Not just a Race but a Marathon
Perspective from Another Mom
I think there is nothing more overwhelming than parenting. I remember thinking when our first daughter was born, “If I can just get her through the first six months, everything will be so much easier!” Ha! As they grow, we see new struggles, with skills, discipline, relationships…the list goes through the years from crayons to car insurance! When your child also struggles in school, it tends to bring out all our emotions and insecurities as we scramble to figure things out.
As a dyslexic mom, teacher conferences have held no less terror for me than when I was the student, but now I am the grownup trying to navigate the experience with my youngest son. I felt his pain as if it were me all over again, the overwhelming sense of “I’m never going to get this” “Everybody else is so much better at school than me” “I feel like a fraud and a failure” “I’m never going to get it right so why even try”? Our youngest towered over me at fourteen and yet I just wanted to hold him close as we forged our way from one classroom to the next.
I couldn’t figure out where his feelings left off and mine began. I KNEW how hopeless he was feeling because I was too, but for different reasons. I felt guilty that as his mom, I had dropped the ball, not pushed enough – him, myself AND the school. I was feeling his same “I’m never going to get this right” – shoot – I’m a dyslexia specialist, and I STILL struggle to stay on top of things with this particular child…we both went to bed frustrated and if he was contemplating “quitting”, well, his mother was right there with him.
Then I got some sleep. It’s a wonder what a few hours of good rest will do to your perspective! And as we were up horrifically early, to study for a test he hadn’t known about, I realized I was looking at this from a very teenage perspective. We have to remind our kids that “school”, and all it entails, is not a sprint but a marathon.
1. We don’t get to have the instant finish of the 50 yard dash, like our OBGYN, child is born = job is done.
2. We don’t get the relief of a relay race where I only having to run a certain part of the race really well, then hand the baton off to someone else like his 4th grade teacher sending him to 5th.
3. We don’t get to jump over a couple hurdles and call it good like a reading coach. No, we are in it for a very long time.
Marathon runners have to have grit, persistence and determination. They have a lot of frustrating moments and they may never be the first one to cross the finish line. However, goals can be different; to “finish well”, improve their “personal best”, or prove to themselves that they could do it.
Do marathon runners have help? You bet! They have friends and family who train with them, travel with them, encourage them, cheer them on, and support them through the agonies and celebrate the victories. That is what we, as parents, have to remind our kids about when the race gets rough. Things will go wrong, mistakes will be made and there will be days when quitting seems like a really good idea. But marathon runners are an amazing breed of people. They often finish one race and start training right away for the next one! They love proving to the world that they can do WAY more than most ever dreamed.
My goal is to help my kids “Finish Well”, and to help them see that success for themselves as I strive for the same thing in my own marathons. I want them to look back with pride at what they accomplished and look forward to the next adventure with confidence
Just my two cents,
Lori – Reading Resources