In the pre-dawn stillness I jog towards my shadow, cast by the illuminated street lamps. Pretend you are a runner, I say to myself as I put one unwilling foot in front of the other. It is the rhythm of my wake cycle but this is not something I like to do. It is something I have to do.
I say this out loud to the hubs; how I mentally do this. How the amount of time I jog is decreasing. My youngest son, nearby asked,
“But why do you pretend you are a runner? You’re running, aren’t you? You ARE a runner.” Out-of-the mouth of babes.
I’m finding my way among people who pretend to be something else; myself included.
The ones who are super Moms who put all this stress upon themselves. They make homemade lunches for their kids. Their homes are immaculate. They can do all things and look great at the same time and their kids are perfect.
The co-workers who have exciting lives that are way better than yours. On Fakebook they have hundreds of likes for the interesting things they do. Their weekends are full of amazing things and you wonder how they afford it all.
The parents in volunteer organizations who think they are managers of corporations. Their suggestions are always right and they know the right people to implement them; including you. They want the star by their name to be recognized for all things.
The parishioners who sit in mass and cut people off in the church parking lot with crude hand gestures. Piety lasts for one hour. Being religious is merely an adjective that doesn’t transcend into practice and real life.
While lunching with a girlfriend she shared the comment her son made after experiencing great disappointment. You don’t need a title; to be a leader. I applaud this teen for having the maturity to recognize this.
Because sometimes, our teens are more mature than their parents.
I find this happening among alpha parents in the organization which I serve. There is always something to be gained: recognition, financial profit or access to people to garner favor. I grit my teeth and filter my words. This is a fault of mine; my words have to be spoken (or written).
Alpha. adj. Being the most prominent, talented, or aggressive person in a group [Def. 5b]. (n.d.). In The Free Dictionary Online, Retrieved September 28, 2016, from http://www.thefreedictionary.com/alpha.
I feel weighed down by politics and control issues that are a part of human nature. When there are too many alphas, conflict arises and words and actions are misconstrued. If there is no transparency, people arrive at their own skewed conclusions.
Frustrated, I wheeled the tiny portable cart with two cases of water to the stadium. Things were not going my way, the entire day. Emails and texts were flying. Communication was misfiring. People were angry and accusatory. I found myself treading carefully between groups; trying to move forward. When the cart spilled over, it foreshadowed how the evening would go. I was wary.
I stood in the aisle, handing out bottled water to the two sections of students I had promised I’d serve water to; over a month before. It had been a hot day in August, the kids sweltering in the heat, and as I had walked by, the friend of my son asked if I could purchase water at the concession stand for his group. I told him I couldn’t this time, but that I’d take care of his section of kids, next time and he shrugged and returned to watching the game.
I saw the moment it registered to this teen that I had remembered, when he craned his neck out to catch my attention. I continued to pass water down the row to the eighteen students in his section, and the twenty-two students, with my son, in the row above. The simple act of bringing bottled water to these kids was appreciated. When my son’s friend grinned and yelled, “thank you,” I smiled back. I remembered.
At a Friday night high school homecoming football game, I was reminded why I serve. This was why.
The heaviness and parent drama still remained. But I don’t serve any of these people. I want for these kids to enjoy the same rewards I experienced at their ages and so I serve in this booster organization; to advocate for them and their program.
Our tweens and teenagers begin to notice the subtleties and snubs; they discover there are gray areas and observe the adults on how they navigate through them. We look at this age group and assume they are rebellious and difficult. They don’t expect follow-through. They’re accustomed to people telling them what to do.
But respect earned by a teen is a feat. They can see the imperfect yet appreciate when things get done. They want consistency and respect; to know that they count.
Respect is important, yes. But I don’t want others’ respect. I need to be able to look in the mirror, each morning, and respect myself.. To walk/jog/run through life trying to do the right thing. To have integrity.
Integrity. Noun. firm adherence to a code of especially moral or artistic values [Def. 1]. (n.d.). In Merriam-Webster Online, Retrieved October 2, 2016, from http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/integrity.
Walk-the line. Verb. 1. (idiomatic) To maintain an intermediate position between contrasting choices, opinions, etc. [Def. 1]. (idiomatic) To behave in an authorized or socially accepted manner, especially as prescribed by law or morality; to exercise self control. [Def. 2]. (n.d.). In Your Dictionary Online, Retrieved October 2, 2016, from http://www.yourdictionary.com/walk-the-line.
I include the definitions; not for others, but for myself. I need to see it in black and white to navigate through the gray of life.
And so the email is typed, the words are said. I do not lean towards what is popular; nor easy. I say the things that are usually unsaid; unsure how they’ll be received. I walk-the-line of integrity and when I choose this path, the gray haze becomes clear.
- I am an imperfect mother, but that is okay. My kids need to see me struggle through conflicts so they can learn the tools to struggle through their own.
- I don’t have to travel far to enjoy amazing moments with my kids. Most of those moments are usually when they’re home or in my car, sans Instagram or Fakebook. The best part?
Giving and receiving joy is FREE.
- I don’t need to be seen with a title, star or accolades. I am not a CFO of a corporation among alphas. I volunteer my time for the kids and do what needs to get done.
- I am not a saintly woman. But I have faith, moral values and try to follow them as best as I can. God loves me, just as I am. Flawed. (I try hard not to cut people off in the parking lot).
I walk-the-line, straying from it often. But what’s important is to know where that line is and what it stands for. My path is clearing.
Stop pretending and run with it.