It seems family life and parenting today is approached by many like stock car racing. Being ahead, near the top, not trapped in the middle of the pack or heaven forbid last place is their driving desire. Demographics and statistical break downs have become their rear view mirror on the rest of the pack.
New parents are inundated with development charts and guidelines. If little Billy roles over before 4 months he is a prodigy. Call your broker and double the college fund! If little Betty canít handle the sippy cup by 12 months and wonít stand with support for forty seconds, anxiety ensues and professional intervention beyond well baby visits may be in order or she may never take that checkered flag.
Rankings, academic, athletic, and creative have spawned a growth industry for tutors of all stripes. For the over driven they are sought not for the noble outcome of helping a child overcome short fallings. Some today are seeking vicarious out comes of simple out performance. Do the best, be the best! Out do the other guy and never look behind except in your rear view mirror.
Ratings and averages have become a tyrannical shadow of self centeredness even in the homes of otherwise fine Christian families. Being below or above average seems a place for gnawing trepidation or self assuring smugness. The social upshot is a shifting focus towards performance, personal placement and competition within families and communities. Lines of division and achievement form around the ball fields, dance schools, P.T.A.ís and even church pews.
In our family we have found out that averages are relative and expressed in our case at least, in the number of relatives present. The average morning at our house involves on average preparing; six breakfasts, five lunches, four snacks. It requires letting out three dogs taking two daughters to the bus stop and drawing and administering one dose of insulin to one ten year old blind but happy hound. This is all under taken and completed by 7:50am on average. Sounds like an endeavor you might say? Well, this is just the first flurry of activity in my average day as the at home father of quadruplets!
My wife, a gold medal mother and successful entrepreneur will have started her day at 4:00am on average. She will have walked three miles with one of the younger moms she is mentoring, completed a pile of paper work that would have dogged me for a week and dressed the Fab Four while I was off to the bus stop. All this similarly completed by around 8:00am on average.
I hope you are growing tired of my use of the word average. It is my intention after all. I have purposefully raised the curtain on the first few hour of our familyís average day to bring your attention to some points that needs to be heard. An average is just the addition of events extracted from the activities of a number of individuals, uniquely and individually created in the image of an immeasurable God. The data rated and tabulated, then divided by the number of individuals from which it was extracted is not final, prophetic nor infallible. The average is simply the mid point between extremes.
Some might find our family to be a bit extreme, out there, more horsepower than they might handle. So it seemed when we first found out we were going to go from two to six children in one fell swoop. What we have learned is that God wanted to expand our capacity. He wanted to change our focus off our plans, abilities, desires, performance and comfort zones back on to our need and appreciation of Him and all He has done for us. Still, some days I canít help but feel like Iím spotting four cars at Daytona all wanting to race in a different direction!
I could go on and on about all that has challenged, touched, strengthened, humbled, confronted, amazed and amused me in my four years as the at home dad of quads or The Quadfather as I prefer. All of these stories and insights, which I am compiling, are for making other points on other days. Part of the point here today is that you do not have to race well above the norms or be seen and placed in an extraordinary circumstance to be on the track. Spiritual, emotional and personal victories, purpose, guidance and hope are there right now for all of us regardless of where we rank or think we rank on race day.
What others have or have not achieved, never been tempted by or succumbed to and how we stack up to them has nearly nothing to do with what God has going on in our lives right now. What changes the outcomes is our knowing our worth to Him and how it is unchanged and unmoved by our personal victories, failures, performance and self perceptions.
What He chose to focus us may not be for you but I wouldnít trade it for anything I know. In it however is no evidence of a greater trust orlove for me and mine. Just proof that His individual, creative care and cultivation of His children knows no bounds and points very much towards a loving and fully developed divine sense of humor.
We are all so much more than the sum of our parts, the break down of our successes, our failures and our actual or desired worldly accomplishments. If we can keep our eyes off the race, be open to a bit of Divine direction and drive our best with our hearts running empty of strife and subtle pride towards others, we will be parents and families that stay and finish intact. In todayís world this is a true measure of success no matter how many wrecks youíve had in past races or how many cars you might be guiding down lifeís track behind you right now.
Copyright 2006 Mike Poff
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