I feel like I’m always rushing around trying to move up in the pack. At work. At home. In life. Wherever I am, I can always see someone sitting up higher than me and I never stop working to get there.
This week my 8 year-old taught me a valuable lesson about the importance of recognizing how much effort goes into getting into the pack in the first place.
You need to know that my 8 year-old is a shy, brainy type. She loves reading and math, likes chess and checkers. If you put her in a room of kids, she’ll sit back and watch them all until she has fully grasped the lay of the land.
She is also profoundly terrified of getting hurt.
She didn’t walk on her own until she was 24 months old. She could walk before then, and would walk holding our hands. But if we let go, she stopped immediately. She waited until she could walk laps around the playground before taking her first real unassisted steps.
My husband and I have been trying to push her out of her comfort zone by encouraging her to take on new challenges. We signed her up for gymnastics. We take her out hiking. We took the training wheels off her bicycle. We also signed her up for the school’s athletics club.
She’s in her second year of athletics. She isn’t the fastest, nor the slowest. We can see so much improvement in her style and speed, we can’t help but thank her coach every time we see him.
This week she had her first cross-country event of the school year.
As we got dressed, I reminded her to try her best and run as fast as she can.
8 year-old: “Mommy, if I run too fast, I might fall over.”
Me: “You won’t fall, you’ll be fine. Do your best and have confidence in yourself.”
When I picked her up from school, she was bursting with the news.
8 year-old: “Mommy, I came in 27th. 27 out of like 60 something!!!”
I am so, so, so damn proud of that kid. But more importantly, she was extremely proud of herself. She understands the meaning of the words ‘Do Your Best’ better than I do. She knows that doing her best doesn’t always mean coming in first.
Her father and I forget that. We work hard to climb the career ladder, without ever taking a moment to stop and look at what we’ve accomplished. All we have in our head is the aim to be number one. We forget to appreciate what we have today – a comfy middle class life, safe jobs and great educations.
When I pour that first cup of morning coffee tomorrow, I’m going to remind myself to stop and look around at what I have. I’m a solid 27 out of 60 – I’ve fallen down, picked myself back up, gotten stronger and better along the way.
There is nothing wrong with being in the middle of the pack, especially if you worked your butt off to get there. Maybe it’s time I remember that I did.