“Excuse me, don’t call me daddy anymore, you can call me Ironman”, Josh jokes with his kids.
Last week I had the honor of watching my son, Joshua, complete his first Ironman. I had been planning this trip for a long time, soon after he signed up for the event.
For those that don’t know, An Ironman Triathlon is one of a series of long-distance triathlon races organized by the World Triathlon Corporation (WTC), consisting of a 2.4-mile (3.86 km) swim, a 112-mile (180.25 km) bicycle ride and a marathon 26.22-mile (42.20 km) run, raced in that order. I cannot comprehend that distance.
Josh has been training for months for this event. The training was grueling and time consuming, both for Josh and his family.
The excitement of following him on and off throughout the day and connecting with him while on his bike ride and run, to the moment when he crossed the finish line will last with me for a life time.
The experience of watching his wife, Kaytie, and their four children cheering him on was emotional and humbling. A proud moment, indeed. A family moment.
I spent the rest of the week in Tennessee snuggling and loving on my Grandkids. The demands of raising a family today are different yet the same from when I raised my four kids. When you’re in it, you just do it. Once the cubs have left the cave, you wonder how you survived. But you do.
My parents were very involved with my children as they grew up. I certainly needed the support, and the unconditional love they gave my kids, and the time they spent with them helped mold them into the incredible adults they are today.
Kids don’t change much. I had boys trying to find their place at fourteen. Hormones running rampant, struggling between parents and peers. Girls. Siblings. The stress of school and homework. Such pressure.
Eight-year-old little girls. Their worry of trying to make sure everything that’s required of them for the next school day is completed, but not enough time to do it in. School activities, sports and early bedtimes. Girlfriends and drama. Tired, and at times overwhelmed. Such pressure.
I remember the relief when bedtime rolled around. Finally, I might get some time to myself. Not necessarily time to do the things I wanted to do for me, but time to complete the tasks needed to get things ready for the next day. Time without having to remind them for the one hundredth time to brush their teeth, to answer one more question, to wipe one more bottom, one more tear. By the end of the day I was exhausted and lucky if I had the energy to empty the dishwasher. Such pressure.
Now here I am. Those days as a busy parent are over for me. I wouldn’t have traded that time for anything. My children were my world, they still are.
But now I am blessed to watch my kids raise their own children (and at times amused). My role has changed, but it is still important. Being a parent never ends. It is a life-long commitment, and one I take very seriously. I may fail. I do fail miserably sometimes. But kids and partners- you have my promise that I will take care of myself to the best of my ability so I can continue to care for you and yours.
Children are our gifts to cherish. We are theirs. We are Ironmen.