So you know those participation medals that kids receive? I’m not a fan. I have many reasons but, well, that’s a blog post all on its own. You know who I DO think deserves a plethora of participation medals??? MOMS. Well, to be fair, dads definitely deserve participations medals, too, but since the four people who read my blog posts are probably moms, I’m going to focus on you. With the Olympics starting last weekend and our FIT4MOM GR challenge that we have going on during the Olympics, my mind started thinking about how parenting can be compared to basically anything, including the Olympics.
Think about it. What is the Olympics? It’s many things but in an extremely simplified nutshell, it’s a bunch of different events where a bunch of people show up to hopefully show that they are the best. That’s certainly not the most eloquent explanation I have ever written but quite simplified, yes? Not seeing the connection yet? I’m getting there, no worries.
There is so much discussion about comparison between women, mothers, parents. I think that thanks to the internet and blogs and social media and all of these “wonderful” advances in technology, we deal with these emotions at a much more intense level than our own mothers did. We view others’ motherhood journeys through pictures, stories, comments, shared blog posts, memes, etc. But what are we actually viewing? We are viewing whatever life this person wants to share with us. We compare our behind-the-scenes with everyone else’s highlight reels. (Love that quote by Steven Furtick.) Parenting requires us to wear many hats and, unlike the Olympics, we do NOT need to strive to be better than others at these different tasks. We should definitely strive to be the best “us” but most of the time, the best “us” will look different than the best “them”. The fantastic thing about that is it’s totally ok. I was having drinks with my close friends last week and throughout our time together, I was marveling at how we each go about parenting a bit differently but we are all wonderful mothers. How cool is that? We can all learn so much from one another. All of the comparisons and fear mongering that we are confronted with--- cloth or disposable, organic or not, breastfeeding or formula, minivans or SUV, cosleeping or not, etc. etc. etc. etc. In the end, we are all making the decisions for ourselves, our children, and our families that we believe are best.
So let’s get to the good part---handing out the participating medals to you all.
Here’s your participation medal for feeding your kids. Those little rascals have the audacity to want food multiple times a day every.single.day. The nerve. So, GO YOU for finding something for them to eat. (I gave my kids Wendy’s chicken nuggets and a donut for supper last weekend and have no shame.)
Here’s your participation medal for taking care of your home, whether you used homemade, essential oil-filled cleaners or whatever cleaning product that was on sale at Meijer (picture me raising my hand for that one). I will be the first to admit that my home is not organized and it is certainly an area of my life that I’m constantly trying to find better ways to create more order. That said, I also have gotten better at not feeling guilt or shame about the state of my home. Prior to having children, even when my oldest was very young, I would spend so much time cleaning my house if I knew someone was coming over. I remember the day that I was reading a book by one of my favorite authors, Shauna Niequist, and she was discussing the importance in not living a life that you want people to be impressed by but instead inviting people into your mess (including your house). Yes, I like a clean house and I do my best but I have come to the conclusion that taking care of all my paper piles and vacuuming up all the dog hair (IMPOSSIBLE TASK) when I know someone is coming over is just not a priority for me. I know that for some people, keeping your home very orderly is a priority, but for me personally, it’s something I have made a choice to not stress out about.
Here’s your participation medal for working today, whether that involves donning non-yoga pants and heading to an office building or staying home full time with your kids or doing a combination of both. Whatever you did today matters. It may not feel like it sometimes but it does.
Here’s your participation medal for getting out of bed today. Some of you may be morning people and the morning hours are energizing to you. Some of you, like me, may not love mornings but once you’re actually out of bed, you feel fairly good about life. Some of you may just simply not like mornings. And some of you may just need to hear that the basic act of getting out of bed today was a big deal. We are all dealing with our own battles and sometimes those battles affect our motivation and desire to participate in our day to day life. So perhaps you stayed home with the kids today, in your pajamas, watched “Daniel Tiger”, and ate Goldfish. That’s just fine. Because guess what? You made the choice to get out of bed this morning, even if you didn’t want to, and sometimes that is enough. I get it. There was a stretch of time in college where just getting out of a bed was hard for me. I called my dad many mornings just to hear a kind voice telling me that I was loved and cared for and that there was so much good that could come from that day if I just pushed beyond the hard and focused on the good. You got this!
Here are a handful (or two handfuls…) of participation medals for all of the tasks that we do each day/week/month/year---diaper changes, potty training, taking our kids to school and appointments, working out, drinking coffee (and wine), grocery shopping, laundry, yard work. We are the ultimate Olympic athletes. In fact, we participate in all the events in the summer AND winter Olympics. Beat that, Michael Phelps. But, like I said before, the most important difference between parenting and the Olympics is that we are not competing against other parents. We should only be competing against ourselves, desiring to learn from what we have done before and wanting to improve as a parent, spouse, friend, sister, daughter, and individual.
As you go about your daily tasks today, remind yourself that what matters is that you are trying. I don’t excel in all areas of life so I’m certainly not going to excel in all areas of parenting. Something I can excel in, though, is letting my children know how loved they are. I do this through my words and my actions and at the end of the day, loving our children well is the ultimate parenting goal, isn’t it?
So here’s your GOLD medal for loving your children well, no matter how similar or different our paths look. GO YOU!