A few years ago I “ran” a 5K: The Color Run. The kind of “race” that welcomes all shapes and sizes, abilities and disabilities. Not kidding, I got lapped by a guy on crutches and my fondest memory of that day are the donuts I ate after at a local bakery.
I still receive email blasts from different Color Run’s like I’m going to travel somewhere again just to “run”. LOL NOPE. I am not nor have I ever claimed to be a runner.
Biking is my sport. I love to bike. It’s also a hobby I share with my dad so we bike tandem together. My longest ride to date is 100 miles in a day. It’s an all day affair to bike that far, breaks and food, rest and refuel.
I have probably come up with a dozen different life applications from biking, but my most relevant (and obvious) one is this: you can only go one mile at a time.
I can’t bike 100 miles at once, not mentally or physically. But I can bike a mile, and then another, and another after that until the miles start to add up and I’m reaching my end goal. Any athlete will tell you that it’s largely a battle fought in your head, that you need to develop a mental toughness to help you conquer what’s in front of you before your physical abilities even come into play.
You learn to pace yourself, to find a cadence you can maintain. You break the day down into manageable milestones and conquer one at a time, not all at once. And then you make it down to those last few miles.The miles where you’ve lost feeling in your lower half, and what you can feel doesn’t feel good. You push through to finish strong. You find your grit.
This type of strategy is exactly the opposite of how I recently took on my “100 miles,” in parenting, which in this case was Ruthie’s helmet.
I sprinted out the gate, strong, optimistic, and ready for a quick fix. Then a few months in I started to sputter out.
We started the journey of health and healing for her torticollis and plagiocephaly when she was 2 months old. Next week she will be 10 months. Sure, it’s all a matter of perspective, but I was not mentally prepared for the length of this journey.
I took it hard in the beginning, feeling like we were here in the first place because of my shortcomings as a mom–not even noticing things I could have possibly, maybe prevented had it not been discovered too late.
The helmet got old FAST. But even amidst the challenges and tears, I had Superhero Sightings and sweet moments of encouragement from friends. I grieved the snuggles and embraced the never ending wear, remove, clean, repeat regimen. I painted it twice, adding stickers that said “courage” and “joyful”, mostly as reminders for me because I can be forgetful and sour.
Well, we are finally on the “last mile”–only one more month of wearing it for nights and naps–and I so want to be done. I want to kick that helmet to the curb, skip my last doctor’s appointment, and close the chapter on this whole ordeal.
The problem with that is not that it will do all sorts of damage if I throw in the towel early, but I am now setting the example for my little on how to do life. And sure, she’s not going to remember the details of this next month; she doesn’t even know where her bellybutton is. But it matters. Because I want to teach her to finish well. I want to be the mom that has grit, that pushes when I feel like turning soft. That follows through when I feel like giving up.
And because I want to raise a daughter that has grit, too. That has courage and perseverance. That lives life like it’s a marathon and not a sprint so she doesn’t sputter out in the middle, too tired and deflated to go on.
Things in her life will not go as planned. She, too, will sprint out the gate, ready for a short journey only to find rolling hills that go on for miles. And my grit will matter, because when those miles keep unfolding in front of her, she will look back at me. And my hope and prayer is to be running alongside her, one mile at a time, cheering her on, showing her what perseverance, determination, and courage look like.
We can do this. You can do this, Rue.
Let’s finish well, my love. It’s all about who you’re becoming along the way.