I ask myself this question every day.
There was a time when I didn’t think it was important, or I quickly answered ‘yes’ and moved on about my day. But, when I found myself sitting on the couch 15 months ago, crying my eyes out, that’s when I realized I had forgotten to ask myself the question – and truthfully answer.
Is it worth it?
That ‘it’ can be any number of things. Is this sports practice schedule worth it? Are these late dinners every night worth it? Is my dwindling bank account worth it? Are the late hours at the office worth it? Is my yelling worth it? Is my sanity worth it? Is God worth it?
There’s a part of me – and it’s a big part – that wants to stand on the corner with a sign for every parent that reads: ENOUGH IS FREAKING ENOUGH.
Seriously, y’all. Stop with the thousands and thousands of dollars spent on select travel teams, cheerleading competitions, academic meets, college preparatory classes, vacations and time away from your family when you haven’t first asked yourself, and your kid, is this worth it? I mean, really, we have to start asking ourselves what this is all for and for whom we’re doing it. As parents, we desperately want our kids to succeed. Totally normal. There’s nothing wrong with wanting success and planning and striving for it.
But at what cost?
A failed marriage. Bankruptcy. Foreclosure. Medicated kids. Broken communication. Infidelity. Poor health.
When does it end? When do we start saying no and quit bowing to the pressure of society?
Every time I pull up my social media feeds, I see it. I see us all trying so damn hard to push our kids to excellence and then we promptly Facebook, Twitter and Instagram it. But the fallout? It’s significant.
What’s our end game? Do we want happy, well-adjusted, kind, faithful, contributing members of society kind of kids, or are we just looking for the accolades? I know. That’s a hard question to swallow. It’s a hard conversation to have, both with your kids and your spouse. But it needs to be happening.
Let’s put it into perspective and find our balance.
Do your kids excel in athletics? Awesome. Help them find their groove, select a team that builds them up, both physically and mentally. Maybe it’s the select team, maybe it’s the neighborhood sports organization or maybe it’s your own backyard.
Perhaps your daughter is gifted academically. Hooray! Seek out meets and competitions where she can exercise her brain. They might take her to New York! or China!, or it might take her to the local school where she starts a tutoring program.
It could be that music is your child’s gig. Play it again, Sam. Find that music teacher who gets her students collegiate scholarships, or maybe your son just finds the nearest piano and plays in the church band.
After you do all that, you might even discover that your son or daughter’s interests have changed. Heck, maybe you’ve changed. It’s okay to switch gears and find a new passion. I’m giving you permission to change course and not feel guilty about it.
Bottom line? We’ve forgotten how to be satisfied. We keep searching for success, worrying that we’re missing out on THE THING when really, simply enjoying the activity, with the people we love IS the thing. The next time your child comes to you, with registration papers for an activity in hand, ask yourself if it’s worth it. If it is, go forth with tempered expectations and a prayerful heart. I have no doubt you’ll find joy. And if it’s not? Don’t be afraid to say no. Those no’s are hard to say and sometimes the tears will come. But in ten years, you’ll look back and say, it was worth it.
The life we’re living – with its joy and peace and contentment – is worth it.