Racing, Yoga, & Parenting (Repost)

This originally was written in for the Grace UCC Newsletter for the Parenting Column. It was written in 2015, but the message rings true today. Please enjoy a trip down memory lane with me as we are reminded that life’s journey is all about the experience along the way – the learning, the bumps and bruises, the glitches and the glows, the experience of life.

Just recently I drove a race car.  Like a real – NASCAR – racecar!  It was a bucket list item added years ago – long before I was married – long before I was a mom.  When I was young and adventurous and confident, I decided that I wanted to drive a racecar.   I was totally intimidated, but I went in to it knowing that I would push myself as far as I believed I could, and then I would push a little further.  I didn’t drive quite as intensely as the others, but you would never know it from my joy.

That night when I opened up my journal to insert the proud check mark, I looked through the list and started to laugh when I read, “Learn Yoga”, in my definitive, declarative handwriting.  I was going to “learn yoga”.  I laughed because with my perspective today, I know how ridiculous it is to think one can “learn yoga”.  It is a practice – a thing you do every day.  A thing you learn again every day.  It is a practice coupled with confidence and mistakes and insecurities and growth.   It is a joy.

For me, it was separating the idea of learning a task (aka – mastery) and practicing a task (aka – effort) that suddenly made me great at yoga.  I didn’t need to master the pose, the style, and the depth because the essence of yoga – perhaps life – is to keep pushing, keep strengthening, and keep breathing.   I began to understand that the wobbles and the frustration were a practice that may never be perfect but the effort is always redeemable. 

You see – parenting is so very much like yoga.  Not only do I often parent while wearing my yoga pants, but the concepts are so very similar.   We have to practice.  We are always practicing.  There’s no Superbowl or World Series of parenting or yoga.  We simply continue to grow and develop – to be our truest selves and hope it is enough. 

I struggle though to extend that mindset of acceptance of who I am to other aspects of life.  I hear the call to wake up each day and with acceptance for yesterday and dedication to do better today, yet somehow my expectations are so unforgiving.   I have always been hard on myself, but when I suddenly had two precious lives under my watch, I wanted nothing more than to be the very best.   I make myself crazy trying to meet the unfortunate (self-imposed) demand to be perfect, flawless, and balanced.  To be fair, I am so very proud of the job Chris and I are doing in bringing up our two amazing children, and I am so thankful that he can balance me out!

I put so much pressure on myself to get it right all the time – the first time – every time.  How have I neglected myself the opportunity to learn as I go?  How naïve to think that I didn’t need to practice being a great mom – every day.   I find I don’t want to accept in myself my shortcomings as a parent and am unbelievably hard on myself.  We are hard on ourselves as parents.  We expect ourselves to get it right all the time. 

I am silly. 

We are silly.

As a kid, one of the household understandings was very simple, “as long as you are doing your best, I will be proud.”  As I try to pass this wisdom on to my kids, I question the authenticity of my position.   I want them to know that working hard and challenging themselves is what creates us and moves us; however, it is not always easy, nor will it guarantee success.   Practicing is often dirty and frustrating.   

Each day I want to be a better parent and refrain from outbursts, wash fewer dishes, answer the first time they call me, put down the phone, and actually be with them.  Under one perspective I see this person – this mom – scrutinizing each personal foul and kicking the dirt at each bump, and then I see my two children (Brayden-4 and Eden-1.5) and know that I am modeling the actions my children will one day recreate.  Yet I am trying to teach them to work hard and accept themselves for who they are.  The contradiction is alarming. 

Titus 2:7 tells us to “Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity and dignity.”  It so clearly calls us to practice in a way that demonstrates goodness and grace.  We have to remind ourselves that there’s true beauty – true grace – in the bumps in the road: They bring with them growth and an opportunity for grace.   As in yoga, we stretch and stumble and breathe and accept it and then stretch more: We must do so with parenting. 

The hard truth is that parenting is painful – it is hard.  Yes.  BUT – The pain is a sign that we becoming something more.  I see it during each stage where I finally understand them and the next moment they throw a curve ball – they change.  They are unpredictable, and the frustration is a reminder that our children are growing and developing and becoming more.  Their development is the most amazing thing I have been blessed to bear witness to.  It has been the greatest blessing and the greatest challenge of my life.  And it is my responsibility to teach my children that they have immeasurable value and can find and give grace everywhere. 

We will do this by accepting within ourselves our flaws, forgiving ourselves of these flaws, and embracing where we are in our journey.   We will show them with our actions, our beliefs, and our words.  Grace UCC’s precious motto reads, “No matter who you are and where you are on life’s journey, you are fully welcome here.”  Each time I read this I am warmed inside with a tremendous amount of acceptance and grace, for the words are truth without question.  It is this same feeling and these same words I want my kids to embrace, so I need to begin embracing them for myself.   

So parenting is a whole lot like yoga.  It requires me to take the time, take the breath, and take a chill pill.   We will not get it right all of the time, but when we expect ourselves to learn parenting or learn yoga, we are denying ourselves the growth within the journey.  When we look at the bumps in the road, we miss the changing of the seasons and beauty in change.   I am learning to get back in the racecar (metaphorically…for now) and push myself as far as I can, and then to push a little further.   Find the patience for it demonstrates grace.  Be forgiving as it opens a door for growth.  Laugh a lot for joy feels good on everyone.  And show up tomorrow with integrity and hope!

I tell you all of this for one simple reason – I have chosen to write this column.  It is a stretch for me in the balance of life, but this column is going to be a display of my practice as a parent.  Some will be rather insightful and others will likely make you scratch your head in wonder, but I am going to embrace this practice in parenting, life, and writing.   My only qualifications for writing this are that I love my children immensely, and I am willing to try new things.  To some I may be spot on, and to others I may be way off, but the truth is mine, and that makes it the very best truth I know. 

A favorite sermon of mine is one where Pastor Dan calls us to “Cultivate an Attitude of Gratitude”. It is an attitude I need to be reminded of frequently, so each month I will end with an “attitude” in case I miss the mark above. So mine for this month is this: I will work to be grateful for the growing pains of parenting for they are signs that we are all becoming more. I will allow myself to practice parenting and release manifested demands. I will forgive myself and simply do my best each day with integrity and grace. I will laugh.

What will yours be? And as your Life Coach, how can I help you practice in a way that allows your best self to shine? How can we welcome more grace into your space?

Much Love,


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