Saturday, July 12, 2014

The Journey

It is good to have an end to journey toward; but it is the journey that matters, in the end
-Ursula K Leguin




The morning is quiet as the sun pinks the sky outside my window.


Another late summer night. The last big competition meeting. JT's long days away from home stretched to 14 hours some days this week. Next week is the final destination for this season. Another regional competition will come and go.
I am awake before my children. A day I never thought would come, especially not when I just had my 3rd child, and he is only 2 months old.
"The days are long, but the years are short" -Gretchen Rubin
The most accurate description of parenting young children I've heard.
Greystoke is still Baby Jackpot. He still rarely cries. Every week his night sleep duration average shifts upward...it's at about 8 hours now.
Sometimes one of the other 2 is up at night, but only a short while. A nightmare, a wet bed, cold feet to snuggle me with.
By the end of the day I will be so tired. My body will hurt. It will be hard to keep patience during bedtime battles.
But this morning I set my alarm to wake up early because I can. Because though the days are long, the years are flying by, and I want to clutch at them for a moment.

Because my mind has been on the journey a lot lately. Though some days it seems like the only destination I can aim for is bedtime.
This is such a busy time of life, but it feels so rich. There is the temptation at times to cross the everyday off of the to-do list and just get through to the fun part, but if you do that, you can spend all day just crossing things off and miss the real moments.
Parenting small children is ripe with conflict, and it can be easier just to stay home, but out we go into the world because I want them to experience it with me.
I love the sweat, and the forgetting of favorite cups, and the mental exhaustion of learning how to outwit them...how to teach them what they need to know without them realizing they are being taught.
Every year I watch JT during competition season. Every year it grows, and he grows, and they spend hours upon hours aiming for those 2 days when they will all come together to put their skills to the test.
By competition day, they'll all be in fighting shape, and they'll have their matching shirts and swimsuits, and the competition will be fun, and all that training and fundraising and coordinating will be worth it.
But every year I see how the real purpose of the competition is just to give everyone something to work for. And something to come together for.

 And the real value in all of it isn't the end destination. It's the journey to get there.
As a parent, in order to maintain your sanity, you have to have an end goal.
Some days, it's bedtime, those are the short term goals.
But the goals I've been trying to focus on are the longer term ones. The ones that some days seem an eternity away, but will be here in the blink of an eye.
A picture for the future, though it finds me with graying hair and tired lines around my eyes.
Not successful young men, at least not the world's definition of success.

But men with hearts who are like God's heart.

Then the goal becomes, not to control them, with their boundless energy and iron strong wills, but to direct them, to point them. To shepherd them.
And then there is more meaning in the journey.
I remember looking at Aquaman when he was little like Greystoke, and wondering how I would teach him. I'm not really a teacher.

Not the homeschooling type. I'm not terribly into rote memorization of bible verses, especially given my oldest son's personality that is so resistant to performing. It feels empty.
But now that he is growing and understanding more, I see how it's really not about assignments or memorizations, and it doesn't matter if I'm crafty or organized.

We don't have to have all these complicated methods and schedules and routines, all we have to have is Christ in us.
You can't teach a relationship.
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But you can walk together. And they will watch you walk.

You can love, and seek after Him and they will watch you seek.

Of course some days that is terrifying, because we all miss the mark. We all go in the wrong directions, and get our eyes off course.

But when Aquaman comes running into my room in the middle of the night, he won't even tell me what his bad dream was, he just says: "we need to PRAY", as he clutches his hands in mine. And then I know. That this isn't just a rote passage of bedtime ritual. This is dependence.

Because he sees our dependence.

When he sits at my feet and asks about the chapters I am reading in my bible, and I don't find myself afraid that I won't explain it right. I just take a deep breath, whisper a prayer, and tell him about my Father. My Savior. The one my heart loves most.

The sun is higher now. Aquaman has climbed into bed with JT for a few minutes of snuggles. I just checked on The Dude- he's hanging half off his mattress that is on the floor. Greystoke, true to form, hasn't moved an inch. But any minute now he'll be up to eat.

Our journey into this new day will begin soon. It will be long and hot, filled with teachable moments and failures. When I need a moment of encouragement, I'm going to look to the end.

To a quiet house again as I fall into bed.

To watching my sons venture out into the world, knowing I missed the mark so many times, but that in the end I took my hands off and placed them in the hands of One endlessly capable.

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