Matt Knutson: Always be cognizant of how you’re changing

Published 9:31 am Friday, June 17, 2016

Rochester resident Matt Knutson is the communications and events director for United Way of Olmsted County.

“I know you’re saying you don’t want her to go to college now, but I think you’ll change your mind when she’s a bit older,” I told my wife. Sera was having a tough day of motherhood. Our daycare said they suspected Gracelyn was teething and she successfully fell asleep in her crib in the adjacent room for the first time. Too much growing up was crammed in 24 hours for my wife to be able to celebrate our little girl’s progress. Instead, it was a time to grieve that baby Gracelyn might not be her tiny baby for forever.

Both Sera and I value the higher education we received, and on a regular day, would scoff at someone suggesting that our little one wouldn’t follow in our footsteps. A few nights ago though, Sera was convinced that she would never allow our daughter to go off to college. If Gracelyn were to go off to college, that means she wouldn’t be a cute little baby anymore. At some point, our little girl will grow up to be a brilliant woman, and as proud of her as we will be, I’m sure we’ll still reminisce on her time as a munchkin.

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Changing — growing up — is hard. It was hard for our parents to see us grow into adults, and it is apparently already hard for Sera to see Gracelyn getting ever so slightly older. These next few months will be filled with milestones, many of which I hope we can celebrate instead of despair over. We must remember that growth is good.

Have you ever encountered an old friend and realized you no longer know who they are? Somewhere in the time between your last encounter and the present moment, they’ve changed. Life continued onward for both of you in different directions, and, hopefully for the better, they have become someone new. It’s entirely appropriate to ache for who that person once was, but also important to honor who they are now. Sometimes growth takes people in different directions, but that can be good.

There’s a quiz of sorts going around Facebook involving you asking your partner a series of questions and then sharing their answers. Sera and I haven’t done it, but I have read the questions from a few of my friends that have, and my favorite questions is when the person asking the questions inquires to their partner, “What makes you most proud of me?”

If Sera were to ask me that, I’d share I’m most proud of her whenever she is doing something to grow, something to improve herself. I’m not meaning to say she needs improving, but rather to say her actions for desiring growth inspire me to continue to improve too. From learning a new skill at work to landing a writing gig, I’m always proud of her when she’s pursuing improvement. I hope it is something we both continually do.

I hope it is something our daughter does, too. Gracelyn has an entire life of growing ahead of her. These baby teeth that she may or may not be getting right now will eventually fall out and be replaced with permanent teeth. The crib she is now successfully sleeping in will be converted into a twin bed. Many years later, she’ll be packing up her pillow and her favorite stuffed animal elephant as she heads to college. “And we’ll be moving into the house next door to her dormitory, and we’ll be taking classes with her, because an engaged mind is a young mind! Amen!” added in my wife.

Together we’re all growing and changing into newer versions of ourselves. Let’s be cognizant of who we’re changing into. By purposefully improving yourself over time, you can become the person you always wanted to be instead of settling into a routine and watching the world pass you by. As much as Sera and I may want to bask in the days of baby Gracelyn, we’re not going to wallow in the memories for too long. It’s more important to live in the present and plan for the future — college and all.