Five Things I’ve Learned From my Daughter

God has put all kinds of teachers in our path  They’re disguised as bosses and baristas, friends and foes, artists and authors.  And daughters.

Monday was our daughter, Katy’s 28th birthday.  She celebrated with friends in D.C. where she lives.  As a mom, celebrating her from afar, I started to think of some of the things she’s taught me in the past 28 years.  Here are just a few:

1. There is a quote from The West Wing appropriate for any situation.                Kind of like The Godfather.  You know… “Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”  But the West Wing, unlike  the Godfather is Capra-esque and will make you believe it’s possible to walk, have witty conversations, and help people better their lives all in one hour. The “Shiboleth” episode alone is an antidote to “movies about all of the things in the real world”.  If you haven’t watched the first three seasons, go do it now.  You’ll thank me.  While many story lines are uplifting, some quotes just make me laugh, and Katy knows them all.

Example for the State of the Union:

President Bartlet (going over the speech): We meant “stronger” here, right?
Sam Seaborn (speech-writer): What’s it say?
President Bartlet: I’m proud to report our country is stranger than it was a year ago?
Sam Seaborn: Could go either way.

Katy works in D.C. and teaches me to hope for a better America. 🙂

2.  Anything Running  One step is possible.  And every step counts.  About 3 years ago, Katy set her mind to becoming a runner. (West Wing nerds, note another reference below)IMG_3805

Since then she has run 7 half-marathons in a 4 states along with other races. She has grown faster and stronger and even more disciplined than she already was.

When I was challenged (as a total non-runner) to train for a half marathon, she became my coach and the best trainer I can imagine.  Every day when I reported in on my progress and was sure I’d never make it, she encouraged me in a way that said, “If you ran one step today, that’s one step more than most people.  It all counts and you’ll get there.”

3.  Own your awesome, but don’t use it as a weapon.  For Katy that’s meant owning her inner geek.  Katy is freaky when it comes to knowledge about history.  If you want the best tour of Washington D.C., she’s your girl.  Time was when she loved to play Trivial Pursuit because she might not be the popular mean girl cheerleader, but she could trounce anyone with her brain power.  

As an adult, though, one of the things she’s learned to do well is to neither deny this part of who she is, or use it in a condescending or hurtful way.  When we ran a 10K together in D.C. she distracted me from the pain by telling me stories of Robert E. Lee as we ran past Arlington Cemetery.  However, if I don’t know who Boutros boutros Ghali is or if I forget the senator from North Carolina, she won’t mock me.

Katy encourages me to own my strengths.

4.  Days are always better when you say hello to a dog or a child.  Katy needs a dog.  Or a child.  She loves them.  But until she gets one, she makes friends with multiple dogs and children on her runs and commute to work.  She’s always texting us delightful pictures like this one where she said the dog was helping his owner count push ups, literally going up and down.

dog push ups

Katy shows me how to celebrate the little things.

5.  You stretch for friends no matter what, because community matters.  As an introvert  (like her father), Katy is happy to go to a movie alone, or curl up with a good book alone, or do…well, just about anything alone (much to the horror of me and her sister).  But she also recognizes the value of community and is an amazingly kind and loyal friend.  To that end I have seen her stretch herself in incredible ways.  Like the time she paid to rent a car in order to drive (which she hates to do) an hour into Virginia to a small wedding where she knew no one.  She got lost and felt awkward, but she showed up for her friend because that’s the kind of person she is.  One who stretches.

And she inspires me to stretch too.

Who are you learning from?  Maybe tell them today.  

Happy Birthday Katy, and thank you for teaching me.

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