Every four years – be it judo, archery, or synchronized swimming – I have the nerve to think that with a little training, I, too, could be an Olympic champion. Name the sport, I can imagine myself competing in it – well, everything but gymnastics – there’s not enough training in the world that could make me do a triple twisting double straight half twist back tuck handspring.
But I have to laugh at my tired, old, out-of-shape self pretending to serve like the beach volleyball girls or sprint out of my pretend starting blocks when the gun goes off.
I have always loved competition and winning. And I married a man just like me. You know how when you’re playing air hockey with a little kid and you’re supposed to “lose” because you’re the adult? We don’t do that. Early on in our dating days we figured out that it was NOT a good idea for us to go bowling or putt-putt golfing together. In our house, a nice friendly game of Bible Pictionary can turn dangerous. Right now, we’re both working on grad degrees and our GPAs are competing… (Pssst. AND I’M WINNING.)
When Rhema was born, I was not a crazed competitive mom, but I admit I had what Jane Taylor McDonnell calls “new mother’s egotism.” I’d read all the books, and I followed the developmental milestone charts closely. As Rhema hit her milestones early or on time I actually thought I had something to do with it. I thought it must be the good mothering, and all those good genes I had passed onto her. I assumed she would be reading Shakespeare by age two. It wasn’t until 15 months of age, when she suddenly started falling behind, did I remember that I had very little control.
After her diagnosis, I would mentally enter my child into “races” with, oh, say, the neighbor’s baby. (!) If Rhema starts talking before Susie does, then we’ll be o.k., I’d think. Then I would chide myself: now you’re racing against a newborn???
The competition got turned on it’s head when Rhema’s little sister was born and then surpassed Rhema’s language abilities in a matter of twelve months. We were relieved and thrilled when Hope began talking. It has been the most bittersweet thing I’ve ever experienced.
I was talking to my friend Carrie who has a beautiful little girl with PDD about competition and comparisons one day and she said, “You know, I think I grew up in the overachieving town that invented the “My Kid Is An Honor Student” bumper stickers. It would have been easy for me to get caught up in all that, but thankfully, God took that away from me.” It was simple, and yet profound for me to see that she was completely at peace with the race her family had been marked to run.
Along with God showing me how prideful I can be, He’s been teaching me a lesson about running races. In highschool, I ran track. I was a sprinter; definitely not a long distance runner. Any thing over one lap around the track would guarantee me hyperventilating, losing my form, and eventually quitting.
I now know that Rhema’s race, our race, is not a sprint; we have to learn to go the distance. We have always focused on the speed of her progress; only now are we learning to treasure the slow and steady gains. Endurance, patience, consistency are exhausting words to me, but no doubt some of the words used by successful athletes.
I am also learning that the victory of one does not have to mean the loss of others. Each one has their own race to run. Victories can come along the way.
And so, we cheer each other on (thanks family, friends, teachers, therapists and fellow bloggers!). And we run, sometimes like the hare, mostly like the tortoise, but still in the race.
Let us run with patience the race that is set before us – Heb 12:1
By the way, I found the perfect Olympic sport for Rhema: Trampoline!