I took my daughter ice skating for the first time last weekend. For me, it was the first time in 15 years that I had laced up the skates. For Kat, it was the second time ever on the ice. As we entered the rink in our rented skates and touched the ice, it occurred to me that it was going to be a very long day. We both hugged the boards and made it about a grand total of a foot before we both fell. Lovely.
I was wearing skates that were clearly too large. My feet were aching, the skates were crooked and the laces weren’t tight. In fact, the laces were hardly laces at all. I had to change skates. I had to. I was in so much pain. I told my daughter to wait for me while I got a different pair. When I came back, she was standing by the boards, staring at the ice and hoping…hoping her dad would be back soon to tackle this challenge with her.
I’m not complaining. I’m really not. We ended up skating round and round for an hour and Kat did a fantastic job. I was so proud of her. She held my hand the entire time and I held her up more times than I could remember. Her dad wiped out once and suffered a great deal of pain the entire time–but nothing, and I mean nothing was going to take me off that ice that day. Nothing.
You just can’t dream up memories like this. This is why we parent. This is why we lose sleep, pass up on social events and deal with tantrums. As a single dad, I don’t get the day-to-day memories that her mother gets. When I get these moments, I relish them. They are magnified by ten and I cherish them so. My daughter doesn’t know that her dad is out of shape. She doesn’t know that I used to skate around like a seasoned hockey player back in the day. She doesn’t feel my ankles or feet. All she knows is, her dad is with her–skating around and making her very happy.
Children are amazing. They challenge us in so many ways, but we love it. I have no idea what my daughter will become, or what our relationship will be ten years from now. All I know is, that day, on that ice, I’ve never felt better about being a dad. It made me think about all the memories I have had with my parents. The sacrifices they made for me–too many to mention. When I have moments like I did last week with my child, it hits home. I realize why I do what I do for my own kids. Now I know why my parents struggled to give me the life they wanted for me.
It was near the end of our skate and we wiped out on the ice. Covered with “snow” and cold we laughed. I told my daughter that the first thing you do when you wipe out on the ice is to lift up your hands so the other skaters don’t skate over them. A good safety tip, for sure. She’s covered with ice shavings and I am worried about her hands. This is why we parent.
What a beautiful, wild ride it is. And I love it.