I have this image in my mind of each of my girls as they get older. It’s less about what they do, and more about who they are…their character. We start each day by reminding them that you are a leader, and leaders make good choices. We end the day with a prayer that reminds them that they are called to be leaders, like Esther. By now, they they finish these affirmations on their own, because they’ve heard them so often. It’s ingrained in their mind. That’s exactly the way I want it to be, focused on the finish line.
I’ve been reading the book, 7 Habits of Highly Effective People the past few weeks and it’s so amazing to see a book that has set on my shelf for years be a great depiction of many things that I already believe. The chapter that I’m currently reading is called begin with the end in mind. Coincidence? I think not. Let’s face it, as parents of young kids we’re smack in the middle of the most important indoctrination phase of our kids lives. Oftentimes, what doesn’t get planted now, won’t grow later. So we have to be proactive, about just about everything (which by the way is the first chapter). Character is created over time, but still it’s something that’s more caught than taught. So, while we’re being intentional about teaching them things, we also have to be intentional about modeling behaviors, choices, etc. I’ve shared here before that this year I’m working on my patience…cue the lesson lol.
Yesterday, a particularly long and tiring day I saw this play out in an interesting way. We were on our way to gymnastics and ballet, it was 6 and we were already late. Like most parents, I just wanted some peace and quiet while riding so I put the headphones on and turned on the TV in the backseat so that they could tune in and I could tune out. Of course, 5 minutes into the trip they were complaining about not being able to hear. Ordinarily, I would have blown a fuse, yelled for them to handle it on their own or basically shut it down complaining that they know I’m driving so there’s nothing I can do about it. But, instead, i took a deep breath, actually pulled over (we were still in the roundabout in our neighborhood), got out of the van and went to the back to fix Riley’s headphone. It was actually a small issue- her battery had fallen out. No fault of her own, she just wasn’t aware. These girls know their father. They know that I’ve been working on my patience because they both were surprised that I actually took that extra step. But I did it because I zoomed out of the frustration of that moment, with a looming deadline at work that I was thinking about, running late for the kids activity, anticipation of bad traffic, already hungry, blah blah.
When I zoomed out, I reminded myself to never let moments in the marathon be bigger than the finish line. And so I remembered, oh yeah…I want my girls to be calm, collected individuals who don’t blow up over every little problem. I want them to have the composure to make good choices as leaders. So I stopped and modeled that. As difficult as it was, as antithetical to my nature it was, it’s something I’m learning to do because that’s what I want them to see. For those perfectionist out there, I’ve got bad news for you: for this success story there are countless other failures I could tell you about (like the other morning when I blew up about how slow they were moving getting ready for school). But I’m a work in progress and so are they. We can both afford a little grace. Grace is what you receive when you’re so focused on the finish line that the present moments in the race don’t phase you.