Mother focuses on encouraging ?em

There are many times when I know the Mother of the Year award is right within my grasp.

There was the time when a well-known hobby store called out a Code 1 when my middle child seized an opportunity to flee the checkout lane while I maneuvered my cart and items to the counter.

There was the time during last year?s harvest that I ran into our house for a moment, only to come out to the exclamation of my oldest that ?Jemma is on the road.? My phone went flying (I guess that made me lighter) and my third-trimester self went running. And there was my dear middle, making her way to the neighboring field and combine.

Then there was the time, just last week in fact, when Miss Middle took off again. This time around Pizza Hut. She had enough of a head start to make it from the north to the south side before I caught up with her. And by no small miracle, the only car using the drive saw her and came to a stop with much room to spare.

So yes, all other mothers, give up now. With my speedster Houdini, I?m bound to win the trophy sooner or later.

But the ironic part?just last month, as I sat in the stands at the state track meet for the first time as a coach, I kept daydreaming about watching my daughters race around Cessna Stadium.

Yes, the very daughter I wish would stop running away, I imagined passing a baton off to her older sister in a leg of the 4×400 meter relay.

So which is it? Keep running, or not?

The answer is pretty simple, really.

Right now my job is to keep my kids safe. And part of that is to teach them not to run away…especially in parking lots. But as far as determining whether my kids are an integral part of a lightning-fast relay team…well, it?s just not up to me.

There?s always a chance that my passion for sprinting and jumping made its way to my children. During track season, it was fun to have my kids come to practice with me on occasion. My heart soared as I watched my girls mimic the older kids during warm-ups and then as I took them down to the pits to watch Avery ?trickle jump.?

But there?s also a chance that my children will have a passion for something else entirely. Like building sandcastles and making sand angels in the sand, rather than jumping.

My goal as a parent is to encourage my children. I want to build them up. I want them to know I believe in them. And I want them to be confident in their unique abilities.

More importantly, I don?t want them to ever think my love for them is bound up in achievement. And that can sometimes be hard as a parent. Even with my children of 5, 3 and 9 ? months, it?s easy to slip into the mode of comparison.

For instance, my girls were both crawling well before my son, who is still trying to figure it out. My oldest never ran away from me, whereas running away is a game for my middle. And perfectionism sometimes gets the best of my oldest, where my middle just moves on to something new.

And of course, I don’t love any of my children less. I just have to find methods that work for each little personality…which can be tricky when in the middle of a hot pursuit at Pizza Hut.