CUTLINE: The Walz family recently celebrated its first high school graduation, pictured (front, l-r) Jeremy, Alex, Becky, Allison, Ashley; (back) Andre.
by Becky Walz
An introductory column is way overdue for many folks, but there are still many people throughout northeast Iowa who may want a chance to get to know me as the news editor of the Elgin Echo, Fayette Leader, and Ossian Bee.
I have worked in the newspaper industry for nearly 15 years in various capacities, from ad sales, design, composition to sports writer, and now I have reached a longtime goal as editor.
With four teenage children, I find that our house in Calmar usually has people coming and going — family, friends, and classmates.
The house has always been full to the brim with laughter and jokes, considering my oldest two are boys — Alex, who has now graduated, and Andre, who will be senior at South Winn in the fall. Next comes Ashley, who will be a sophomore, and trailing not so far behind is Allison, who will be in eighth grade.
Over the years it has been a stopping point for many classmates as they wait for rides home in between school and sporting practices, games, etc.
One year, when our boys were in junior high, we hosted a Homecoming gathering for nearly 40 seventh- and eighth-grade boys and girls, complete with food and drinks.
My husband, Jeremy, had pulled an old couch out of our basement into the garage, added two chairs, two TVs and hooked up the pair of PlayStation 2’s, and the contests were on. In the backyard there were kids playing football and basketball, but every parent knew where his or her child was that Homecoming night between the parade and game. And no harm was done.
I mention the children and the ages because not so long ago I was sitting at a swim meet, watching a mother chase after three small children, and, yes, they were going in three different directions. I couldn’t help but feel nostalgic and laugh at the same time.
While life was incredibly busy when my children were younger, it was also a time of memories as we ran from Little League games to swim team practice or a meet, eating meals at a variety of concession stands or out of the cooler I had packed.
There was even a year where we had something happening every day of the week for six weeks straight and many days with more than one activity to run to.
Now that my children are older, I have come to realize how much time I spend with them is as important to them as it is to me, and trust me, it isn’t easy.
I often hear the words, “You’re coming to the game/meet, right?”
I do my very best to be there on the sidelines, as does my husband, who drives from our Calmar home to Caledonia daily for work.
I have to say, it wouldn’t be but for my kids that I am able to attend so many of their events — they wash the laundry, do the dishes, vacuum, and clean the house whenever their schedule allows, so I don’t feel the need to go home and do it. Instead I can sit and watch them grow up.
Over the years I have come to believe that there are many stages in parents’ lives that impact who our children become.
First, when a child is born, parents deal with diaper bags, formula, pulling rocks from their child’s mouth (and other things he or she tries to eat), and feel the trepidation of taking their child out to eat or on a trip to the grocery store.
Next, because athletics continue to start at much earlier ages these days, the daily trips to the ball diamond, football field, gyms, and pools begin. Who knows if the clothes or towels you send with the child will return to your home — you can end up with one that isn’t even similar.
Scholastic achievements and social skills begin to develop, and pretty soon kids only check in at the events for money — for food from the concession stand despite the cooler a food sitting right next to you.
Finally, as they become teenagers, hugs and kisses are few and far between, but it is the subtle hints of affection that one holds dear – a high-five as I walk into the room, a card, or a thanks for attending a game.
Most teens have their own wheels nowadays, and mine are no different. However, I always know where they are headed as they walk out the door as individuals and have an peace of mind that they know who they are and will always be there for one another.
As I endured Alex’s senior year, I felt tears in my eyes several times as he experienced his last football game, last Homecoming, and last day of school. But as he walked across the stage in May in his cap and gown, I knew he is ready for many more firsts — his first day of college, his first real job, his first apartment, and so much more, just as my other children will be when that day comes along. And I will be just as proud of what Jeremy and I have accomplished as parents.