Finishing Well

I ran a marathon.  Once.  It was a bucket list item that has been checked off and it will never happen again.  One reason is because I am not really a runner.  I tried to be for a long time but I run more like a giant….”Fe-Fi-Fo-Fum” with very heavy feet.  Another reason is a tap dancer passed me.  When a tap dancer passes you at mile 19 uphill, you look for another way to find your inner athlete.   However, the marathon reminds me so much of the school year and as an educator and parent, I must be honest, I am ready for the finish line.

At the beginning of the year, just like the miles in a marathon, the days and possibilities are laid out in front of you.  Your goals are set, the excitement is contagious, and the energy of everyone involved is apparent.  At the beginning of the race, people are running extra miles just to get warmed up. (I am not sure why one would do this since you have 26.2 miles to get warmed up….but here again…I am not a runner.)  Teachers have their rooms prepared, the floors are shiny from the hard word of the maintenance department, and all the students have their new supplies.

Then there is May.  There is a point in the race that is called “THE WALL”.  This is the place where you want to sit down on the curb, take your shoes off, and begin throwing them at people.  In the race of the school year, every educator, parent, and child feels this way at least once if not many times in the month of May. The teachers have a to-do list that will never end on top of all of the end of the year items.  The students can’t even find their school supplies and nobody is spending any money on them now.  And the attitudes of EVERYONE involved can be an emotional roller coaster in itself.  The parents have even questioned if it is necessary to go to school the month of May because really, beyond field trips, field day, celebrations, etc…let’s just raise your hand if we should end it in April.  Overwhelmed is an understatement.

In the race of the school year, the Bowers family is limping…no crawling to the finish line.  We have hit the wall.  We have a saying in our house.  “The Bowers girls do not quit.”  Weeelllllll…. I am raising my hand because I have thought about quitting May and school several times in the past week.   Even though we might want to, we do not quit.  We finish well.  What does that look like?  You take every ounce of your mental and physical energy and you not only do what is expected, but you do it well.

The month of May is almost over.  ALMOST.  I see the end on my calendar but the events that have to transpire for school to be over is overwhelming.  May is the most bittersweet time of the year.  It means another year that our kids are older.  The older your kids get means there are many lasts, too.  Chapters are ending and we get a brief pause before the next chapter.  As if we just blinked, the hand that held yours walking into kindergarten is now waving goodbye as they pull out of the driveway.

The juggling of the bittersweet can cause havoc if you are a perfectionist. I feel like this but I should feel this.  I can’t do anymore but I have to do more.  It is a never ending cycle.

I have to force myself to sit and be still.  To linger.  To listen.  To enjoy.  To breathe.  To let go.  In the craziness of life, my attitude seems to be copied in our house full of girls and lately, my attitude has been horrible.  If my sarcasm is normally a 10 then when I am tired and stressed, my coping mechanism takes my sarcasm (and everyone with it) to a 15.  The problem with that is that it does not solve the stress, it adds to it.

We were at Hopkins last week and I was reminded once again how valuable every day is.  I have been angry and anxious, stressed and rushed.  The way that I have responded to everyone has been less than stellar.  My eye rolls per minute could set world records I am sure.

I came home, sat on our back deck and looked at this.

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God painted me a reminder that He finishes well.  I am expected to finish well.  The girls and John need me to finish well.

During the marathon, I hit “THE WALL” at mile 23.  I wanted to quit but knew that I couldn’t.  There is that part of me that always fights for that last mile, that last rep, the last moments to finish well.  There is a coping mechanism that I have learned in life.  The storm passes.  The hard part eventually ends.  The girls and I have a saying, “You can do anything for ___________.”  A month, a day, an hour.  You can do it.  Finish well.

Our girls are growing quickly.  We have 3 summers until my oldest goes to college.  I am not going to waste it being rushed and stressed.  I am not going to be anxious.  I might be tired and frustrated at times but it will not stop me from finishing well.  I have complete control over my responses.

The end of any moment gives you a time for reflection.  What have you learned?  How have you grown?  These questions I ask myself daily even if the day has not been wonderful.  I can always reflect and learn.  And if I am blessed, I get to take what I learned today and use it tomorrow.

Our days are really numbered.  The doctors always remind us that they still do not know what the future holds for us and can’t make any promises. Every day in our house is really a gift.  I can only take one day at a time.  No matter what emotions have caused chaos in the Bowers house, we finish well.  Have I loved everyone in my house as well as I could and do they know it? If they do, then I have finished well….not perfectly, but good enough.

Just do one day at a time.

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Just do now.

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Just finish well.