I‘ve been thinking a lot lately about works in progress and finish lines.
It probably has something to do with this back-to-school time of year and the fact that for most of us there are many to do lists with big fat deadlines attached to them – things we have to finish, have to complete and a fear of being unprepared or behind.
It is a time of year for winding down, finishing up so that we can have new beginnings. And, for the most part, I like that end of the deal. Shopping lists and a full calendar are the trade off for a new school year. I love it when things are new and fresh and we get to start again.
In some ways it is a refreshing contrast to the rest of my life. The mothering, the teaching, the ages and stages of my children. So much of the daily work and living associated with those things don’t have a set end date and there is no number circled in red on the calendar for completion, no finish line.
How do we know when we’re finished? Well, we don’t, of course. We get there when we get there. We are works in progress, as are our children.
And so, like my lists I so love to write (and then happily cross off item by item) I’m learning to also love the incomplete, the undone, and the left yet to do.
In knitting sometimes we talk about being a process knitter versus a product knitter. A product knitter knits for the end result and is happiest once an object is finished. A process knitter knits for the act of knitting itself and is fine with projects that take a long time to complete and might even have several projects going on at once because they just couldn’t resist the call to create.
Most knitters fall somewhere in the middle, a mix of product and process in a ratio that works for them and makes them happy with the craft.
You see where I’m going with this, right?
Sometimes in parenting we’re aiming for the final product: getting through a trip to the grocery store, sleeping through the night, potty training, the first day of school, the first lost tooth, driving, graduation. It is good to have goals, so celebrate those finish lines.
But most of parenting isn’t about finish lines. Most of parenting is about the process: living, loving, and knowing these people we’re blessed to call our family. Watching them grow, loving them good, bad, happy, or sad. It is a lifelong calling.
Years ago, my mother, my grandmother, and I were watching my oldest daughter play. I wondered something out loud about if it ever stopped being amazing to watch your child and my mother looked at me and said,”It hasn’t stopped being amazing yet.“ And then her mother looked at her and said, “No, it hasn’t.”
Deadlines and to do lists, they are pretty great tools for getting things done.
But so is the process: being in the moment and simply enjoying the experience.
So enjoy the finish lines and the works in progress, friends. Both have a sweetness worth savoring.