Ages ago I was a runner. I ran track in middle school and probably high school too. I can’t even remember. It was not memorable, possibly because I was so mediocre.
One of my events was the 4 x 100 meter relay. In that event, you sprint with all your might for 100 meters before passing the baton off smoothly to the next sprinter. It was painful and nerve wracking. Again, I was not great at this running thing.
Moving on though…
Lately, the pangs and anxieties of that race have felt all too familiar.
My hubby Jed and I have entered a very exhausting phase of parenting/relationship that I’m going to call the “baton” phase. Daily, there are so many things to accomplish and so many voices talking – otherwise known as life – that Jed and I have to take turns at the helm. One of us flounders around as the parent while the other one recovers, and we pass the baton to one another as needed.
I can’t say that it’s this overt how it all happens, but surely enough, when one of us “can’t even,” the other one steps in. And we don’t necessarily transition the baton smoothly. It’s more like tapping out.
Last week I took “the baton” and traveled sans hubby with all three of my children out of town. I do realize that many moms might not struggle with such a trip at all. I am not one of those moms. Perhaps I am built differently, with different anxieties and capacities and weaknesses and strengths.
The trip included endless amazing experiences, and cherished time spent with my mom and dad. We went on hikes, we went rock hunting, we dined on fancy lunches and dinners, and we trekked through caverns. We had a blast!
Unfortunately, I was somewhat on edge the entire time, and left feeling a bit depleted. I wish that weren’t the case. These days in my kids’ lives are so short and I want to truly savor the moments, but I confess (is that even the right word?…confess) that I sometimes find it a challenge.
I took many pictures to capture the experiences, because I knew in hindsight it would all look pain free and magical, and I’d be better able to see the happiness of it all from a distance. That’s the way photos work.
I’m not sharing these thoughts in order to gain sympathy. Jed and I chose to parent this many kids; we love having a big family. We are suckers for the pain, and a happy, beautiful, luxurious, blessed pain it is.
When the kids and I returned back home from our travels, I was eager to pass the baton to hubby. I may have even told my kids to not ask me for anything for an hour once we entered the house (and no, that didn’t work). I needed to tap out, to officially be “off the clock.” And hubby was there for me when I needed it. He grabbed the baton for the evening, bathed the kids and put them to bed. I escaped for a fun photo session the next morning, went to the gym and meandered around Target for an hour. It was the break I needed before picking back up the parenting baton.
“Baton parenting” is not perfect – or anything close to perfect, but it is where we are. At least at times.
One thing is certain – I don’t want to be a mediocre parent, like I was a runner. I want Jed and I to be the best parents that our family could have. I welcome insight from more seasoned parents, those long-distance runners out there. Because I recognize that we parents are in this race for the long haul.