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The morning after her Spring Break ended, my daughter was extremely reluctant to get out of the car today when my husband and I dropped her off at school. I reminded her, not for the first time, about how important strong finishes are.
In my daughter’s case, it was about ending a successful Spring Break week during which she had enjoyed day camp at the YMCA, performed well at her hula class, attended a festival with her parents, both of whom worked during the event, and, with a little assistance, organized her class books so that she can have a strong finish for the last few months of second grade.
For her fathers, Spring Break begins this week. My husband, a teacher, will be at home and out and about in Honolulu. I have worked hard to have assignments completed in advance, and, because of a pretty successful year in philanthropy, I’m taking more days off in a two-week period than I have in a long time.
My daughter and I watch a lot of tennis together. I tell her frequently that closing out a match is more difficult than winning the first set. Sometimes it’s a matter of jumping too far ahead in your mind before you’re actually there.
This happens a lot during marathons. So many times I’ve yearned for the finish line, imagining how fun it will be to receive my medal, see my family, have a great meal, enjoy the post-marathon endorphins.
Now that my legs have 21 completed marathons to their credit, I know better. I actually try to enjoy each mile.
The more toward the middle of middle age I’ve slid, the more I try to apply this maxim to other parts of my life. When I write a poem, even if I struggle with a few lines or words, I try to enjoy the struggle. If I’ve hit a bump or two in a conversation with a friend, well, I know I’ll probably be fine. Even if I’m at my wits’ end with my daughter, I tap myself in the moment to remember how grateful I am that she was born.
Of course my daughter is still seven and I’m a bit older! I’m so aware that I’ve had decades to acquire some measure of calm and wisdom with considerable help from friends, family and probably quite a few guardian angels.
How could I possibly expect my daughter to find equanimity and do the right thing when she is hell-bent on finishing her snack in the car when we drop her off at school, to realize too many bedtime treats are not the best way to end an evening, not to want just one more song sung to her?
I look forward to the day, but I’m sure in no rush, when my daughter and I can talk about matches she was able to close out, her favorite last miles at marathons, about how satisfying it is to finish a poem.
I think all this and hope she knows how much I love her.