8765 Times 5 – Milestones Achieved

Risa, the girls and me after we moved into our home

Risa, the girls and me after we moved into our home

There are 8765 hours in a year.  In the five years since Risa passed away 43,825 hours have ticked away.  Sometimes time just flies by as we go about our lives.  Other times, the hours drag as moments play out.  In the 8765 hours over this year some milestones have been achieved and moments have been shared.

Maybe the most significant was 13.0 achieving her bat mitzvah.  While I don’t think the struggle was any tougher than any family goes through convincing a 12-year-old that studying Torah and practicing prayers and readings is important – this had deeper meaning for us.  One of the few promises I made to Risa over the years she battled her brain tumor was that the girls would make it to their bat mitzvah.

Not only did 13.0 perform flawlessly – but she emerged as the young lady she is becoming.

With that goal accomplished this year it’s a chance to look back and reflect – but also to look ahead.

When I have a “look ahead” conversation with friends, somehow they all talk about paying for a wedding – I’m a little more of a realist and thinking about cars and college.

Sometimes as an only parent it’s tough to step back and evaluate how things are going.  I can look around and see signs of positive results – good grades in school, the ability for the three of us to communicate with one another, 13.0’s bat mitzvah, 15.5 setting out to become a lifeguard over the summer and accomplishing it and other tangible moments.

But sometimes out of nowhere comes confirmation that I’m sure Risa would be proud of too:

15.5 is in all honors classes and an AP class this year.  Her English teacher sent me an email last week about a moment from class that reassure’s me that there is a solid foundation to build on.

It seems the teacher’s mother is going through a health crisis and the teacher has been in and out of school.  She ended up canceling a test right before Thanksgiving, and told 15.5’s class it was due to the illness of her mother.  According to the teacher, 15.5 stayed after class that day and shared that she knew what it was like to have a sick mother and she would be there to support her teacher if she needed it.

How could a parent not be proud of the young lady they are raising?

One of the lessons I learned in childhood (raised by an only parent) is that there is no instruction manual for life.  You look at the moment, try to assess it and handle it as best you can.  You won’t always be right but if you decide with caring and compassion you won’t be wrong very often.

More than 350,000 hours have ticked off since my father passed away.  I think about him and Risa and wonder if I’m doing OK and what would they think about the way life for the girls and me has turned out.  I think it’s OK.

And so we’ll start to tick off another 8765 hours with more milestones to achieve.  We’ll build on our success and learn from our mis-steps and be able to look one another in the eye and know what is important and who we can count on – and all in, that’s not so bad.

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The Washington Buses Roll – Again

Washington TripIn the school district where we live, it’s that time of year.  No, not Halloween stuff.  The Washington buses roll again.  This year 13.0 will be on board the buses this year, as her sister was two years ago.

As was the case two years ago, there’s a fine line to walk between parenting and letting my girl enjoy her three days away with the school.

From a safety perspective – the school has done just about all they can to assure parents (and kids) that the trip will be fun, educational and everyone will come home.  But I think every parent has that little trepidation, right down to the rain in the forecast tomorrow as the buses pull out of the school parking lot just after 530 in the morning.

This rite of passage starts tonight with luggage drop off.  Once that’s done, we’ll get up bright and early tomorrow morning and head to the school.  13.0 will have breakfast, lunch and snacks at the ready – and I’ll watched the Washington buses roll again.  In the end, it’s a great experience for all of us (even 15.5).

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Feeling Old About My Halloween First

Kids are Growing UpI suppose the day was inevitable – but still I’m not sure I was quite ready for it.  For the first time I did not do the trick or treating walk with either of my kids.  A moment I’ve shared with one or both of them for 14 years has come to an end.  I’ll admit it, I’m feeling old about my Halloween first this year.

Although I’m feeling old, I’m actually OK with it.  The reality is, these moments I’ve shared over the years will come to an end, and there are new moments that will (and have) replaced them.  We can’t live in the past, and we have to keep evolving and changing – and I’m OK with that.

But still.  I can remember racing home to meet the bus and getting the girls and starting the trek.  In our neighborhood – there are 110 homes close together.  You can do the lap around our community in about 40 minutes (closer to 90 with five-year olds).

This year 14.5 was off with friends.  I’ll admit a Friday night Halloween was reason to worry.  A lot of drinking, and a lot of drinking and driving.  But I know she knows right from wrong and I was able to talk to her about my concerns and she understood.

12.0 went off with a friend after school, and was then in our gated community after dinner.  Many fewer worries about her being local in the dark – and she and her friend are responsible and understand the importance of looking out.

So, my Halloween was answering the door and handing out candy, and not the usual walk about the my neighborhood and the ones nearby.

Out with the old, and in with the new – but looking at the micro of this situation, I still can’t help but feel old about this Halloween first.

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The Realization

As the long Memorial Day weekend wrapped up, we did something not uncommon for us.  A backyard BBQ with friends and neighbors.  But tonight, more than at any other point the realization struck all the parents-our kids are getting big.

In the crowd along with 11.5 and 9.5 were our original neighbors who have two girls 9 and 7.  Our long time neighbors who have two boys 12 and 14 and the boy from across the street who is 10.  By and large at least pieces of this crew have gathered every Memorial Day since we’ve lived here, 8 years now.

Tonight though, the assortment of kids and ages showed they are quickly become young men and women-no longer kids.  More independent, making their own decisions, playing together with their own conflict resolution.

So yeah, as my sore knee throbbed at me the other parents and I did notice we were actually able to have conversations without needing to interject or interact with the kids as much.

I will admit, a part of me misses that.  (I’ll also admit given my knee today I could not have taken part in the lacrosse game that was taking place).

But a larger part of me was proud of the children we’ve raised. There is a lot of Risa in my kids and even a little bit of me and they are doing OK.

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