Sunday, March 27, 2011

Kicking it in

When I ran track in high-school, middle-distance was my "specialty."  This was not my choice, but it was my lot, because I was not built to sprint, and I was too wimpy to train harder for long distance. So by default, the half mile became my race.

I was in terribly good shape at that time, and I remember running at nearly full speed for that entire half mile. I remember the muscle fatigue, the absolute exhaustion and burning lungs that seemed to persist through the whole race. I remember getting a little dizzy and feeling the temptation to slow down. I remember the rock that marked the spot where I was told to "kick it in," the last 150 yards of the race where I was supposed to draw on strength from who knows where and go even faster when what I really wanted to do was lay down on the soft grass.

The rock meant it's almost over!!!! and so was a welcomed sight. Yet it also meant one last burst of energy, muscle pain everywhere, and becoming so tired my eyes no longer wanted to focus. The final efforts squeezed the absolute last drops of energy out of me, until finally, the finish line, the collapse, and the eventual catching of breath.

What made me think of this experience this week?  My evenings.  That last bit, between about 7pm and 830.  The end of dinner has become my new "rock," the moment of time that shouts "your're almost there!" and encourages me to pour out the last drops of energy for the last 100.  Minutes, that is.  Until I can collapse.

My list after dinner: kitchen cleaned, coffee ready for tomorrow, baths perhaps, 6 children in PJs, three in diapers, teeth brushed, clothes out for tomorrow, lunches packed, checking homework, buddies located, music on, closet doors closed, night lights on, "hug kiss and tucks," breaking up the last few fights, and then finally, quiet.

By the close of dinner, I am out of words, or at least I would like to be. I have kept pace with the kid chatter all day long and I just feel like there are no words left inside me at all. Yet as we go through our list, their words continue to bombard me.

"Mommy we forgot to do my word cards! Can you do them with me?"
"Marcus dumped water on the floor mommy!"
"Mommy where is my Curious George?"
"Mommy daddy's reading to Eldon, can you read to me?"
"Can we wrestle?"
"Mommy! He's watching me put my PJs on MAKE HIM STOP!"
"Can we go to the park?" No, it's dark out. "Can we go tomorrow?"
"Someone didn't flush the potty!"
"Can we watch a movie?" No. "OK then can we tomorrow?
"I can't open the toothpaste!"
"Can we paint?" No. "OK then can we tomorrow?  When?"
"Eldon bit me again Mommy!"
"Mommy when can we go to Michigan again?"
"Mommy look at this beautiful picture! Can we send it to grammy pammy right now?"
"Mommy can we listen to the story about the flower girl?"
"Mommy can you brush my hair? Button my PJs? Find my blanket? Kiss me, tuck me, tickle me?"

Inside I say to myself, "You can do it, just a little bit more, you're almost there, just a couple more things, the house will be quiet soon... kick it in kick it in kick it in!"

But it's not like track.  Yes, I am exhausted.  Yes, it would be more efficient and I would get to collapse sooner if I rushed through the last part of the night as quickly as possible.  But it is no longer just about getting a good time.

It's about finishing the race with kindness.  With grace.  Tucking them in and sharing their giggles, and saying "I love you" in a way that actually communicates "I love you" and not "Oh please, just stop talking now."  To me, this is about as natural as running with grace, or even worse, cheerleading.

God, give me strength for that last hour of the day!  Give strength to my muscles and to my heart, and teach me to finish the race of the day with grace!  I need to borrow all of it from You!

Tell me parents- is that last hour before bed a difficult time of day for you?
How do you cope?


  1. LOL @ the cheerleading comment! You actually made me think of dancers - the incredible athletes who can do something incredibly physically difficult but make it look good. My day-to-day is a lot different from yours, but I think anyone can identify with putting that "game face" on when you are just . . . done. :)

  2. Oh my... I am shaking my head because I only have HALF what you've got and bedtime is still a struggle for me. I always pictured it being this super sweet time with books and snuggles. And it was... back when I had ONE child!

    1. you got it ashley! Tonight, when all four boys wanted a book but insisted on fighting ON MY LAP... I made them all sit in bed and I stood for the story. It went a little better. sigh. I still snuggle with my girls.

    2. LOVE the quote at the top---writing it down as it's very needed to show my hubby! Enjoy your family time! :) M


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