The race starts out with a bang! We are prepped and ready. Out of the start gate, the kids are off. They have their first day of school outfits, fresh haircuts, new lunch boxes and backpacks. They are organized and so are we as parents. We have read through the mounds of handouts, filled out endless forms, signed all of the slips, stood in the lines at registration and orientation, and written umpteen checks. We have written and highlighted on our calendars, made lists and placed sticky notes for all the reminders. We have signed up for the sports, the after-school activities and the multiple other enrichments. We have enrolled in the email blasts and sign-up genius lists. We have signed the waivers and the emergency cards, all 3 copies, per kid. We have it covered. Our houses are clean, the groceries are stocked and we even got a car wash. It feels good to be ready and we blast out of the start gate with gusto. The race is on.
Then as we are all sprinting through the first few laps we decide we can settle into a moderate jog. We fall into a pattern. We keep up but we slow our breathing and find a comfortable rhythm. The kids get used to waking early and going to bed on time. We volunteer and donate and bake and carpool. It becomes surprisingly easy. The pace is set and it remains there for many, many, miles and months.
Then we round the bend directly slamming into the holiday season. Things get rough in the new terrain. We have to run uphill, through very rocky twists and turns for almost three months. It's stressful but we push through it with all our power. It takes a toll, physically and mentally and we suffer a bit of a set back in the race. But then, just when we think we cannot pull ahead, Spring arrives. Like a cool drink of water, we sip it in. The sun reappears and we peel the layers of clothing just to feel it on our skin. We get our second wind and our momentum suddenly picks up again. The kids feel invigorated and distracted and begin to lose focus of the finish line. They start becoming forgetful. They lose their belongings constantly and start slipping on their assignments. The finish line is too close and they just can't remain motivated. Parents are constantly bringing up the slack, running forgotten lunches to school, administering cold meds for those coughs that have lasted for months, gathering sports equipment that was left on the field, and trying to remember that one last mandatory school trip meeting. We struggle to stay on top of it, the sign-ups and birthday invitations come at us from all directions and the lists and sticky notes seem to swallow us whole. Not to mention the ever intrusive events; last minute meetings with clients, trips to the E.R., weddings, and funerals. Our houses are dirty, messy, and unorganized, and our cars haven't seen a wash since November. But somehow we manage to squeak by without feeling like utter failures as parents, friends, sons and daughters, and spouses.
As we close in on the final lap, we begin to care less about finishing first. We know will just be happy to drag our tired, battered bodies across the line. At this point there is no shame in crawling. We see and feel the colors of Spring splashing across our chests like the hues of a color run, and all we want is to bask in the glow of soon-to-be Summer. We are done with rushing and impossible schedules. Done with the e-blasts, permission slips, appointments, play dates and lost and founds. And done with the race. The air is filled with renewed joy and an eagerness to just be. We are all just be proud of entering the marathon of all marathons, and in the end, whether we drag or dash over that line, we are all winners.