Mike Hagan: Truly blessed | AspenTimes.com

Mike Hagan: Truly blessed

Eight years ago, while still living in Friday Harbor, Wash., I wrote a column about the birth of my daughter, Willow.

As you might expect, it was filled with emotion, feelings that only people who have witnessed the birth of their child can truly understand. And it also was filled with fear. A few months before she was born, the Oklahoma City bombing had taken place, and I questioned the sanity of bringing a child into such an insane world.

My conclusion was that the only way to cure that insanity was to raise my child to be the best person she could be, to instill in her the belief that kindness, in the end, still ruled this world. To do otherwise would be to give in to the fear, the terrorists, the few who believe that cruelty, revenge and hatred take precedence over everyone else’s right to live a free and safe life.

Eight years later I still feel that way, despite trying to explain to my daughter, then 5, what happened on September 11. Despite discussing with her what the war in Iraq is all about. Despite a thousand such discussions about mean people, religion, racism, etc.

The past weekend was a great weekend to be a father. I spent much of Saturday standing in the brisk breeze with other parents cheering on Willow’s soccer team, the Green Goblins. Undefeated throughout the season, her team of 5- to 7-year-olds held on to win the championship trophy.

More prone to kindness than competition, my daughter for some reason has developed a deep love for soccer, which at her age is a full-contact sport. She runs up and down the field, and every once in a while gets into the fray and actually makes a gutsy play.

For two years now I’ve witnessed this. And I’m not only amazed at Willow’s love for the game, but how these kids can compete and not once – not once! – did I ever see any anger break out between the kids, the parents or the coaches. We were all there simply for the love of sharing something special together.

On Sunday, I grimaced as my daughter lost her second tooth. I spent the rest of the day with her and a few of her friends on a birthday trip to Glenwood Springs for lunch at the brewery and a tour through the Fairy Caves.

As I watched these girls, some of whom have known each since the age of 1, it hit me how fast my daughter is growing up. It was only yesterday she was my little baby, dependent on her parents for everything she needed. And now she’s my little girl, quickly turning into a young lady. Eight more years, and she’ll be preparing to soon head out into the world on her own.

How has it happened so fast? How many special moments of her life have I let slip by because I was too busy doing something “important”? And how many instances of beauty have I forgotten in the rush of life, that are etched somewhere in my memory?

For everyone out there who are the parents of young children, or who plan to someday become parents, believe all those people who tell you to hold on to every moment, because your child will be gone before you know it.

It is unfathomable to me that after the tooth fairy had come and gone, Willow and I had a long discussion about the value of money, about how maybe she should save the money for something really important down the road. She responded by saying that maybe she should put her money in the bank for college. I almost began to cry.

And that’s the greatness and sadness of being a parent – watching them grow up, experiencing their young lives, while at the same time knowing someday you’ll have to let them go.

At the same time, when that day comes when I’ll have to let Willow head out to make her mark on the world, I know the world will indeed be a better place. I’ll know I was right eight years ago, that kindness still rules the world.

[Mike Hagan is Editor in Chief of The Aspen Times. His column appears every other Tuesday]

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