In the movie Click, Adam Sandler plays a stressed-out executive who discovers a magical remote control, giving him the power to mute, pause, rewind, and—most importantly—fast forward through any moment unfolding in his life.
I’ve found myself wishing for my own magical remote lately. In the past month, my household has featured a parade of different illnesses, so I’ve become quite deft in emptying barf buckets, taking temperatures, and making sure our supply of tissues and Motrin is fully stocked. Both of my kids just wanted to lie around until their fevers broke; by the time they were feeling better, the germs had moved on to their next lucky target: me. But the idea of taking a sick day becomes the stuff of legends once you join the ranks of parenthood. The garbage needs to be taken out, the laundry baskets are overflowing, and punchy children still expect to be entertained even though you feel like you’ve been hit by a Mack truck.
Last week, as I walked my youngest daughter back to bed for the fourth or fifth time, my tired-wired brain began thinking of what I would do if I had access to an enchanted remote of my own. I’d fast forward through all of it—the whining, the middle-of-the-night fevers, the constant shuttling back and forth to the doctor’s office—and I wouldn’t hit the play button again until each member of my family could be indisputably classified “healthy as a horse” by no fewer than seven board-certified physicians.
Sandler’s character does just this in the movie: he uses his miraculous remote to completely skip over the unpleasant and tedious parts of his day-to-day existence. But he also discovers there are negative consequences to speeding up time—namely, he misses countless opportunities to be present in his family’s evolving life as his children grow up. He also realizes that you can’t have the good days without the bad ones.
(This was surprising depth for an Adam Sandler movie, I have to admit.)
Whether we’re facing the wrath of a vicious stomach bug or battling a life-changing illness, dealing with an impossibly sulky tween or discovering that yet another mouse has found its way into the basement, there are plenty of times in our lives when we might happily skip a day, a month, or even longer. But there’s no magical remote in parenthood, no game piece that tells us to jump ahead ten spaces.
What we do have is the hope that tomorrow—or maybe the next day or the day after that—will be better. And on the day we wake up and realize life has finally gotten back to normal, that we’re no longer in crisis mode, we might notice the sun is shining a bit brighter than before. We might even find renewed excitement and meaning in our daily routine (well, maybe not when it comes to laundry, but otherwise…).
So if you ever want to hit the fast forward button, just know that you’re not alone. We’ll get there.