Amazing Race

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!

13 thoughts on “Amazing Race

  1. “It would have been easy for me to get caught up in all that, but thankfully, God took that away from me.”

    Whew. I’ve got the competitive streak myself, in spades, and it’s good to hear your wise reflections (and your friend’s!) on this. Thanks!

  2. it is the toughest thing to come to grips with for so many of us a-type control freak moms..

    the new pace ..

    the babysteps …

    but no matter how samll the steps, one foot in front of the other makes progress ..

    and i swear i’ve come to see just how much more of life one can savor while walking that would have whizzed right by in a blur had we been running


  3. “Endurance, patience, consistency are exhausting words to me…”

    and all the rest of us, too, sister. This race? It wears me out, and still it goes on. Interesting that, as Foster gets a little older, my focuses have changed. Less worried about racing, more concerned with keeping our heads above the water. Seeing how far we truly have come, yet how far we have to go.

    I have mean thoughts about bumper stickers. I won’t even go there.


  4. We were on the same “track” today! Ha, pun intended. 🙂

    Praise God that He views each of us individually and, because He knows just what each of His children needs –and what is best for each of them– He gives us just enough light and just enough encouragement for every step we take.

  5. So beautifully put. How much of life do we miss because we’re trying to beat the race, stay on schedule, and be in charge. Tonight for me was a perfect example of how bent out of shape (to put it nicely 🙂 I get when things don’t go as planned. It’s the little things, the little goals and sometimes the big goal or vision, that really matter.
    It’s funny how you started off with the imaginary Olympic urning. I was just watching it for a minute yesterday and thought, “If I worked at it enough, I could run something.” I tried to JOG 1 mile about 4 weeks ago and nearly died! I have a BIG imagination.

  6. major. breakthrough.

    i especially love “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.”

  7. So true with the competition thing! We even have parent meetings once a month at my son’s school for autism and I find myself at times trying to see where he’s at compared to the other kids in his age range with autism. Then you’ve got the stranger kid who’s in the store and says “hi” to you in passing. Looks about the age of your kid, and you just wish your child could say “hi” so easily. I too am learning to deal with my pride and try to rejoice in the victories that are ours alone. Compare to where you’ve been and how far you’ve come, not to where others are, I keep telling myself.

  8. Pingback: She’s His « Autism In a Word

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