Thursday, October 23, 2014

They never announce the last time.  

In trying to teach my first-grade daughter, the last-born one we call the Strawberry on Top of the Sundae, not to kiss me on the lips, I suggested “mommy spots instead”.  I had begun to feel self-conscious when she gave me an innocent peck on the lips in front of others.  Pointing to my cheeks, I playfully recommended that she give me kisses on the "mommy spots" there.  The plan backfired, and now I get kisses on my cheeks, my forehead, my nose, my chin, and finally, with relish… my lips.  It has become a Grand Ceremony.

Today I was at her school for a meeting, and had promised to drop by for a kiss before I left campus.  An assistant brought her out to me, and the kisses began.  As always, they ended with the trumpet note on the lips.

I looked around sheepishly at the secretary who was smiling at us and watching the whole happy routine.  After saying my goodbyes to my sweet one, I explained to the kind older lady our little ritual gone viral.  She looked at me and said quietly, “Enjoy it while she wants to do it.”  Then, flashing like a lighthouse in the fog, the thought came to me, They never announce the last time.  The last mommy spots, the last piggy back ride, the last “help me with my shin guards,”  the last “come see my bubble beard” at bath time.

Strawberry Girl can kiss me on the lips if she wants to.  Last times come all too soon.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

What Makes You Run Faster?

We were running along a dimly lit street in the early morning hours.  As we rounded a corner, we saw a man standing in the shadows.  Quickly we crossed to the opposite side, glancing back at him fearfully.  As I turned, I saw that he was texting on his phone, earbuds in his ears, oblivious and unconcerned about who was running past him.  Threat averted.

But I also noticed that our pace increased by at least a minute.  My partner ran faster, and I ran faster to keep up.  We were suddenly motivated to accelerate our pace beyond our normal one, and we found strength we did not know we had.

I run life a lot like I run my daily routes.  Sometimes plodding along in exhaustion, pushed ahead by sheer commitment and determination.  Other days angry and introspective about some injustice in my life, running faster and stronger than average.  Knowing others are watching me can always make me run faster, with close attention to my form; fear can give me superpowers to finish in record time.  I am running, running, every day.  Running from fear that my children will be violated by evil in the world.  Running down my accomplishment list and doing it with slavish perfectionism because others are watching.  Running around and around, up and down my house cleaning because I am chased by anxiety over dust, dirty dishes and socks in the living room floor! And at the end of the day, I collapse in a pile of weariness and irritability.

On the other hand, my daughter’s toes wiggling as we snuggle under a blanket motivates me to run faster.  My husband’s profile in the kitchen as he tackles the high pile of dishes I’m too exhausted to finish.  My sons’ laughter as they have a light-saber battle in the early morning fog in the back yard.  The look in a young woman’s eyes as she understands for the first time a love-promise of God’s truth in her life.  These things all encourage me to run faster, better.  To run with certainty.  To get the prize.  And the beauty of these motivations is that they actually strengthen and invigorate, instead of exhausting and depressing me.  I’ll run faster for that any day.

Check in with yourself at the end of today's race.  Are you invigorated or exhausted?