I enjoy running.
Maybe I need to clarify. I enjoy running when the weather is pleasant and I can be outside on a beautiful sunny afternoon. It is SO hard for me to run in the winter. I don’t like to be outside in the dark; I’m not a big fan of the cold. I’ll go to the gym – though certainly not as often as I should. I find running on a track tedious. And it is far too easy to convince myself to slow the treadmill down and head home early. You can’t do that when you run outside. If you’ve ran 2 miles from home you have to turn around and run back! No quitting early!!
On a recent cold Sunday afternoon I reluctantly ran on the track at the gym; around and around in the same circle! The gym has a track on the second floor which surrounds basketball courts below. So, the perk of running on a Sunday afternoon in the winter is that there are youth basketball games to entertain me – even if that means I also have to smell popcorn from the concession stand the entire time.
So, I’ve set the scene.
As I ran on this particular Sunday, I found myself watching the moms in the crowd. Some were playing on their phones, others trying to wrangle younger children there to “watch” the game, and still others were sitting quietly watching the game and snacking on this popcorn I kept smelling.
I kept thinking to myself – that will be me in about 8 years. What kind of mom will I be then? How exactly do I learn how to interact with my child in junior high or high school??
Sometimes I’ll watch new moms in action and try to remember what it was like to learn for the very first time how to be a parent for this tiny newborn baby. How did I know what to do? Did I make the right parenting choices? Even now, only a short 6 years later, it is impossible to remember.
Somehow we (my husband and I together) figured it out and made it through the last 6 ½ years.
I’m sure some of those same moms watching their 8th grader play basketball will watch me from afar with my toddler and barely remember what it was like to parent a fiesty 2-year-old. Yet somehow they – like me – made parenting choices and figured it out as the years went by.
So many different stages as we raise these kids – and each child is so unique! Every age, every family, every child will require a different parenting approach!
This can become daunting; scary even! As I’m thinking all of this through, I wonder if I can plan out perfectly how we can parent our two kids over the next 15 years. All the while I’m still running – around and around the track. The adrenaline is pumping now, both from the exercise AND from the mild panic setting in as I consider that I will inevitably screw up one or both of my kids!
But I am realistic. I know I cannot plan all of the parenting choices we’ll make as our kids grow up. But there are a few things that I want to be sure we do regardless of how old my kids are…
- I will communicate to my kids, and in turn my children communicate to me that we love each other – verbally and through our actions!
- We will give each other hugs; the genuine “I am happy to see you” hugs – not the “let’s get this over with so I can run to my friends and no longer be embarrassed” hugs.
- We will always have open and honest communication about faith and our relationship with God.
That third one is not just for them, but for me, too. I learn so much about my own faith through conversation and interaction with my kids – as I hope my last 39 weekly posts have shown!
There are a lot of unknowns about the parenting choices we’ll need to make in the years ahead. I am hopeful it will be easier for these decisions to fall into place as long as the three things I note above – essentially love and faith – stay important for me as a mom.
And who knows. Someday in the future I just might be watching my 8th grader play basketball (or soccer or baseball), and I’ll think of this moment. I will try to remember the many parenting decisions we made along the way and potentially panic as I consider the decisions left to be made. But as long as love and faith are still priority in our family, we’ll be just fine.