I had a business trip this week and someone left a Sports Illustrated in the seat pocket from the previous flight which included this amazing story of Keanon Lowe whose post-playing career appeared to be going nowhere. Turns out he was right where he was supposed to be.
It’s certainly not a direct comparison to Lowe, but I do often find myself lost and befuddled in the thicket of parenting. I thought it might get easier when they could talk or wipe their own butts or take a shower. Nope. Things only get harder, often in more subtle and insidious ways.
I feel stressed, overwhelmed, cranky and lost and that’s just trying to figure out the weekly meal schedule never mind navigating the social norms of fifth grade girls. My kids make me mad and make me melt thirty-six times a days but ultimately that is just being a parent. You gotta embrace both them and the moment no matter how challenging.
The two days of travel and the break from active parenting did offer some perspective. None of us really have any idea what life has in store for us even as it breaks our hearts or keeps kicking us when we are down. We gotta remember that we are not lost, we are exactly where we are supposed to be. Not by chance or providence but because by our actions and our choices we make it where we are supposed to be. Parent on, people!
Sorry, I’m back this week and Michelle has returned to her frantic weekend to-do lists but she’s promised to return and post more in the future to give you a break from my Dad jokes and baking stories.
Last weekend I was away on Friday and Saturday running an overnight relay race with friends. On one hand that sounds rather selfish, abdicating your responsibilities and literally running off with your friends. But I think it also sets an example.
There is just about no single thing that comes close to exercise in terms of universal benefits. We need exercise and by showing your kids how to exercise you are going to improve and extend not only your own equality of life, but you are going to help theirs, as well. Be in shape and be healthy. That’s perhaps one of the simpler things in parenting.
When the girls get sick, I get stressed. I will lie in bed and hear one of the girls coughing down the hall and I wonder why we can’t just have a simple, quiet night. Why do I always have to end the day worrying about fevers, coughs, math facts, reading comprehension, screen time, or how to navigate some new, twisted social scenario I never pondered as a kid.
The fact is that we have a lot of quiet nights. They just pile up and slip by unnoticed while Dash warms my feet and I fall asleep reading a book. This past week was a whole string of perfectly banal and quiet days. Math facts were tossed off. Vocab tests were aced. The brassy sound of Hot Cross Buns filled the air. The worst thing that happened was Ally being convinced, despite ample contrary evidence, that the number three really should be written backwards.
Too often I can get lost in the darker corners of the parenting maze. This week I’m celebrating mediocrity. Without the quiet, ordinary weeks, you can’t have the extraordinary ones.
Cecilia and Ally have spent many weekend mornings cheering me, or Michelle, on at various finishing lines. They have gone to the Boston Marathon almost every year they’ve been alive. They have been unofficial timers and participants at Thursday track workouts. They are quite used to me referring to Desi, Shalane, and Meb as if they are my personal friends. They are still young enough to think that most other parents get up and run in the dark.
So they really didn’t bat an eye as I’ve been enthusiastically talking about my “friend” Eluid Kipchoge after he destroyed the marathon world record two weeks ago. I was reminded in this article just why he remains a good role model for the girls and how many running lessons translate to good parenting lessons, too:
Overcome challenges – do not let that tricky math problem get the best of you
Keep calm and carry on – no one plays a new piano song right the first time, frustration isn’t going to help anyone
Planning is key – flash cards, piano, reading: a well-documented routine keeps everyone (i.e., Dad) happy
Be humble – even if you do get on the podium, Dad is still making dinner and walking the dog
Maybe one day the girls will grow up to write a musical about runners!
We start Saturday where we always start…..
Sometimes you see yourself in your kids in the oddest ways. September brings school, soccer, hurricane season and, of course, the first school-borne viruses and colds. We woke up (early) Thursday morning to that dreaded barking seal cough echoing down the hallway. Even with the immunity armor of five years of day care, Ally still picked up a bug in her first few weeks of kindergarten. I suppose I should be relived it wasn’t measles or scarlet fever.
There’s a clear dichotomy in our family in how we respond to illnesses. Michelle flat out refuses to acknowledge she is sick. She has to collapse at 2 a.m. in the bathroom or be admitted to the ER before she might consider taking an aspirin. Being sick just doesn’t fit into her plans. Cecilia is much the same. Even if you witness her sneezing, she will adamantly refuse to admit she actually did. She’s only missed 3 days of school total so far.
I, on the other hand, treat any sniffle or throat tickle like a pending doomsday scenario. I start guzzling herbal tea and green smoothies by the quart as if I can drown the germs in hippie goodness and save myself. I’ll wrap myself in warm baths and comfy sweatpants. I’ll seriously consider going to bed by 4:30 if it will help me get better faster.
Allison takes after her Dad. She believes any dose of medicine is all the passkey to endless hours on the couch binging on Netflix, Saltines and popsicles. Who am I to disagree?
I was ready for some bourbon in my coffee before kick-off. The honeymoon period was clearly over during my second week as a Pre-K soccer coach. The excitement and novelty of this strange game that held them transfixed during week one was not going to cut it for week two. Allison was still fired up and plowed through quite a few boys and girls to get a goal, but at least half of the other team clearly had better places to be on a gray Saturday morning.
Clearly, I’m going to have to come up with some new tricks for these last four weeks or these kids are going to use their little cleated feet to kick me to the curb. God bless teachers for dealing with these little monsters 180 days a year.
One day each fall the kids run feral in the woods, crisp spirits bubble freely like they are running from a mountain stream, food appears as if from a faerie’s spell and music invites everyone to grab a friend and dance as if you actually know how to box step.
It’s not a dream. It’s one of my favorite days of the year out in the ‘burbs. It’s Oktoberfest at the local German club.
You can’t fight the polka. Best to imbibe and join in.