It’s About Who’s Waiting For Us in the End.

Come with me back to a high school track meet. It happened two weeks ago. I sat in the stands watching my teenage daughter and hundreds of other high-schoolers, all vying for their own personal records, hoping to beat out all the other competitors. Unlike the athletes, I, however, had a completely opposing mantra for myself. “Let it go, Alice.” “Let it go.” The Sunday before, my track-star daughter, my husband, and I had a heart-to-heart. Come to find out, I have always put undue pressure on the poor girl in all areas of her life, but especially when it comes to sports and grades. Yeah, I’m not proud. What can I say? She’s my firstborn? That doesn’t really cut it. You’ll be relieved to know that I am working on it. I have specific goals, one of which is not being result-obsessed.

So, my daughter had just run her 100m. Unlike her past track experiences, she’s not typically in the Top 3 this year. She’s running at the middle of the pack. Thus the mantra. “Let it go, Alice.” I was pep-talking myself, “This is about your daughter, not about you. Abigail is having fun. Abigail is getting exercise. Just because you want her to be in first place, it doesn’t mean that is where she needs to be. Be happy. Love your girl. Let it go.”

Then an amazing thing happened.

the end

It was the boy’s mile. The mile takes forever. As my thoughts were repeating in circles, I haphazardly watched the male athletes going round and around. I watched while I wrestled with my only baby boy and started imagining his future. I wondered to myself if I could master being a better mother by the time he takes to the track. I hoped I would never put too much pressure on him, too. I questioned whether or not he will even be an athlete and silently wished I will be able to embrace whatever it is he decides to love, even if he only loves it with mediocrity.

The race was over….or so I thought. My mind moved on. Then, right in front of me, I saw some super energetic young man rally his whole school to their feet. He hooted, hollered, jumped, cajoled, begged, and demanded full participation. I silently hoped, “Oh, I don’t wish that for Max. Please let him be an athlete, instead of a cheerleader.” Stay with me. My mind was abruptly changed.

It so happened that there was one runner left. He was way behind the pack. He belonged to this crazy make-shift athlete turned cheerleader’s school. This runner was a runt. He was slow. He was in last place. Yet. Yet, as he slowly made his way to the finish line in front of the crowd, his school was cheering for him like he was an Olympic gold medalist. All because of the efforts of his crazy encouraging teammate (that he hadn’t even seen rally the crowd) his stride quickened. His chin lifted up in pride. There was a wide smile on his face. The finish of this race is one he will never forget. Neither will I.

I hid my face in shame for being such a proud person. And because I was bawling my eyes out. I whispered to Max, “You don’t have to be an athlete, but please be a make-shift cheerleader wherever you go.”

Then I ran over to tell Abigail that she did awesome in that 100m.

The following Sunday, while I was driving to church, this song came on the radio. It took me hours to find it but it was worth every search effort.


It’s not about how fast we get there, it’s about who’s waiting for us in the end.


Close Enough Birthdays


I recently got a kick
out of the blog post
17 Pinterest Fails.

Go over and check out the hilarious photos
of how things appear on Pinterest
and how they look when other
“close enough” moms attempt them.
So funny.

I believe the “close enough” principle is one thing that helps me to have happiness in this crazy modern world we call motherhood where moms seem to fight til death outdoing one another.

Today we had a birthday party for Bella. It was most definitely a “close enough” party. In fact all the parties that we throw (which are only every four years since I hate it so much) are just “close enough”. Except that one we had for my oldest Abigail when she was 7 – that party with 50 kids was AMAZING!

I used to have shame in the fact that throwing a birthday party was so painful for me, but as I’ve gotten older, I’ve stripped myself from the shame. It is what it is. So now instead of cute scrap-booked party tags, the kids have to be happy with anything they can make with computer paper and a sharpie. I checked out of the party competition with other moms and I am working on checking out of all the areas of intense mom competition.

Parties are a lot of unnecessary work for a mom and I am tired. I am obviously capable of a great party: fifty cellophane bags full of beach themed trinkets, a handmade oversized beach scene cake, a firepit, slipnslide, pool, and water games were all involved at Abigail’s award winning shin-dig years ago. One tiny post-party situation is the only thing that keeps me from throwing more parties. After the party when all the kids from all over the world went home, I sat on the couch and couldn’t move for two weeks. I decided that being able to cook my kids dinner was probably more important than party-throwing, and I neatly stashed that fact away in my go-to mom file for future reference.

Maybe all moms should throw a party that colossal just once so that they will know that they can, then they will also know why they will choose not to throw parties anymore? Or maybe they can read this and learn from me? Let it go moms. Have a nice family dinner and sing a song while your kid blows out the candles. When your kid gets invited to the over-the-top party and whines on the way home that his birthday is so lame, kindly remind him that you don’t do that because you figure he needs a mother not in the loony bin more than a bounce house. You might be surprised at how well he will take it. And the bigger surprise is that you will teach your kids that it’s o.k. not to compete.

My kids only get a party every 4 years and they are limited with a budget of $100 towards presents and/or party. (It works really well if you choose certain ages like 4,8,12, and 16…that way when you have multiple children you may luck out and only have to do one party per year.) Yes that $100 is our manipulative effort to forgo the parties all together. It’s amazing how much our kids have learned about their own greediness with this simple rule. When one starts spending birthday money on other people and unnecessary trinkets, it quickly helps one recognize their real friends and needs over wants. Also a good lesson for adults: you don’t have as many close friends as you think AND you really should use most of your gift money to get what you need over what you want.

Or maybe you should just throw one party for their whole childhood and call it close enough? O.k. o.k. that might be cheating.