Don’t Assess at the Top of the Hill

Alright parents. We’re in a spot. Our kids are starting school soon, have been sent off to some hybrid combination of school or full-time school, have different schedules daily, or have become homeschooled (quite possibly during yesterday’s nationwide Zoom outage).

 

I wanted to take a second to share the best piece of advice I have (possibly) ever heard…something that’s become a common phrase in our family that might apply more today to many of us than ever before: don’t assess at the top of the hill.

 

About 8 years ago, I started running. While I’d grown up as an athlete, college and two kids had taken their toll on me. Running was about as foreign to me as anything had ever been. It was hard.

 

My husband became my training coach. My first 5k was less than graceful. The language that came out of my mouth on the hottest day of the year wasn’t gratifying to anyone. It was painful. But still, he kept up with it, even when I turned him into the problem, instead of my own fitness level.

 

The hardest part of each training run, and every single race, came as we were going up and at the top of hills… the larger the hill, the truer it was. While getting to the top felt like it should be this amazing experience, a time to fly downhill without a care in the world, that generally wasn’t the case: instead, getting to the top left me feeling defeated, like there wasn’t anything left in the tank. When I’d complain, my husband’s response was always the same: don’t assess at the top of the hill!

 

You see, yes, the time for celebrating would come. The load would get lighter. But, as we leaned in to reach the peak, and finally made it, our bodies were spent. We didn’t have enough left to celebrate, and, chances are, another hill (especially here in Central Pennsylvania) was right around the corner.

 

The phrase applies to all aspects of life… especially to the situation many of us, as parents, have found ourselves in right now. We may not even be at the top yet, especially on what – for many of us – was day one of this new sort of normal we’ve found ourselves in.

 

Things are really hard. Teachers don’t have rosters, and have more demands than ever. Some of us sent our kids into a situation we aren’t quite sure of based on the difficulty in finding real facts lately. Zoom crashed on what felt like the whole world for part of the day. Technology is hard and bulky to adjust to. Our kids are having to learn to type, and navigate Chrome books, and interact with masks on or through screens, some with air conditioning, some with stifling heat. Some of us literally missed the bus on day one. Y’all. I’ve heard it all and I’m here with you.

 

This. Is. One. Gigantic. Hill.

 

We might not be able to see the top yet. We might not know what happens after we hit the next plateau: there may be another uphill climb.

 

But guys: we’ve got this. Now is not the time to assess. Now is the time to learn patience like never before. To give grace. To take really deep breaths and to lean the whole way in. We’ve trained for this. Every single life lesson we’ve learned up to this point will somehow make us reach the top. We might be more beaten up than ever when we arrive but arrive we will. And when we do, we will celebrate together because it will be one heck of an accomplishment. We’ve created these little miracles: we will be their stability in a world where it seems hard to come by and some day we will look back amazed at what we accomplished.

 

But today? Today’s not the day for celebrating. Today’s about leaning in and getting there. Don’t assess at the top of the hill. You’ve got this. Keep going.

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