Cheer For Us All in May

One of my favorite things about May is seeing what your kids are accomplishing.

All the ceremonies and banquets and concerts in real life and all the social media posts by proud beaming parents are absolutely beautiful.

I know the joy that I feel this time of year. So many milestones reached. So many goals accomplished. Wrapping up the chapters and tying nice little bows on them feels lovely. I shed a lot of tears because transitions are just bittersweet.

But frankly, I also feel a ton of relief.

Guys, the kids have worked and toiled and put in the hours for months.

But let’s be honest. We’ve all worked for months.

That honor roll certificate? Face it.  You made a lot of school lunches at 5:30 am to provide the nourishment needed to make that happen.

That All-Region Choir member? Let’s talk about how much you paid for voice lessons.  (Yikes. Or maybe let’s don’t. )

That “Best Defensive Tackle” awarded on the junior high football team? You waited in the school parking lot approximately 75 hours for football practice to end while trying to decide whether or not to leave the engine running or die of heat stroke.

Parents, this gig with the child raising is real work.

You read and reread and gave feedback on the scholarship essay after midnight on more than one occasion. You Amazon-primed all the randomly requested project items. You ironed the pants and found the field trip shirt and bought new basketball shoes because they lost ONE.

And you lived to tell the stories.

The end of school season is a time for us ALL to celebrate.

And so when your child’s name is called and they walk up on the stage, I applaud your child loudly and I also applaud for you. I probably wouldn’t clap louder if I had birthed the kid myself.

Because solidarity.

I know what this represents.  I am so happy about their achievement, their recognition, their project, their award-winning piece, and their amazingly bright future. And I applaud because we collectively are doing this parenting thing!

And in cheering for all the kids, we remind ourselves and our own kids that there is room at the table for the greatness that each and every person brings. One “Outstanding Bandsmen” doesn’t keep anyone else from making their own beautiful music. One college scholarship winner doesn’t damper another kid’s bright future.

So remember to cheer for everyone in May.

Cheer for the kid who beat your kid out for the scholarship by a landslide or by a near miss.

Cheer for the kid who has the unique ability that is so unfamiliar to you that you barely understand the magnitude of the achievement.

Cheer that we all made it another year. Cheer that we are collectively raising great humans that are going to make the world a better place.

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What Goes In My Backpack

I carry a heavy load and you probably do too.

I have my own stuff. My own baggage. My own responsibilities and concerns and the stuff that is mine. My backpack is pretty full.

But then I start to add to my load.

I take on the hurts or responsibilities of my children.

I hear my husband’s concerns and add them to my heart and to my backpack.

I want to help those around me both by practically supporting and helping them and by sharing in and helping carry their burdens.

The result can be unhealthy. I can end up with a backpack full of stuff that doesn’t belong to me. And y’all, that stuff gets heavy.

It weighs on me. I can start to think about it all the time. I can’t sleep. I can’t function because I’ve taken on too much. I care too much.

A friend recently shared with me this analogy of the backpack.

I’ve started the practice of thinking every single day and several times a day about what belongs in my backpack and what does not.

I regularly sit down with people to talk about problems or projects that need to be sorted out a bit. I’ve learned that this is something that I am able to do well for people, so it’s starting to happen a lot. They start unpacking their own backpack onto the table right there in front of me. Friends, family and coworkers.

In an effort to help, I have often taken things from the table and left the room with those things in my backpack.

For a child, it may be that I took ownership of a scholarship application that wasn’t mine. I’m actually hindering their learning of responsibility in doing that.

For another child, I may be feeling the weight of their hurt about a situation even more so than they are. My mother heart hurts and so I carry that hurt around, let it turn to worry, and let it weigh me down.

For a coworker, I may see how to remedy a problem they have and offer to do three things to fix it rather than leaving a suggestion of three things they can do on their own to fix it. I pick up projects that aren’t mine.

For a friend, I am quick to jump in when something is hard for them and am tempted to offer help in a way that is more than I have time to give.

You can’t carry a heavy backpack for too long.

Lately each time I’ve been stressed, I’ve thought about what is in my backpack. Each time I sit down with people that I want to help, I think about how to help them not just in the short term but also in the long term.

I think about what goes in my backpack and what does not.