Once upon a time, when I was young and dumb, I had the opportunity to work with a woman that unknowingly taught me many life lessons. She changed the course of her life by choosing to raise her grandson. While her friends were talking about retiring and going on weekend retreats, she was sitting at the dining room table doing homework every night with a fifth grader. And while her choice offered him a far better life than he ever would have had, she would be the first to tell you that she was no her. She felt a failure as a parent in the way she raised her daughter and was just hoping to get it right this time. At the end of each school year, most schools hold some form of recognition ceremony or banquet for their students. Every year, my coworker took off to attend the ceremony at her grandson’s school. Finally, one year, I mentioned to her that her grandson must do well in school, because every year she attended the ceremony to watch him be recognized. I will never forget her response. She told me that he never earned one single award; his name was never mentioned at any of the ceremonies. She explained that her grandson struggled academically, was not an athlete nor was he involved in any clubs. I couldn’t understand why she would take off work every year to go to an awards ceremony where the person she was going to see get the award was never awarded (did I mention I was young and dumb?). She went on to tell me that the reason she went was to show her support of him. You see, just passing from one grade to the next was an achievement for him and she wanted him to always know that, no matter if his name was called or not, she was proud of him and would be there to show her support of his efforts.
This lesson has stayed with me for many years. And while I have tried to make it my goal to attend every ceremony, dance recital, t-ball game, basketball game and track meet, sometimes I have fallen short because, well, life gets in the way sometimes. But it’s important. Those moments are important. My daughter is grown and moved away with children of her own. I look back on her life and the time I had her and realize that it was too short and went by too quickly. My son is a sophomore and I know the sand in the hour glass is running out for my time with him, too. We have our whole lives to work, build a career and climb the ladder, but we only have a few short years as parents. Don’t miss out; it’s important. Show up, be present, even if their names are never called. They will know your love and support.