Parenting over time: One day ends another begins

izzy graduation

Dear Izzy, Max, and Kate,

Life has been busy. I used to hear that as you kids grew up our life at home would grow busier and busier. I started to feel that reality a while back, and so I decided to conclude my letters to you with my New Year’s Day letter almost 6 months ago.

Since then I’ve often missed writing to you, but I’ve found ways to distract myself. Reasons to justify stopping. Excuses about whether it was really for you anymore or for someone else. Excuses: We spend a lot of time running to and from swim practice, gymnastics and taekwondo.

Kate, you gymnastics coaches love you - even if they say you're "a little different than Izzy." That's not a bad thing of course. You're definately your own person - just like your big sister.

Kate, your gymnastics coaches love you – even if they say you’re “a little different than Izzy.” That’s not a bad thing of course. You’re definately your own person – just like your big sister.

Max, you earned your yellow stripe at Taekwondo. Signing you up for Taekwondo has been the best thing we've ever done for you. You love it.

Max, you earned your yellow stripe at Taekwondo. Signing you up for Taekwondo has been the best thing we’ve ever done for you. You love it and it allows you to be your own person.

Then there was soccer season and the school play. I’ve also been more focused on work than I’ve ever been. I love my job, so that’s not a bad thing. But in the margins of my life, where I find my own peace of mind, I let a few things go. Things like writing to you kids about our life and focusing on my own athletic endeavors.

I walk you kids to school every morning before going to work. It’s one of the many small joys in my life. A few days ago though as I hugged and kissed you goodbye, Izzy, I realized that I only had a few days left of walking you to school. You start middle school in the fall, across town, so our short walks to school together and the depth of conversation we squeeze into those 5 minutes will be lost. We walked together every morning for years.

I know that we’ll find other times to talk; on the way to swim practice and meets, maybe I’ll drive you to school next year. But the simple pleasure of our short walk together to the Elementary school down the street will be over.

I was sad about it at first.

But you’ve always been such a blessing, Izzy. Having you for a daughter has always led me to new conclusions about life and fatherhood and God’s provisions. I know we’ll replace those minutes together with something new. So I’m not sad about it anymore; I’m excited to see what’s next.

You graduated from 5th grade last night. You were given the Presidential Award for educational excellence. As always, you make us proud.

receiving the Presidential Award from your principal

receiving the Presidential Award from your principal

Back tracking a little: Shortly after the New Year you qualified for the Southeastern Championships in swimming. When you started last swim season, we just wanted you to learn how to be a year-round swimmer. We never dreamed you would qualify for something that 1000’s of swimmers hope for every year. After a short break from swimming in December you came back energized and in late February at the Distract Championships you won the 100 butterfly, qualifying for Southeasterns in Knoxville. You also qualified in 50 fly and 50 backstroke.

Your "lucky socks" at the District Championships

Your “lucky socks” at the District Championships

After you won the Championship in the 100 butterfly and qualified for Southeasterns you chose Rotiers for a celebration lunch

After you won the Championship in the 100 butterfly and qualified for Southeasterns you chose Rotiers for a celebration lunch

We were so proud of your accomplishment; I even cried a little when you won the 100 butterfly and earned your first qualifying time. We went to Knoxville for the long weekend and stayed with Aunt Carolyn and Uncle Roy in their cabin.

You swam well in Knoxville, always turning to check your results on the giant scoreboard above after each event.

You swam well in Knoxville, always turning to check your results on the giant scoreboard above after each event.

you chose the tie-dyed souvenir hoodie. What an experience this was for you!

you chose the tie-dyed souvenir hoodie. What an experience this was for you!

You kids love Aunt Carolyn's cabin in Knoxville.

You kids love Aunt Carolyn’s cabin in Knoxville.

After Southeasterns in Knoxville I promised you another break from the pool until summer swim season. Instead of laying around the house, you chose to play soccer for the first time. I served as assistant coach, so we got to spend more time together.

izzy soccer

You had a blast, but as the season reached mid-point you began to miss the pool. I knew you would.

In March we went to the beach for spring break. You turned 11 while we were there, Izzy.

Kate, you dance the beat of your own drummer, and claimed my Phish hat as your own at the beach. No surprise.

Kate, you dance the beat of your own drummer, and claimed my Phish hat as your own at the beach. No surprise.

Max, you and I went with Grandfather to see the Blue Angels and the Navy museum. You had a blast.

Max, you and I went with Grandfather to see the Blue Angels and the Navy museum. You had a blast.

Izzy, you constantly amaze us with your grace and gentle nature – and your dedication to academics and your natural gift for swimming.

While we won’t be walking to school together next year, I know we’ll have something new. It was yesterday when I used to lay in the floor next to your crib and hold your hand as you fell asleep – then belly crawling out of your room so not to wake you. It was yesterday we sang Wiggles songs together and then “Better Together” by Jack Johnson in the car while driving to visit Mommy in the hospital. It was yesterday I watched you graduate from 5th grade.

I wonder what “yesterday” will be tomorrow and next year, because it’s always been beautiful when I look back.

I love you,

– Daddy

TRAINING: my first race this year isn’t until June 20, so I’ve been taking it slow

Sat: ran 6 miles

Sun: Biked 30 miles

Mon: rest

Tues: ear infection, no workout

Wed: ear infection, no workout