At Once I Understood

I remember standing on the grassy football field the night of my graduation. Cords and medals hung around my neck; a cap that belonged to another student before the celebratory toss now rested atop my head, extra fluffy thanks to the humidity. My boyfriend found me on the field and put his arms around me saying how proud he was of me. And I clearly remember thinking, “Why?”

Of course I said, “Thank you,” or gave a grateful smile as I had to my parents when they expressed similar sentiments all during the time surrounding my high school graduation, but I didn’t get it. What was the big deal? I graduated high school. I did what I was supposed to do. Didn’t almost everyone?

It wasn’t like the time I qualified for Nationals. Only a small percentage of people can call themselves gymnasts, and an even smaller percentage get to stand on the podium as one of the top seven girls who qualified to represent her region. I remember the feeling; my cheeks were stretched tight into a smile that I couldn’t stop had I wanted to.

But I didn’t want to stop. I savored every minute of that night. I laughed with my teammates, giddy over what some of us achieved. We posed for pictures, and when my parents said they were proud of me, I understood. I was proud of me, too.

I had worked hard for that moment, years of training in the gym and years of coming oh-so-close, missing the cut-off by a tenth of a point. Going to Nationals wasn’t a guarantee for anyone, but I was getting my chance.

Standing on that football field didn’t feel the same.

Of course, I wasn’t looking through the eyes of a parent.

 

I didn’t understand that what came naturally for me wasn’t necessarily easy for everyone else.

 

 

I didn’t understand that it wasn’t necessarily the outcome that made my parents proud but the hard work, determination, and focus along the way.

 

 

And I didn’t understand that they weren’t proud because of what I could do but proud because of who I had become.

I didn’t understand then, but now I’ve sat in the bleachers of a T-ball game between five and six years olds. I’ve tensed every muscle as I nervously looked at the action on the field. I’ve cheered my heart out and had pride fill my chest. I’ve felt my cheeks stretch tight as a smile took over my face. And I recalled the giddiness of that teenage girl who just qualified for Nationals.

No, I didn’t understand what the big deal was when I stood on the football field, but when I watched my son take his own position on the field, it all became clear. And at once I understood.

When was a moment when you felt most proud?

Three Weeks

I haven’t written a post in three weeks. Not since I first began blogging when I would write here and there have I gone so long without putting my fingers to the keys. Matt went out of town on business a few days each week for the last three weeks in a row, and I had decided before he left that I was going to give myself a little grace and mercy when it came to writing. Had I known how much grace and mercy I would end up giving, I would’ve scheduled some posts from the archives ahead of time!

Unfortunately, Matt’s trips came at an inopportune time for me–days filled with commitments at the kids’ schools, previously made appointments, a birthday party to plan, and the like. Nonetheless, we survived. I was very proud of myself for not losing my temper with the kids or having the feeling that I wanted to send them off into the woods to fend for themselves. Actually, that last statement was slightly disingenuous–apparently, three weeks is my breaking point–but I did much better than I thought possible.

The days went quickly except the last few, but isn’t that always the way? A pregnancy can go quickly until the last month, the last few days before Christmas for kids drag on, and vacation just can’t get here fast enough. I digress, though. I was actually amazed because, for most of the three weeks, I spent my time rushing from here to there, staying up much later than I planned, always feeling behind; yet for all the hustle and bustle, as each week passed, I could hardly remember what happened the days before.

That fact scares me a little. I pack my days full, and when it’s all said and done, I have to evaluate for what am I so tired? I can’t even remember. I rush rush rush, and rushing starts to become the normal way of living, even during times that I want to breathe in and savor the delicious aroma, taste the goodness of it all.

 

Of course, this dilemma comes back to priorities. Priorities can present a challenge for a perfectionist, however. When everything should be done perfectly, choosing between the tasks becomes difficult. Oh, I’ve figured out how to prioritize some things–spending time with the kids trumps cleaning the shower. In fact, my new standard for cleaning my bathroom is that I need to scrub when I actually get dirty by taking a shower. However, I find prioritizing other tasks a little more difficult. A day to catch up on housework or using the couple of hours the kids are at preschool to write? Those few hours volunteering at school or getting in a good workout? Sending out e-mails to my small group, or finally finishing the neighborhood directory?

Those precious moments I have alone actually become stressful as I try to fit in just one more task before I get the kids. Add a husband out of town to the mix, and my head starts to spin a little.

I know my struggle isn’t new to anyone, and I know there’s a solution right before my eyes–I just can’t always see it. But I also know that I don’t want to spend so much time running that I forget why I was running. Yes, some of those tasks can be forgotten, but others, well, they’re just too important to miss.

And speaking of missing things, I desperately miss all of my friends whom I have met through this blog. I look forward to ‘chatting’ again, and I do hope to figure out my priorities so that I can spend time visiting all of you, as well.