(note: I wrote this in 2015, a lot has changed since then. But so much of this has stood the test of time. Recently while working on formulating a manuscript I’m updating this as life has changed and grown.)

I was never much of an athlete. I know I wasn’t coordinated enough and didn’t have the drive to compete. 

But really, I think because it was never about winning for me, I didn’t feel the need to win. 

I knew when I ran half marathons I would never place in my age group, because I was never fast or competitive enough. I just wanted to finish. 

In theater I rarely had the lead role. I never expected it.  Yet, I knew I could make any role mine. 

Did I wish I was the star? Of course, but for some reason just being a part of it was always a win for me. 

So maybe that’s why I never have understood the competitive side of life. 

I’m not talking about sports. I always want Sheldon to win.  But I mean in life. 

 I get that there is always a need for good competition. And I get that some people were just built to move through life that way. I admire those people with their drive and their fire. 

But I’m not like that. 

I’ve never won the lottery or at bingo. But I’ve won two raffle things in the 16 years my kids have been in school. I think it was because Dyp filled out the ticket. I won a certificate to an ax throwing competition at a party last weekend. Again, Dyp filled out my name. 

Competition was the demise of one of my closest friendships growing up, and again for that exact friendship in adulthood. I was tired of the subtle put downs, the one ups, the games. Because I just wanted to be friends. I liked them for who they were, why couldn’t they just like me for who I was? The same goes for certain relationships in my life.  Relationships I thought would always be close that underlined competition slowly cracked the foundation and crumbled.  I never wanted to be a part of a competition, I just wanted to be apart of a relationship. I didn’t want to win, I just wanted to belong. 

I never cared whether people breastfed or bottle fed. I never judged on how organic their diapers were. And really who has the time to tell someone who just had a baby they shouldn’t have had an epidural? Oh I know! Someone who has time to be a jerk. 

Once, years ago I really wanted to win an award at work.  For two years I studied my meeting guides and I went all out at all my meetings with my members trying to be “the best.” I loved my job and I thought that would prove I was good at it. I didn’t win. And I was crushed. Seriously snot running down my face, bawling my eyes out in the parking lot crushed. I remember thinking over what I had done wrong- what could I have done differently? And then realized that this was why I couldn’t be competitive. It hurt too much. I was good at my job. And that was enough. 

The mommy wars was exhausting as my kids entered preschool…

“Oh you got your kids potty trained and reading in one hour?” Fantastic.  My kid just peed off the steps at church…in front of the priest. And the deacon. And everyone else in the world. 

“Oh, your kid is speaking Latin?!” My kid just yelled “Mom, Daniel said your favorite word! You know which word?! Shit!!” In front of the neighbors. 

And it doesn’t go away as the kids get older, I’ve just gotten better at setting boundaries. Which has taken years to be semi-good at. 

But it’s still there. 

As my kids have entered their teens and now I have two adults, I have had a front row seat to amazing things they’ve been apart of.  But also huge mistakes.

Is there a competition for that? Because sometimes parenting is a shit show.

 Got lunch detention? Yup. Got in trouble at school, and I had to talk to the principal…again?  Yup. Broke a window and a couch in the same week? Yup.  Broke someone’s heart?  Yup.  Ding dong ditched?  Yup.  Snuck Out? Yup. Yup.   Drank underage? Yup Yup. Yup. Got in a fight? Yup. Yup. Yup.  Hung out with people I would NOT approve of, ever in a million years.  Yup Yup Yup. Yup.  Got caught?  Absolutely. And that’s just a teeny sliver.

But there’s also the good.  Apologized for when they messed up?  Yep. Offering to help carry things when someone needed help? Yep. Making extra food for a friend who had food insecurities. Yep. Yep.  Being kind? Yep. Yep. Not engaging in gossip, even when they had been the subject of it? Yep. Yep. Being the first person to always try to go the extra mile for others, make a gift basket, write a letter, be intentional. Yep. Yep.  Came to us when a friend was hurting themselves, even if that meant they’d lose that friend? Yep. Yep. Yep.  Broke up a fight, and helped a teacher who was struggling to do it?  Yep. Yep. Was the designated driver countless times?  Yep. Yep. Yep.  Told the truth?  Yep. Yep. Yep.  

I don’t know why people feel the need to one-up others, it’s just not my thing. Life is hard. No one is perfect. I just want my kids to be good humans.

I’ve spent years of introspection on learning how to be present to others- to not just talk about myself, to hear someone else’s story and love them with their scars, stretch marks, and their real. 

Life is about a lot more than just us. 

I have spent a good deal of my life in relationships and competitions I never wanted part in. 

I’m never going to be able to do everything. 

I’m never going to be the best at anything. 

I’m not going to have some high paying career and I’m never going to bake good cookies. 

I’m going to fail people, a lot. 

I’m never going to be anyone’s favorite. 

I’m not the best daughter, sister, mother, wife, friend. I try really hard but I will still fail. 

I have failed a lot of people. Often. 

And that’s ok. 

Because it’s steals pieces of my heart when people feel the need to show me they are better. I don’t need to be that person. I can’t be that person. Because it hurts on this side. It hurts to be told in so many ways “You lost” when I was never trying to win. 

So here you go- the best of-greatest-chosen first-favorite…You win.  

I don’t want any part of your imaginary competition. I don’t want to be the best, I just want to finish. 

Because the race isn’t done. And for me it isn’t about where I am in the order…I just want to be a part of it. I want to love those around me so completely, that they don’t feel the need to tell me how I’m failing. They’ll see how hard I’ve tried to keep up. How often I’ve stopped to be there in the right now, with the people who needed me the most. 

The only day I want to win is the day I die. 

I want to face my Jesus and be able to tell him…

I wasn’t perfect, not ever, but I finished. 

I want to tell him my best moments were moments when I loved through life…when I sat up with my Dad all night in the ICU, when I packed up my house and left in minutes and drove 5 hours to take care of my sister’s kids when my niece got sick. When I sat with my youngest sister on her worst days, when I held my Mom’s hands and prayed with her before a second mammogram. When I sat and talked to my brother every night for a year when he was going through a divorce. When I watched my sister deliver my goddaughter, as I held up welcome signs. In seeing my Papa John battle through cancer so often but knowing beyond his treatments, he just wants to be able to pray with his family- and that was something I could always do with him. And now as I mourn my beautiful Grandma I think of all the phone conversations we’d have on my way to work, the times we’d pray together states apart, and how I know she knew how much I loved her. 

I have loved through life…

 When I loved my husband through days, when I didn’t know if we could love each other enough to get through it. Through depression, heartache, sickness, and mounting bills that never seemed to go away. When I held Gracie during years of excruciating tests, with insurmountable guilt that I was the reason we lost her sister, and she had these issues. I’ve loved her as we driven for hours at night the last two years, as she’s had to navigate being a teenage girl, who doesn’t understand other teenage girls.  When Jonah went through a traumatic experience and I sat with him for weeks and months, just being there, loving him, reminding him the truth always wins.   When I held Danny’s hand on his first day of kindergarten and I didn’t make him let go, or when I hugged him after his last Varsity football game as he sobbed for as long as he needed. When Micah was born, and I said over and over and over again “Is He alive? Please God. Is He alive?” And after we almost lost him, and I said over and over “”Is He going to live? Please God, let him live.” 

Because it wasn’t ever about me…it was about Us. 

I want to be remembered for loving through life, not winning. I want to spend my time being present rather than thinking about the end. 

Love through life, not winning. 

Just finishing.