The Milestones We Don’t Expect

July 27, 2018 at 2:00 pm Leave a comment

Parents talk about and celebrate many common milestones: first tooth, first word, first day of school. What we don’t talk about are the many milestones we experience that suddenly come upon us. There is the moment when you are hanging up their clothes and discover the shirts are now too large for the child clothing hangers. The first time they voluntarily take a bath. The first time they get their own glass of juice.

There are no greeting cards for these milestones; no parties to celebrate the moment your child starts choosing to stand with her classmates rather than with you before the school doors open.

Here’s one that hit me the other day: when your child runs faster than you.

Off to the Races

I was out after a college softball game playing in the practice football field with my little daughter, when she decided to race me to some random spot she selected. “Ready, GO!“, she shouts and suddenly we’re off. After about 10 yards I realize this is not going to be easy. In days past I could chase her down like a cheetah, but this time I suddenly had a lot to think about.

I need to win this race because I am not ready for her to be better than me at anything. If I try to run faster, I get closer to that point where I could fall on my face. I will blame my shoes or the fact that I am carrying all of her things. Does she know how to operate the emergency call button on my phone? Is my arm tingling?

Suddenly witnessing just how strong and capable your children have become is one of those milestones that can make you feel like parenting is just one long string of losses, indicators of what is no more. If she can run faster than me, what else is she better at than me now? Will she think less of Dad? Is this the beginning of the “Dad is Lame” stage? What if she just runs out the door and never comes back and I can’t catch her because, wow, she’s fast?

All of this flashes through my mind in just a few seconds as I my 54-year-old meat bag hurtles down the sideline. Yet after 30 yards I am no longer motivated to win the race because I realize I am having a lot of fun. I just want to keep up with powerful little girl and revel in this simple thing. She doesn’t understand all of the crap going on in my head. She just wants to run with Dad. So now, I’m thinking Look at this girl RUN! Forget the potential cardiac event, this is amazing.

A Shift in Thinking

What more can she do? What more can we now do together? Those are the questions that ease the sting of moving into a new stage in life with your kids. Sure, you can take some time to miss the way they used to be. When you are done looking back, turn and look ahead; breathe in this new stage of life with them.

Breathe in, that is, if you have any breath left after you lose that race.

p.s. I won the race, by the way, though probably for the last time.

Entry filed under: Being Dad. Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , .

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