Thursday, March 29

Parenting is a Marathon, not a Series of Sprints

I haven't written in quite some time.  Today, I just wanted to take a chance to sit down and pour out some things I've been thinking about (and need to remember in the future).

It's so much easier to "run" life like a sprint.

Going from one new idea to another, well, that compliments my ADD perfectly!  Looking at something and saying, "that would be great right now"...that's how I operate, but it's not always best.  Some of my "sprint" ideas turn out pretty well...for instance I decided to do the Bible in 90 Days program...while it is definitely taking me longer than 90 days I did just go for it and I've done much better than I normally do with reading plans like this!

However, sprinting encourages me to be nearsighted and not to pay attention to what the real finish line looks like.  Most recently this has been with regards to parenting.

***For the record, if I describe a way you are parenting as something that doesn't work for my "marathon" intentions, please don't think I dislike what you are doing.  Not every situation or choice is good for all kids or all families.  I have to do what is best for MY kids and MY family.  No judgement toward your decisions is implied.***

Parenting is far more difficult than you can ever fathom before you become a least that's been my experience.  It's not that it's tough changing diapers, making sure they get fed, playing with your kids, etc.   (well, sometimes it is).  But being responsible for them...well that's the toughie for me!  Not just responsible that they are still breathing at the end of the day, keep all their teeth, and don't break too many bones...but responsible for the kind of adult they turn out to be.  Responsible for whether or not they turn out to be responsible, productive citizens.  Yikes!  That's enough to make me want to run in the other direction most days.

Lots of things come up that sound like great experiences or opportunities...
YMCA youth soccer starts at age 3...Carter will be 3 in August.
Preschool starts at age 4 and can be done 1/2 days every day, two days a week, at home, or not at all.
Language immersion schools, charter schools, moving to better public school districts, homeschooling, unschooling...
Is your head spinning like mine?  It's so easy for me to think about the benefits these can offer to my child(ren).

Wow...they could be potty trained already!  Yep I know a lady who's potty training an 11 month old yet my 1 and 2 year olds are no where near that.

They could be fluent in two languages...awesome!  Sign me up!

They could get to run after a ball with no clue they are actually playing a game let alone a sport...sounds so cute and fun!

They should know all their letters before they start school, be able to read chapter books by 1st grade, AND know how to tie their shoes!  Why don't we start them younger than 4! Wait...isn't that the point of kindergarten?

How many science projects should my child do in kindergarten?  Did I even DO science in kindergarten?!?!?

These are all thoughts that have swirled around in my head over the last few months.  It's overwhelming, to say the least.  But to put it all in perspective I have to remember that my children's lives aren't about ANY of this!  It's not about who can sing their ABC's first, read the youngest, speak the most languages, or be a soccer star at 4.  It's about the end result...the adults they grow up to be.  It's about being conscious of the character traits I'm instilling in them now, the ones I will continue to work on as they understand more, and the entirety of their raising.  That's what matters.  Not how many new toys they have, clubs they join, or sports they play now.  Not how many classic novels they read before 3rd grade.

The marathon takes more training, more patience, more stamina.  It takes all of my heart, brain, and so much grace from God.  It takes me putting aside what I *think* my kids should be doing right now...because that's usually based on what others are telling me they should do or what I see other kids doing.  I need to focus on what they *need* in the long term.  My kids, in my opinion, need to see their parents in love, to see their parents worshiping God and studying His word, to learn what God wants for all of us.  And they need some more practical things like to know how to handle money (and not just how to spend it like it's going out of style), to be gracious to others, to show compassion, to serve, to do basic math, to enjoy reading, and, yes, to tie their shoes (velcro seems hard to come by as an adult).

The marathon is the difficult path to choose.  The marathon requires patience--something many are in short supply of, including myself.  The marathon requires commitment and taking time to see where the finish line really is and then to try to figure out the best way to move toward it.  The sprint isn't easy, by any means, but it's over quickly.  And then on to another, and another, and another.  The marathon isn't short bursts of the next-best-thing, it's a prolonged sense of what is truly important.

And...this is seems to be slightly different for each and every child and family.  Your marathon will look different than mine.  Henry's might look different than Carter's.  But it's still important to try and figure out what it looks like and then, the hard part, how to learn to be content with the path you've chosen.