After months of training for the Bank One Marathon, race day had finally arrived. Nerves, excitement and adrenalin were pumping vigorously through my veins. Shots rang out, signaling the start of the event, and a sea of runners were heard pounding the pavement. After a few minutes, I started pacing myself. Five hours later, nothing was more exhilarating than crossing the finish line.
The preparation that goes into training for a marathon is similar to that necessary for raising children. It is by no means a short-term endeavor. What’s critical about going the distance is keeping your eyes on the prize: making it across the finish line or, in the context of parenting, high school graduation. There is truly nothing as sweet.
Once I decided to run the “race,” I realized I was in it for the long haul and quitting wasn’t an option. Being a parent isn’t a short-term proposition, either. Although Jared is 18-years-old, I will always be his mom. There have been times, even though no parent wants to admit it, that I have been at my breaking point. An instance comes to mind when Jared was causing trouble at school and I was getting weekly calls from the assistant principal. If I had quit on him, what message would I have sent him? So, I didn’t. I couldn’t. Two months later, Jared’s attitude, grades and behavior improved.
Running is full of trials and tribulations. There were, undoubtedly, many bumps in the road and hurdles to overcome as I trained for my marathon. I would get frequent shin splints which caused me a great deal of pain when I walked, let alone when I jogged. Similarly, being a parent had its own struggles: memories of my newborn son in the hospital struggling to survive a respiratory illness often plague me. Fast-forward 18 years and one would never believe my pudgy, active, thriving son was ever so sickly. The prize was worth the perseverance and determination of raising Jared to be the best young man he could be.
In reality, all moms are “marathoners.” Mothers must keep themselves both physically and mentally strong, with a strong heart, mind and soul. But we must also instill these values upon our children. And so the journey, like a marathon, feels like it never ends. Providing Jared with love, stability, security and boundaries were the tools he needed to succeed in life and beyond his home borders. Jared was my button pusher, always asking, why? Often he had to learn the hard way of dealing with the consequences. After many times of being told at age 4 to leave the bumble bees alone, he learned the logical consequence. After a plethora of stings, he finally learned to stop playing with the bees.
In running the twenty six miles, I learned I could persevere and that I possessed the determination needed to succeed. And as I watched my son and his classmates walk in procession in May, my heart leapt with joy and pride. All the training and preparation was worth the minor infractions. His aunts, uncle, grandparent and neighbors who watched him grow up from an ornery, mischievous little boy to a well-mannered young man celebrated his success that day. Maybe I’ve crossed the “finish line,” but now Jared has his own marathon to run as he ponders his own goals and endeavors. And I’ll still be here for him.