I can't really put into words the overwhelming emotions that hit me when one of my groomsmaids, Sophie, walked down the aisle, moments before Dina and I were married.
Oh, wow, it was just too much for me. Dad's remarrying with the daughters at ages 12 and 10. This isn't how I initially drew it up, but it was meant to be. Sophie and I had gone through a lot, and seeing her walk down the aisle — I just lost it.
A "blink of an eye." I've often heard that parenting feels like a blink of an eye. One day, the kids are babies. Then, boom, they're in college. A blink of an eye.
Yeah, that's accurate. I'm feeling how quickly life happened as Sophie just went to prom, accepted her dorm assignment and will graduate in a couple weeks. A blink of an eye.
Y'know, if life is a Texas hold 'em tournament, which it most likely is, you're going to have to push all your chips in the middle of the table at some point — or multiple points — and you only should do that when you know it's the right move. And even when it's a right move, the cards don't always hold up.
I went all-in with parenting, and the cards have held up. Even with the inevitable ups and downs of life, I've enjoyed this ride. All the days, years, stages — they've been a pleasure, and I deeply love the girls. Thank God, I went all-in. How could I not?
It's not like being a dad ends at age 18 or college, but I'm being forced to reinvent my identity a bit. This dad has to adapt to a newer version of life that isn't so dad-centric. I don't know if I'm transitioning into the Elder Statesman or Golf-aholic or Gardener or Whatever, but I'm forced to turn the dial down on my dad stuff.Press-Telegram days, and part of my conclusion was that maybe I should've enjoyed my 10 years there more. I did enjoy it to a certain degree, but it was difficult to accept the constant downsizing and looking back to the past about what newspapers used to be.
The good news is that I don't feel that way about parenting. I've enjoyed it — big time. Of course, I made a zillion mistakes. I tried to make everything perfect in the beginning. I dabbled in helicoptering, then finally took some cues from How to Raise an Adult, and feel my approach has been successful. This has been life.
As we head into graduation season, it's totally different having a daughter graduating from high school than the 14 other graduations I've seen as a teacher. I get it now. I get the unified emotion we parents feel. Yeah, man, we've been through a lot. Let's move those tassels to the left and be proud.
I don't exactly know how I'll transition to the next step — a parent with a college kid — but that's fine. I'll enjoy this phase. And guess what? It's not really about me. It's about her, and I'm proud of the individual she is and will be.