Tuesday, April 29, 2014

You Don't Have to Give Up Everything For Your Kids. That's What My Boys Tell Me Anyway.

Last week I had the most wonderful, yet surprising, conversation with my two oldest sons.  It took place after Benedict's track meet where a few of his buddies, sitting atop the bleachers for their next event, asked me if it was true: Have you really run a marathon, Mrs. Husband?
{I love going to Ben's track meets - it's great family time!}
I wondered how they knew.  My only conclusion was that Ben had mentioned it to them, and I wondered what in the world would make any boy mention his mother at school unless it be related to the food she cooks or, in our case, having another baby.

They had so many questions about the race, and I have to admit it was really fun to reminisce over memories of such a fun event in my life.  On the way home, the topic came up again. Out of the blue, Andrew wanted to know if I collapsed at the finish line. (Oh, the drama!)
No, I answered.  Honestly, for the last quarter mile I was so filled with adrenaline and ran as fast as I could, knowing the finish line was just ahead.  And, when I crossed it, I cried, because I was so happy to have finished! It was a moment I had waited for for 15 years!

After a brief silence, Benedict questioned why I decided to run in the race last year, why I had waited for so long to go for it.  I explained to him, and to Andrew, that sometime in my college days running a marathon became a personal goal of mine.  Over the years I had attempted to train for a few races but, for many reasons, even the training never advanced very far.

They wanted to know why, so I told them:
It just wasn't the right time.  Taking care of you, and your brothers, that is what was right.
After your father and I were married, we started a family right away. Between moving and pregnancies, homeschooling, and dad's business travel, there was little time, opportunity or energy left to train for a marathon.

They looked at one another, and said, "You gave all that up for us?"
I had to smile at their sensitivity toward the moment, but wanted to assure them, that I had no regrets, that every thing, every plan that I had for my life, the great ambitions that I thought were necessary to achieve for my own personal fulfillment, ones that I had set aside for the sake of nurturing my family have been (and will continue to be) small in comparison to the rewards of raising a family.  That includes running marathons.
It's funny how as a child, growing up in a home where I was loved so tremendously, I had only the faintest of ideas of the sacrifices that my parents made for me while under the wings of their loving care.  Now, stepping into their parental shoes for the past 13 years, I think very often of how they never once made me feel guilty for the countless sacrifice they made for me or for my siblings throughout our years at home.

I have this same emotion and perspective toward my own children.  Yes, I chose to give up running marathons, traveling to participate in mission work in far off places, and devoting myself to a teaching career, but I would never want them to think, for even a second, that they took those things away from me. I gave them away freely.

I only hoped that within our conversation, giving them a little glimpse into my world, that they would feel encouraged to see that the greatest callings in life are ones of service to others, not to self and that the fruits and rewards of sacrifice allow us to experience our Lord in ways that don't always appear to be the most attractive or admirable.

Is choosing to let go of our dreams and goals easy? No, but nothing that is worth doing well in this world seldom ever is!

I'll admit that there are those staggering moments when I look at other women and am overcome with bouts of extreme jealousy, because their life on the other side of the fence looks so much greener than mine.  Those are feelings that I think many of us moms experience on a daily basis, and they often cause us to question our life choices or doubt God's love for us within life's circumstances.

I'm particularly challenged to question my stay-at-home mom/homeschool/sacrificial choices when our boys show extreme displays of ingratitude, are uncharitable, self-centered, bicker with one another or refuse to be attentive to their chores, even though I know their behavior is a normal part of the maturation process.  Still, frustration wells up inside of me, and I lose it. Lose it bad.  The list of "things I've given up for my offspring" waves like a banner in my mind, steaks into my heart and I decide for a split second that I'm done.  I quit. Forget this.  I didn't sign up for this much stuff...okay, so I did, but I'm going to un-sign myself now.

And, after reading Jenny's post about having little ones at home, I know that I am in good company, as there are so many of you out there who's every day lives are filled with countless acts of sacrificial offerings - what we wouldn't give at times for a long hot shower, a good night's sleep, lunch with friends, a 5 minute vacation from crisis management, diaper duty or life outside the confines of the home??

The lack of any of those comforts in my life, are not my kids' fault, they are divine opportunity to be stretched and shaped into a person of virtue, of holiness. Despite the daily difficulties, abandoning ourselves to such discomforts is a choice we make based not on circumstance, but on the hope that we have in a greater goal, one that is much bigger than the culmination of everything we give up from day-to-day: family unity and the call to holiness. 

Just as we near our destination the final question from the boys is one that wonders: What about now? Do you have any other goals (oh, boy, do I!)? Do you want to run another marathon?

Yes, I speak past the lump in my throat. If the opportunity presents itself, I'd like to run many, many more.  I want to run until I'm too old to lace up my shoes, I tell them with an earnest smile.
Then, we will help you, Mom! Now that we are older, we can help you!

I was so very surprised by their attentiveness throughout the conversation, and their loving response, that I absolutely could not hold back the tears.  My heart was gripped with a joy I had never felt before.  I've always believed in God's timing, His providential hand in everything in life.  Our little conversation encouraged me to keep believing - to keep giving, because sometimes as mothers we don't really have to give up every little personal goal or dream, we just have to be patient and wait for the right time to start believing in them again.


  1. This was just perfect for me to hear today. I struggle with the choice to be home with my youngest and run a daycare in my home, yet have my boys attend Catholic School. Most days it all works out, but on the "bad" ones, I need to be reminded of God's plan and how being at home does allow me to really BE there for my boys. I know it wouldn't be right for our family for me to work outside the home. Thank you for sharing!

    1. Hang in there Kristin! Your choice to be there for your boys will have deep and lasting eternal rewards!! I know it's not easy...but you're doing a great job, and your boys will one day love and appreciate you so much for being there for them! :)

  2. Your post almost has me in tears! You've raised such incredible boys! I'm so thankful they're seeing what all you do for them. Happy running :)


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