Ahh, the start of a new school year. Supply lists, book bills, registration, homework, learning the ways of the teachers this year. Then, add in extracurricular activities and sports schedules. Oh, and an injured teenager preparing for surgery and learning to drive. And a newborn… Life has been in some upheaval so far this school year.
Our mantra is, “It will work out. It always does” and “Once we get into a routine…” My problem is that when things get this busy, I get more controlling. We have eight activities scheduled between 3 and 7? No problem. It’s like a puzzle; we’ll make the pieces fit, call in reinforcements (Thanks, Dad), and get it done.
Sometimes, this approach works out just fine. What’s for dinner? Whatever we find in the fridge… last night it was a combination of corn on the cob, pancakes, rotisserie chicken, and beet salad (NOT mixed together, I promise). Running late from one thing to the next? Back-up plan into effect and forge ahead. Everyone made it to every activity; homework was completed; showers taken. Thank goodness it’s almost the weekend.
But something is missing when we run at breakneck speed. Sometimes the finer points are lost in the tight control we try to maintain in order to have this crazy schedule. Sometimes we lose living in order to maintain our life.
Thursday was that crazy day with so many activities planned. One of the activities, right in the middle, was a cross country meet for two of our daughters. I came with one of them while the other was carpooling with a volleyball teammate from volleyball practice. I brought snacks for my little three who were there to cheer and planned to nurse the baby during warm-ups.
So far, so good… The three-year old and first grader found some other siblings, and things seemed calm – for now. My concern was keeping the three-year old from running across the course and causing a runner trouble.
The boys ran first, to my dismay because I was so focused on “let’s get this activity done so that we can cross it off and move on to the next thing” that I wanted the girls to run first and leave. I had lost sight of the team.
Then, it happened. This meet was small, so all boys ran together, 5th-8th grade. One little boy fell behind the majority of the runners. His older brother finished the race and then came around and started jogging with his brother. One of our coaches was helping him along too. Then a couple more boys joined. By the time they came around the last turn, most of the team was running alongside him, cheering him to finish. Suddenly, times and places didn’t matter. What mattered was this little boy and his drive to keep going. What mattered was the team pulling together for one person, no one left behind.
We were all beyond touched and so proud of these boys. They stepped out of themselves, stepped beyond grade level, and looked out for each other without judgment and with love and support.
I almost missed this moment because I was so ready to go as soon as my girls finished their race. Arriving home and looking through Facebook posts, I saw that a similar thing happened with the girls. Our family missed it because we were trying to gather up to head out. We (I) had lost the point of team. I had lost sight of helping others, of being there for our team.
In trying to control the schedule so tightly, I forgot to be present. For now, I can only say I’m sorry, mea culpa, and that I will try to do better next time. Thankfully, we serve a merciful God who wants us to succeed when we realize our faults and strive to do better and live more closely to Him. I will learn from these kids who knew exactly what to do. They lived what Jesus called us all to do when He said, “Love one another, just as I have loved you.”
“The goal of all our undertakings should be not so much a task perfectly completed as the accomplishment of the will of God.”
St. Therese of Lisieux