Do you ever feel like your day is just a looong series of one hurdle after the other? When you get up in the morning, have you ever looked ahead to the next 14-16 hours (or more) and find them full of just one event after the other: like school runs, dentist appointments, piano lessons, grocery shopping, soccer practice, job stuff, laundry, cleaning toilets, dishes, cooking, etc.? Yikes! I’m sometimes exhausted before I even get out of bed in the morning. You?
Sometimes, being a mom is like running a race everyday. We arise at the starting line and just take off at the sound of the alarm clock. Then throughout the day, I am jumping over hurdle after hurdle – running kids around, feeding family and friends, kissing boo-boos, until finally I hit the end of the day’s race for the final hurdle, bedtime.
I got to thinking about how I approach my daily hurdle race. Here’s what I discovered:
I’m not doing so “hott”. No. I must admit, the prospect of running another day all over town and trying to fit in all the appointments and kid demands, I.mean.really! Some days, it’s just plain hard being a parent. Then, while feeling “that” attitude creep its’ way in my mom heart, I remember our 12 year old daughter, Violet.
A sixth grader, Violet has only recently made the school’s track team. As proud parents of a budding athlete, we have quite enthusiastically appeared at each track meet ready to cheer her on. As a mom, this has been an inspiration to watch. For the life of me, I just can’t figure out why 65 middle schoolers get so excited about having to run countless circles over and over again. And, here’s the part that perplexes me: They start each race willingly with eagerness and excitement in each heart. So, while I compare yet another mom-filled day of hurdles; somehow, my new task is to begin each “race” with equal enthusiasm.
Until last Wednesday. The race took on a completely new “turn”.
A new runner, Violet has exhibited quite the hankering for hurdles, of all things! Can you believe it? We are beginning to believe that she has a bit of gazelle in her blood, really, we are! Violet leaps over those barriers like deer jumping Pap’s fence-line, with the grace and elegance of a dancer in the Royal Ballet. Coach Brown has even made a point to tell Dan and I that for this track season, “God has blessed us with a new hurdler: Violet Hott!”
Wow! My Violet! A hurdle jumper! So, back to Wednesday. For the first time ever, Violet was running on her hometown track. Four middle schools crowded into our little town for the track meet. Although a sixth grader, Coach Brown believes in Violet’s abilities and has put her up against the experienced older students. Not only are they veteran hurdle racers, these girls are much, much bigger than our sweet little Violet.
It was a beautiful spring evening when the 200 meter hurdle race began for Violet. Her “first call” for runners came across the speaker and she skipped off with a smile on her face, ready to run (and exactly how my days will start from now on). At the opposite end of the field, Violet and her competitors lined up. At this end, my mom heart began to pound.
“BANG!” The starter gun fired and they were off! In the first instant, a hush came over the noisy crowd as they realized what was happening. Emerging from the experienced runners – in the lead – was Violet. For a moment, the crowd held their breath and watched to see what would happen as the runners approached the first hurdle. Leaping like a leopard in the woods, Violet sailed over the hurdle. I heard several people say, “Wow! Did you see that?”
Continuing on, the race drew more attention from others with “Who is that girl on the end?” and “Did you see her?” It was Violet coming around the far lane – in the lead. After a few moments, the crowd began to cheer.
“Go! Violet Go!” It was like watching an Olympic event as Violet approached the next hurdle with the other runners not far behind. Whoosh! There she goes over a second hurdle to more cheers from the crowd. A big girl on the inside lane is at Violets heels. Barreling down the track, she gains on Violet.
Now in a close second, Violet is amazingly approaching the third hurdle keeping up with the older runners, neck and neck now for second. Over she flew with the grace and speed of the gazelle. As they ran toward the fourth hurdle, those little legs were pumping as those not originally watching began to whisper, “Is that Violet? I’ve never seen such speed!” Coming up on the final hurdle, Violet was keeping in place for third like a pro. Not an onlooker was left in the grass. They were all at the fence cheering for Violet in her first home track race. “Go Violet!”
The crowd continued to chant, “Violet!” as she was about to leap her final hurdle to the eyes of no less than half the town and most of the eastern panhandle of West Virginia. It was a sight to see. “Violet! Go, Violet!” In slow motion, we watched in amazement the youngest runner on the field about to complete a difficult 200 meter hurdle race with the ease of a professional in a close neck for third. Inches from the final hurdle amidst all the cheers and commotion, I noticed Violet’s eyes glance from the track and met mine in the audience at the fence. And that’s when it happened:
On the final hurdle, Violet’s right toe clipped the bar as she was in the air. Toppling over to the ground, her knees hit the track pavement to the hushes in the crowd. “Oh no!” Several people held their breath.
As the other runners crossed the finish line only feet in front of us, Violet picked herself up and ran over to the destination. Last. She finished last. And, when she looked around for me in the crowd, the instant her eyes met mine, she burst into tears. Bending over, she caught her breath, with hands on her knees. Sobs began to roll over her shoulders. Disappointment fell off her cheeks. Slowly, the crowd cheered for Violet, “Great job! Wow, Violet, what a hurdler!”
“Mom.” I saw her lips say from the track. “Mom….”
Later last weekend as I pealed potatoes for a family Easter celebration, I was alone in my kitchen with a houseful of kids making loads of racket. In my mind, the image of that race was running through my memory in slow motion; her barreling down the track; crowds chanting for Violet; her falling on the final hurdle, crossing the finish line; to Violet’s tear filled eyes meeting mine in the crowd. There, it freezes.
And I recall how in the final hours at the cross, Jesus called out to His Father,
“My God, My God, why have you forsaken me?” Matthew 27:46
At that moment, it hurt even God to look in his child’s eyes.
Copyright © Angie Hott, Moms of Faith, All Rights Reserved