Jan. 16 2020 09:15 AM

Watching children grow up is a clear indication of how fast time goes by.

Don't blink, because those babies grow up overnight. My kids Tyler, Cassie, and Jacob all showed Jersey calves starting at a young age.

I recently listened to Kenny Chesney's song "Don't blink" and tears streamed down my cheeks, because let's be honest, we all can relate just how fast time goes by. If you need better proof, then just turn and look at your children (or grandchildren), who all seem to have grown up overnight. Or at least mine have.

I can still recall the first time we got out a March calf for our firstborn to learn how to brush, walk, and show. I remember just how proud his father's heart was when he walked that calf into the showring for the first time at 3 years of age.

And now, I literally look up at that same kid, who is nearly 16 years old and towers more than 6 feet in stature. He made a hard choice last year to trade in the leather show halter for high school football cleats. However, he does more than walk show heifers on the farm — he drives tractor, runs the barn, scrapes stalls, vaccinates heifers, and hauls wagons. His report cards have more A's than anything else, and maturity and respect seem to be growing in big strides.

And, at some point, I must have blinked because all of sudden my daughter stands taller than me. The same girl who sported braids and packed a Care Bear everywhere is now driving skid loaders and tractors and running the clipboard for ovsynch day. Somehow the girl we prayed for far exceeds our hopes and dreams with her constant drive and willingness to lend a helping hand.

Don't blink, because your babies grow up overnight. You long for your kids to gain independence and learn to steer their own life, but from my set of lenses, it all happened while I was sleeping.

I often tell my youngest son his job is to not grow up. Déjà vu, he is a spitting image of his older brother and, quite honestly, his father, too. Our youngest child always wants to do what the older kids are doing and nothing is off limits. He has learned how to drive a skid loader and has become the master at delinking and linking CowManager tags.

Don't blink mom and dad, and grandma and grandpa, too. I encourage you all (and I’m telling myself this, too), to slow it down. Our kids are here today, but in the fast-paced world we live in, they'll be gone tomorrow if you blink. Kids have a way of growing up faster than we like.

Open your eyes to see the goodness they bring. I guarantee if you do, your smile will widen.

Karen Bohnert

Karen Bohnert is a second-generation dairy farmer, born and raised on her family dairy in Oregon and moved east after graduating from Oregon State University. Karen and her husband work in partnership with family, and they along with their three children live and work on the family's 500 Jersey cow dairy in East Moline, Ill. Karen's pride and love for dairy could fill a barn, and she actively promotes dairy anyway she can.