right. The years really do fly by.” Can someone slow down time please?

When my son, Christian, figures out a new song on his saxophone I enjoy that moment. As Nora asks me to read her book with her, I say yes for sure to take advantage of that moment. If Gracie makes eye contact and speaks loud enough to a waiter/waitress to hear, I think “Yes! Good job kiddo.”

I have tried to delete from my vocabulary the phrase, “I can’t wait until.” And this is the point in my column where I turn it back to you dear reader – is this a phrase that you often say? Have you recently stated one of the following:

“I can’t wait until I have more time to exercise…”

“I can’t wait until I am retired, then I will volunteer…”

“I can’t wait until my child gets their driver’s license, until my team wins, until my boss retires…”

“I can’t wait until…”

Now I totally understand that every human being lives a different life and all situations are different. Sometimes life doesn’t allow for people to stay focused on the here and now. Sometimes life throws some bumps in the road where things simply suck at the moment, week, month or year. I get it. I’ve been there too and sometimes still fight my own brain/heart to stay positive and enjoy the present.

But may this column hopefully be a reminder, an encouragement, or a nudge for at least one reader to stop saying, “I can’t wait…” And enjoy the moments with their kids, or start volunteering, or start reading a book at night instead of surfing the web. Maybe there are some great things taking place right now and you don’t realize it or some chances to get involved with some heart filling volunteer opportunities.

I really want to finish by saying, “I can’t wait to hear from some of you with how life changing this column was.” But I can wait – I’ve got some other moments to enjoy right now.

Tim Urness is actively involved in service groups in the Alexandria area. “In the Know” is a rotating column written by community leaders from the Douglas County area.