It’s Lauren Date’s birthday!

“BabyDate” has been a part of my life for 26 years now — even longer if you count the rolling around and kicking for a while before that.

It’s been 8 years since she’s lived here – 3 in Madison, 1 in Spain and now 4 in Chicago. Everybody talks about how fast time flies by, but I have to be honest — sometimes it works both ways. When she does come back to Minneapolis for a few days, it’s now as a visitor, and it sometimes seems like a long time since she was a kid.

Memories are only fragments. And they fade, they change. I want them to be complete. I want to be able to conjure up whole scenes, but quite often all I have are little bits and pieces. I want to put her on my shoulders again and hear her giggle when we play “where’s baby bear?”

The photos help. Sometimes I find one I haven’t seen for awhile I can actually revive a forgotten memory. I love looking at pictures of Lauren when she was a kid. If you’ve only known her as an adult, you only know part who she is.

The photos are triggers. A photo can be a “play” button to a mental video of a certain day. This next one, for instance. Lauren’s always liked baseball for some reason. I love this one where’s she’s got catcher’s gear on. When I think of her love for the Minnesota Twins today, I think of this picture and this kid and this day. It’s an ordinary picture of an ordinary ballgame at Lynnhurst Park, but it’s much more than that now.

When does a person move out of childhood? Of course, it’s not a certain day or even year. But there’s one photograph that captures Lauren’s transformation in my mind’s eye. I’m not even sure how old she was in this one, but for me it’s the earliest one that shows her the way she looks now. I like the fake contemplative look and imagine her breaking into a laugh a second later.

It’s funny how you can never imagine letting go of your kids when they’re little. Then all of a sudden it’s been 8 years since you did have to let go — that’s the cruel paradox of the passage of time. It passes both quickly and slowly, and as a parent, it’s never in your favor.

She doesn’t like it when I post picture of her as an adult, but here’s one anyway — collapsed on the ground after completing the Twin Cities Marathon last October.

Lauren has grown into an amazing young woman. She’s made her way in the big city for 4 years now. When I say I’m proud of who she’s become, I don’t mean to imply that I think I had a lot to do with it (those kudos go to her mother). Lauren has become who she is mainly because of her own thoughtfulness, curiosity, hard work, sense of humor and moral integrity.

Lauren was a great kid and now when I see her or talk with her, I feel so fortunate.

Happy birthday Lauren! I love you.

See you in a few weeks at Target Field. Go Twins!

(To see a bunch more photos of Lauren, you can time-travel back a year by clicking HERE for last year’s birthday)

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