Six days a week, I spend hours devoted to shuttling my kids from one activity to the next. Occasionally, we spend our entire day sitting on a pool deck. Or the soccer field. Or in the audience of a theater. And on the really painful days, we are so busy that I don't get to see any of it. Instead, I drop off one kid, only to get back in my car to pick up another. It's hectic. It's chaotic. It's our normal.
I'm confident that there are people who look at us and think, "That family is crazy. Always jumping from one thing to the next." And I'm sure that's what it looks like. But actually, we are quite focused. Our lives are scheduled and organized and I can say without a doubt that my kids love every second of it.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm sure it would be fabulous to not run around like mad men every afternoon. And I know my wallet would love all the money we would save if we cut out these extracurriculars. But, ultimately, it is our children's choice to do these things (and trust me, we say no to a lot of other things they want to join). They are finding things they can be passionate about. Things that keep them engaged and that bolster their self confidence. Things they really want to do now and things they talk about continuing as they age - a fact that lets me know we are making the right decision for our kids.
I've learned over the years that as much as you may try to escape it, you ultimately end up parenting a lot like you were parented. Patterns repeat themselves. J and I played sports from a young age. We were academic overachievers from day one. We learned the importance of practice, hard work and commitment early on.
Now, all these years later, I see the same things happening with our children. The characteristics of our youth that we fondly look back on are the ones we foster in our girls. We take pride in their competitive drive. We encourage them to push through when things get tough. We preach about commitment in all aspects of your lives, whether it be in athletics, academics or friendship. They are learning life lessons every time they step out onto the field, jump into the pool or perform in front of an audience. And they are learning even more about themselves in all the moments in between - in the moments when no one is watching.
Yes, we live a life that's hectic and chaotic and perhaps, even overscheduled. Sure, life could be simpler and less stressful. And I know there are a thousand other ways to go about raising your family. But, those other ways just aren't what we are about. This life is what we want. It's our normal.