#AtoZChallenge: H is for Halfway There

stormtrooper grass

Three girls, three schools.

HThree cities, technically. And all three play soccer in three different towns, too, sprawled from the Appalachian Mountains to the Carolinas Piedmont. I’m in halfway through it all, one daughter engaged, another a budding star in high school and club soccer.

The third – who knows what limits she’ll push, in a greenhouse or on stage or with a ball at her feet.

It gives the illusion of my importance in being halfway there. I’m not lifting my youngest to my shoulders for a ride, but not yet ready to give away my oldest to her future groom. Take your time, I urged them the day they showed us the ring. Take your time.

I don’t want to slow the whole process, to hang onto those moments the girls are under my wing, under my thumb, still looking to me as the strongest man in the world.

They’ve figured out I am not. Yet if they see me still fighting, fighting like that bluebird I saw chasing crows from his nest, they’ll believe the race isn’t always to the strongest. Or fastest. Maybe they’re not thinking of it at all, between matches and training and life.

Seizing the chance to live

If they’re not, that’s fine with me.

It’s a good life, this. My friend sat next to me at a breakfast table, spoon swirling in a cup of grits, words drenched with agony over events taking place in Syria right now. Why would you start a family there? not looking for an answer but I gave one anyway.

For the chance, I was saying, to live.

Amid the fight or flight mechanisms that govern us, there’s a pull to pass on lineage. You forget that kids in poor households have longer odds for college. You do your best to provide a role model. Sometimes it’s what you do after you fail at that that teaches most.

And you find yourself halfway through it all, and what a glorious place to be.

You beat some odds, ignore others. Global concerns and civic strife and your very own health and perceived limitations just lift off into the ether and out into space. You’re on a sideline or a highway or rushing to see your daughter act, a gaudy bouquet in your hand.

Being halfway there feels good, despite how far it feels from your college girl.

Always room to improve

Life will likely take her even further. You wonder, with her closer to the end of the assembly line of fatherly influence whether you are well equipped at all to help construct her.

You are, though, but should always strive for better.

See where she is? It’s not status or anything quantifiable. It’s in the words she quotes, the belonging she’s found and the proximity you feel to her when she sees a video of the cheesiest pizza in the history of man and she shares it with you.

And it’s sitting here now, writing and waiting for morning when another child will play in a college showcase. It’s not about the potential prize but about this leg of the journey, of watching her trajectory still sky-bound and unknown.

And it’s in that youngest child, now tall as the others. It’s watching her try to learn to make a family tree for a gift for relatives she just met this weekend. It’s picking up Wake Forest gear every time you’re in Winston-Salem because that’s her dream school.

It’s seeing their mother’s beauty and resolve in them each, and wondering when and how their promising paths contain anything I could offer beyond a steady ride everywhere and soft blankets to wrap in and food on their plates.

Then I see them goof off, wrestling and Facetiming their big sister, alive with the gift of annoyance and a buoyancy from me I can see clearly in them. It’s there, with them, that spirit to make a ruckus and forget the odds, even when they’re in their favor.

And I find myself halfway through it, and ready for more.

raising children quote


  1. Great post Eli. Great perspectives worthy of taking in. With a daughter in High School (and also a budding soccer talent) this was a timely post for me to read. Thanks for the insight. Will check back again soon.

  2. Another beautiful post. Words of advice: even as an empty nester I still feel halfway there. Why? As a parent there is always the wondering how their life is turning out.

    1. Thanks, Cricket. I think we’ll always feel halfway there, or at least, I hope that’s the case. I don’t think it ever ends, and that’s fine with me. Lends me a sense of purpose.

      1. Our family joke is that I worked hard to raise our kinder to become self-sufficient adults (washing machine instructions, packing own lunches–I was such a mean mom), and so they don’t need to call home! They got it figured out. Hummph.

      2. Or, you could train them such that they can just take care of us eventually. It’s sometimes tough to sneak it all by the kinchen sometimes, eh?

  3. My only child 👧will be 30 this summer… THIRTY!!!!!! 😓 She got married last summer 💒 and I was so consumed with the plans and details😵 of the wedding 💒 that it didn’t hit me until we were all walking down the aisle…. They grow up fast! Enjoy what time⏰ you have while they still see you as the most important man👨 in their life! 💖

    1. Maybe it’s by design that life with our kids keeps us so busy, Courtney. I don’t want to think about who is most important among men in their life just yet – I will be appreciative of being in the conversation!

    1. Wow is right. There’s still so much love between us but she’s forging her own path and knows that I miss her so. It’s what we raise them to do … right?

  4. Man, it’s tough when your babies grow up. Just yesterday my youngest started school, now she’s married and has five children of her own ~sigh~ But oh what fun my grandchildren are!!!!!! 😀

    1. No sense fighting it though, Lyn. They won’t realize how short the time frame is, our kids, until they’re parents themselves. I can’t even imagine the grandkids stage yet …

  5. Very poignant post! I enjoyed reading.

    And by the way, ever since I first read the title of your post, I’ve been quietly humming parts of “Living on a Prayer” in my head… “Oh, we’re halfway there… Oh, livin’ on a prayer…” LOL!

    Visiting from A to Z

    1. Thanks, Ericka! I was all serious in this one. Bon Jovi didn’t escape my mind while writing the title. I’d have used She Dropped the Bomb on Me, but there weren’t any Hs.

  6. This is such a beautiful post. The question your friend asked about why one would want to start a family in Syria right now really made me pause and think. Raising children really is an art. Your children are blessed to have you as a father.

    1. Thanks, Claire. The question of whether to bring a child into this world comes with a million answers and none at all, but I have to believe that no matter where the universe planted us, I would want this life of raising and worrying about and teaching and learning from my three daughters. No question.

      I’m fortunate parenthood isn’t a science, because have you seen my science grades?

      I’m the blessed one.

  7. This is wonderful, Eli. I love your musings on life and fatherhood especially. I look forward to this day (though I certainly don’t want to rush the experience either). Of having raised children I’m so proud of with every fiber of my being and every ounce of love in my heart. It is a good life, eh?

    Also I didn’t know your daughter is engaged!! Mazel 🙂 xoxo

    1. Thanks, Charlotte. I muse a lot, even when I’m not supposed to. The experience will come in its own time.

      It’s a wonderful life, even as we sit together and their faces are stuck in their phones. I’ll tickle one now and then.

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