A Parenting Invitation

Fellow parent,

Let’s not compete for martyrdom by comparing the hours of sleep we’ve missed.

Instead, let’s lift each other up with loving commiseration over the hard work we each do.

Let’s not insinuate that some parents are lucky to have children who sleep well, eat well, behave…

Instead, let’s acknowledge that it is hard work and intention, not luck, that bring success.

Let’s not be bothered by people who dismiss our concerns as insignificant and tell us that parenting only gets harder.

We need to support each other through the tough times right now.  Let’s remind each other that the rewards of childrearing make the drudgery worthwhile.

Let’s withhold judgment of each other’s parenting and avoid giving advice on how to do it better.

Instead, let’s respect that we’re each doing the best that we can and accept that our parenting styles differ.

Let’s not boast about our children under the guise of ‘humble-bragging.’  The insinuation of superiority is obvious and insulting.

Instead, let’s acknowledge the greatness in every child and celebrate their imperfections.

Let’s not talk about how our children make us crazy.

Instead, let’s tell each other how we’ve cried from disappointment in our own parenting behavior, and together, let’s figure out a way to do it better.

Let’s not ever pretend that we’ve got it all together.

Let’s be honest and expose our vulnerability so that we might learn to accept ourselves, and each other, more authentically.

Let’s not play that broken record called “I have no time to myself”.

Let’s choose to sing about how we had the courage to say ‘no’ to the ones we care for, in order to care for ourselves.

Let’s not line our parenting path with comparison and criticism.  It’s not a competition.

Let’s just be parents, traveling side by side, cheering each other on.

Spectating Is A Sport

Spectating is a sport that requires training. I know this because I didn’t always do it well.

There was that first marathon of Tim’s when I towed three kids under age 7 through an unfamiliar city on foot and public transportation. After a sleepless pre-race night of anxiety and hours of effort on race day, we failed to catch even a glimpse of Daddy. I don’t exaggerate when I tell you that I suffered a nervous breakdown as a result. The event, for me, was an epic failure.

Tim is now a triathlete. An Ironman, actually, which makes me an Ironwife for supporting him. No joke. Being married to an extreme athlete is Work!  In high season, it’s common to go days without seeing husband, which leaves a whole lot of his chores to be done by those left behind.  In addition, there are special pre-race meals to cook, posters to color, cow bells to buy, and for the really big race, custom t-shirts to design for Team Tim.

This year, When Principessa (teen daughter) decided that she, too, would like to be a triathlete, I didn’t blink an eye.  I am a seasoned spectathlete after all.  Knowing that she would need an extra boost for her first race, I recruited neighbors and friends to line the course.  And unbeknownst to me, Principessa’s dear friends plotted their own support tactics, ensuring that she met cheering voices at multiple points.

At the end of the day, Principessa gathered her personalized posters and congratulatory cards, and reflected on the monumental event. With teary eyes that grasped the magnitude of her accomplishment, she recounted her journey.

Principessa was elated, she said, not just from her physical triumph, but also because of the love that was showered upon her. It turns out that not one other athlete had a support poster.  Not one other athlete had a visible team along the way.  A wistful fellow racer was overheard saying, “I wish I was Principessa.” To which she remarked, “I feel so special.”  Mission accomplished.

I’ve been asked on several occasions why I don’t do triathlons. Hmm.  Let me think.  I’m pretty sure I have a reason or two or a hundred.  One indelicate triathlete acquaintance actually asked, “So, do you do anything?”  Fighting the urge to punch him in the face, I mumbled something snarky about saving the world. I mean, really, the question didn’t deserve a serious answer.

If Mr. Athlete had formed the question in a more delicate manner, I might have explained that I actually enjoy being on the sidelines and that I take my role as Number One Fan seriously.  As Will Rogers said, “We can’t all be heroes because someone has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.”

As long as I’m around, you can be sure there will be someone on the curb.  I enjoy supporting not just my own loved ones but all who have the courage to step onto the course.  Because trying is worth celebrating. And celebrating others is what I do.

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