The motivation to finish strong: a lesson from my little ones
Then silence, followed by “Mom?!”
I came up the stairs to see my little guy (a true mini version of his inventive dad) standing back to evaluate his work. I could almost see the wheels turning in his little mind as he stared at the pile of unused blocks trying to figure out the solution.
Apparently the vision he had in his head wasn’t quite translating to the creation sitting at his feet. The goal, I found out, was a slide for my daughters’ dolls, that we all lovingly call her “babies.” I smiled. She’s lucky to have such a good big brother.
We worked together with the blocks, unsuccessfully for the most part, until the sizzling sound of sausage called me back to the kitchen.
“Sorry, bud. They’re just not meant to be used this way.” Before I’d even made it to the top of the stairs, his unexpected words stopped me in my tracks.
“Mom, you can’t just give up!”
Kneeling down next to him I reassured him I wasn't giving up (despite my rising frustration after just a few minutes of working on the impossible project!), I just had to keep working on dinner.
“Keep working on it. You can do it!” I told him as I headed back downstairs to the kitchen. I felt better having encouraged him, but deep down I knew my little pep talk wasn’t really needed. I knew for sure he’d figure it out. And I knew for sure his sister was going to love it.
As I sat at the stove browning sausage, I heard the pounding upstairs begin again. I don’t think I’ve ever felt prouder.
Then came the orange peels
Sitting together around the kitchen table, we pushed aside the garlic toast crumbs and half-eaten lasagna to make way for the freshly washed clementines.
Lately, fruit only gets added to the meal once the rest of the food is finished. Otherwise tummys would end up being filled with nothing but grapes and watermelon. And my masterpiece of a dinner would be for nothing!
With clementines in hand, we continued talking about the days’ events. Even our toddler insisted on holding a clementine herself. My husband handed her the mini orange, simply to give her what she wanted.
As my little guy told us all about butterflies and cocoons (their latest Kindergarten project), I peeled an extra one and set it on my plate for when she was ready to actually eat one. Minutes later, not even realizing what was happening, I glanced over to see her face concentrated on the fruit in her hand and tiny fingers at work peeling away the outside, one baby piece at a time.
It probably took her a solid ten minutes to peel that clementine, and another two minutes to eat each little section as fast as she could pull it apart.
Her determination had won out and she had a lot to show for it. Her parents’ amazed and proud smiles, a clementine in her tummy, and a plateful of peels. And, of course, hands free to ask for another one.
Apparently she hadn’t eaten much of my lasagna after all.
A lesson from my little ones
I stare at the computer screen in total defeat. The words that usually miraculously always come aren’t there. My writing is how I explore my heart, my life, and my truths. And sharing them has given me purpose that’s become a lifeline I can no longer live without. But the past few days, I just feel stuck.
I scroll through three different pieces not sure where they’re headed. Not sure what they have to offer. Not sure how or if I’ll even finish them.
How often do we hit a dead end and just want to throw in the towel? We’ve given everything we’ve got - or so we think - and we’re ready to proclaim the unfinished finished, walk away and move onto the next thing.
I sometimes forget how much beauty is born from the struggle. In the moments of defeat and uncertainty it’s hard to remember the achievements, the skills, the growth that are a part of me now because of a little bit (or a lot) of uncomfortable wrestling. When I look at it that way being stuck offers more than I could ever ask for.
It asks us to dig deep. It tests our resolve. It questions why this thing we’re fighting so hard to make happen really matters so much. And if we take the time to answer back, it rewards us with a determination to push past the barriers and fly to the finish line. And waiting for us at the end are a confidence and fulfillment that far outweighs the sore muscles and spent energy reserves it took to get there.
I guess dead ends aren’t nearly the obstacles we believe them to be.
So this morning with the computer in my lap and fingers on the keyboard, I begin to type.
And while I figuratively dust off those unfinished articles and hold them up to the light for a new perspective, what's really on my mind and heart... are waffle blocks. And orange peels.