Parenting itself is more dance than sport. There's no win, lose or finish line; just the constant push and pull, the unexpected grace notes in the tightly choreographed routines of a busy household.
The lunch boxes line up in a row at night, waiting to be filled; the papers shuffle from backpacks to kitchen tables and back again. At the middle/high school in the morning, one car pulls away from the curb just as another pulls up to deliver its precious cargo.
After you've done this dance for a while, the steps become familiar. But new routines are added all the time. Just when we've become adept at diaper changing, we're tasked with potty training. We succeed at getting our kids to feed themselves, chew with their mouths closed and finish their vegetables, and then their teeth start to wiggle, causing anxiety, foregone apples and inquiries into the Tooth Fairy's going rate. Then, the permanent teeth grow in -- and the orthodontic adventures begin.
We stumble sometimes, and we have our moments of grace. We look back often, even though we have no choice but to move forward -- and sometimes, it seems like we're going in circles.
I find myself, suddenly, with a daughter in high school (High school?? How did this happen?) and a third-grader who seems to grow taller and more independent every day. I know that my place in this dance will increasingly be in the wings and on the sidelines. That is as it should be.
The fact that they still want me there is all that matters.
Lisa Miller recently accepted a full-time position in the Office of Community Relations at SUNY Oneonta, and this is her last column. Look for her at dance recitals, swim meets and other community events. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.