Shared Experience

My kids have had their first Grateful Dead experience – and it was a success.  We shared the experience last night at Madison Square Garden as Dead and Company covered three hours or so of material.  As we were heading home, I realized this is just the latest in the shared experience my girls and I have.

Through academic achievement, school performance and athletic endeavor, my girls have allowed me to share in the experience of their lives.  Seeing their conquests and even some disappointment as time has gone along.

And since Risa passed away (nearly seven years ago) the girls and I have shared experiences – starting with skiing in the weeks after the funeral.  We’ve been able to enjoy that for years (even though 15.0 “retired” from the sport last winter).  We’ve done mud-runs together, vacationed together and celebrated life events together.

That shared experience I hope is a bond that the girls can count on – because as we rip days off the calendar this school year, we get closer to 17.0 going away to school.  Whether we’re ready for that or not – the day will come and we’ll have another shared experience (albeit this one apart).

 

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The Holiday Break Upon Us

Holiday SkiingWell, we made it.  With the holiday break upon us, and another year coming to a close we can all take a moment to sit back, reflect and project.  2013 was not so bad, and in looking ahead 2014 seems to have a lot of great possibilities – but first we need to navigate the holiday break upon us.

Now before doing what I do and rolling your eyes at another year-end romp through things that were and weren’t, keep reading.  This is not that.

Often when people talk about the holiday season, there is a sense of renewal.  The Hanukkah story is one of triumph.  It’s the day Christ was born, and it all culminates with the ball dropping in Times Square and we all get a fresh start on a new year.

SUPPORT THE SINGLE DAD IN THE 2014 CUPID UNDIE RUN

For me (and I’ve never asked the girls about this), heading into the holiday break there is a different kind of renewal.  Three  years ago, when Risa passed, it was in the weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas.  That year, Hanukkah was just starting (I remember lighting three candles, I could be wrong) and I was preparing for a funeral.  The blow-by-blow of that day is well chronicled so I won’t go into all of that.

Instead, I’ll focus on the moment of renewal.  The way things went from December 3, 2010 to December 31, 2010 were a bit of a blur.  The girls and I were home for the week of the funeral.  The went back to school the following week and I tried to pull the rest of our lives back together.  Then I went back to work for a week, and then the holiday break was upon us.

It was in that moment, kind of as a last-minute decision I set a course of renewal.  We went skiing.

I had done a lot of skiing before we moved to Boston and we had our first child.  After that I had gone 10 years without skiing.  The girls and I talked about skiing in the winter of 2009, but we just could not pull it off.  So, off we went.

Looking back at that moment I see it as the time we all began to realize we would be alright, there would be a life ahead of us.  We now had something we can share, a new experience and one that allowed us at that time to come together and enjoy memories-without having to relive the painful ones that were on the surface at that moment.

Last winter-with issues with both of my knees and a mild winter we were not able to ski.  But this year, the holiday break is upon us, and we will be off to build on our shared memories, enjoy our time together and remember that we can still have fun-and that’s not so bad.

ADD THE SINGLE DAD’S BOOK TO YOUR HOLIDAY READING LIST

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Experience the Dictator

As a parent one of my goals is to try to impart my experiences on my kids-and hopefully lead them to the lessons learned.  But the reality is they will have to have their own experiences and draw their own lessons.  I can only hope I have done and will do a good enough job in teaching them how to learn from their experiences and how to find good experiences from bad.

And right now I can probably use some of that sage learning for myself.

While I have never been a true student of history and I’ve never been one to claim those who do not know history are doomed to repeat it-I do believe that our experiences and our personal histories help to shape our choices today and our futures beyond.

Case in point is my latest brain teaser-relating to one of my least favorite topics to dwell on-relationships.  As I go about entering into and nurturing relationships in many ways I am back to my days of being 25 years old.  The significant difference is the mountain of responsibility I manage along with the relationship that I did not have when I was 25.

Even back then, this was no slam dunk topic for me.  Fast forward to 2012, with two kids, a career, a house and being out of that market for the last 18 years or so-it’s a challenge.  What makes it even more perplexing is that unlike when I was 25 and dating 25 year old’s the people in my dating range also have a new mountain of experiences and responsibilities that they have to navigate too.

So being successful in a relationship in 2012 as a single parent means not only balancing the give and take of partnership.  But also navigating the life experiences of the partner-and as I’ve learned this month that’s no easy ask.

At each crossroad it’s easy to look inward and gaze through the window of my life and pick a path to negotiate.  It’s much tougher to negotiate cross roads through two lifetimes-when the intersecting roads are years upstream of the experiences.

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Visiting Day

OK, so first, this post is like two weeks later than it should be-but a lot has been going on between the new job and home improvements etc.  So, better late than never…

As anyone who even casually reads this blog knows, my kids went off to sleep away camp for the first time this summer.  There was the stress of getting everything they needed, getting it labeled and getting it packed-but somehow between school events and softball games we made that happen.  You can read in on the day I dropped the girls at the bus here to get a flavor for my overall mindset about sending them off to camp.

Roughly three weeks into camp (two weeks ago) was visiting day.  Visiting day for me struck up a lot of memories about visiting day when I went to camp.  To help with those memories, my mom made the trip to Monticello with me.

The picture is when I was walking onto the camp grounds, the kids were all lined up, waiting to see their parents, and then there was a mad dash.  The interesting thing here is that I saw 8.5 first-well before she saw me.  I didn’t see 11.0 until she was about four feet away.  Seeing them made me realize how much I missed having them around, but seeing them also made me realize how good it’s been for them to be at camp and having this experience that is theirs and one they can share with me.

As we walked around the camp grounds, went swimming, took out a row-boat, sat under a tree eating fried chicken, getting ice cream at the canteen-I realized this was their place and I was just the visitor.  I think that’s the first time I felt like that with the girls.  It’s not a feeling I get when I go to their school.  It’s not really the kind of feeling I got when I went to see their plays and gymnastic shows at day camp.  I got the feeling this was their place and their memories they could share with me the way they want to-and when they want to.

Hopefully, they’ll be willing to share and hopefully I can get them to embrace this concept that it’s great for them to have moments that are theirs to share.

 

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