My Perspective: Life’s softer milestones

“There are moments which mark your life. Moments when you realize nothing will ever be the same and time is divided into two parts, before this, and after this.” - John Hobbes


Life is filled with lots of big moments. Days like my baptism, confirmation, high school graduation, college graduation, my wedding day, and the birth of our three boys. These are the days that are most documented and photographed in my life. And these are the milestones moments that will someday be mentioned in my obituary.


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But as important as these life moments are, there are several other life moments that might be just as impactful... they just don’t come with quite as much fanfare.


During the first 20+ years of our lives, many of these moments really shape our lives. My three boys (ages 11, 14 and 16) are right in the midst of many of these life-shaping moments. My oldest has his driver’s license, my middle son will get his driving permit this month, and my youngest will be starting junior high in the fall. Some of these important moments got me thinking more about the “softer” milestone moments in life. They really just happen once in your life and they are pretty big ones. I came up with a list of moments that were memorable for me. I’m guessing many of these have been memorable in your life, too.


Softer Milestone Moments


The first 2-3 years of life are jam packed with developmental milestones like sitting up, walking, talking, etc. I didn’t include these...

• Getting your own library card.

• Learning to tie your own shoes.

• First time you are able to read a book to a parent or grandparent.

• First checking/savings account.

• Attending first funeral (that you knew what was going on). For me, it was a relative in Duluth.

• Gaining more insight on Santa, the Easter Bunny and Tooth Fairy.

• First “slow dance.”

• First adult conversation with your parents.

• First job. I worked an overnight 12-hour shift at Green Giant in Glencoe for two weeks... then took a job at Kmart (sporting goods) in Hutchinson.

• Buying your first car. Mine was a light blue 1982 Pontiac J-2000 (similar to a Sunbird). I owned it for about a year.

• First time you just got in the car and drove wherever you wanted after getting your license. I made the best of my first big day of independence... I went to Taco John’s.

• First girlfriend. Her name was Robin... we both worked at Kmart.

• Saying goodbye to your parents when they dropped you off at college.

• Meeting your college roommate. My college roommate was on drugs and dropped out in the first three months.

• Attending your first college class.

• The first night living in the real world. For me this was in an apartment building called “The Ogdahl Building.”

• The first day at your first “real job.” For me, this was the Pope County Tribune in Glenwood.

• Opening your first paycheck

• That moment where you realized that you could really do the job your were hired to do. This probably happened about 3-4 months into it.

• That moment when you feel like you have found your career. This happened after about a year or so.

• The day you met your wife. This happened in the Odgahl apartment building. She lived across the hall from me.

First date with your future wife. It was a nice little restaurant near Alexandria. I forgot my wallet.... oops!

• Walking into your first home you purchased with your spouse.

• The first time you went out to eat with your parents and picked up the tab.

• The moment when you and your wife look at a positive reading on a pregnancy test.

• The first time you saw your baby in an ultrasound.

• The moment you put your babies in carseats and took them home. For our first child, the emotions were a bunch of nervousness with a hint of panic.

• The first time your kids call you “daddy.”

• Making your final college loan payment.

• The first time you buy a drink and weren’t carded. Since I started balding in my 20s, this happened earlier than most.

• The first time you heard a song from your childhood on the “oldies channel.” This happened when I was about 35. It was a Def Leppard song.

• Attending a family funeral for the last person in a generation.

• Being mistaken for someone who is 20 years old. This has happened a few times now. I have to admit... not really a day brightener.


Life is full of unique moments that shape our lives. For many of our readers, there are more moments that aren’t on my list. I just haven’t gotten there yet. These could include moments like attending your child’s wedding, meeting your grandchild for the first time, spending the first day of retirement, getting your first Social Security check, etc. It won’t be long until these happen for me, too.


My kids are smack dab in the middle of their “awkward years” of life... also referred to as the “wonder years.” These years were some of the most impactful and impressionable times of my life... and I would suspect many people would say the same. My boys are about 1/4 of the way through this list and they have some big ones coming up. I’m looking forward to these moments and I’m thrilled to have a front row seat to watch them happen.

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