Not jogging

And so what if instead of beating ourselves up for all the things we've gotten wrong, we surrender to the idea that our kids picked the parents that would do it right for them?

My ridiculously sweet neighbors jogged past my house this morning with their kids. And as I watched them lope by – a vision of health and togetherness – an uninvited thought popped into my head:

"You're doing it wrong." 

(Said to myself and not to them.)

"You don't jog, and you sure as heck don't take your kids jogging at 8 am. It would be so good for everyone if you did. Togetherness, activity, cardio, rhythm!"

I waved meekly at my superhuman neighbors. The voice droned on. 

"You'd be better for it, and so would they. But who are we kidding? You'd hate it. And you'd hurt for days if you even tried to jog as far as the mailbox…"


You're doing it wrong.


I had the same thought last week when another family rode bicycles past. Out on a grand adventure; out in the world and moving –  together. (What were we doing instead? I don't remember, but I'm sure it didn't raise our heart-rates.)

Sometimes that voice whispers in my ear when I hear stories of my children's friends tackling epic projects for school or getting on an airplane without their parents. That voice, always whispering softly in the back of my mind. 

I heard it once when a dear friend shared a video of her child in a gymnastics competition. She! Was! Amazing! But as I watched her vaulting across the floor I thought, "My kids don't even know what a pommel horse is."

And I wondered, "What if gymnastics was their destiny and I never even put it on the table? How do you know you are destined for something if you are never exposed to it?"

And there it was again. That voice.

You're doing it wrong.

And so what if instead of beating ourselves up for all the things we've gotten wrong, we surrender to the idea that our kids picked the parents that would do it right for them?

But here's the thing.

No parent – no person – can do it all.

None of us can be All the Things to All the People.

And so what if instead of beating ourselves up for all the things we've gotten wrong, we surrender to the idea that our kids picked the parents that would do it right for them?

What if each of us landed in best possible scenario for becoming the best version of ourselves – whatever that life may look like?

What would that mean for you?  

It would mean that you pushing your kids hard at academics is just as right as me allowing copious amounts of space in which my kids can dream.

It would mean that gymnastics has no more – or less – value than learning how to draw portraits or how to make tinctures.

It would mean that a child staying tucked up safe and warm in their parent's arms for as long as they need to is just as valuable as a confident wave and nudge from their mom as they board an airplane alone. 

It would mean that we're both doing it right – no matter how different our paths may be.

And so what if instead of beating ourselves up for all the things we've gotten wrong, we surrender to the idea that our kids picked the parents that would do it right for them?

It would mean that as long as we're doing our best we can't possibly be doing it wrong.


So for me, the takeaway I suppose is to embrace the idea that I'm doing okay, even if there are potholes in the path before us.

And to recognize that if I made space to offer gymnastics I wouldn't also offer a front row seat to a goat birth in the barn.

That if I pushed my kids tirelessly toward academic success I would not make space for them to delve deep into the waters of self-directed learning.

If we had money for a new laptop my son might have a fast computer, but he wouldn't have taught himself how to reflow a hard drive when the old one broke. 

If I enrolled them in many lessons they wouldn't learn their way around the kitchen, the workshop, and the woods in the ways that they have. 

And so what if instead of beating ourselves up for all the things we've gotten wrong, we surrender to the idea that our kids picked the parents that would do it right for them?

Because we simply can't be all the things. There just isn't room.


And so to those who have told me, "You live the dream! I wish we could do half of the things with my kids that you do with yours," know that there isn't a single "right" path leading us there. For every gift we offer there's another that we don't.

And the lives that we have shaped for our children and ourselves – however different – each deliver the struggles and opportunities that will transform us in the way we were meant to transform.

And while my children may not thrive in a bustling crowd or under the pressure of filling out a scantron, they are undaunted by long strings of quiet in which to dream, create, and grow.

And while they may not know a pommel horse from a quarterhorse, one of them can teach you the difference between mullein and self-heal and help you deliver a lamb; and the other can explain in exhausting detail the difference between fission and fusion and teach you how (and why) to cold forge steel.


Am I doing it wrong? Maybe. But for today anyway I'm putting that side. 

Because – as it turns out – I'm also doing it right.


And – as it turns out - so are you.



8 thoughts on “Not jogging

  1. Kristin says:

    Thank you, thank you, thank you! This spoke to my heart as I often feel this way….that my kids are missing out because they aren’t doing x, y or z. But my kids have two parents at home with them, who love to camp, hike, build ninja warrior courses, go for bike rides, spend days at the beach swimming and building sand castle villages for hours. These things bring me great joy and make me feel whole, so next time invading thoughts enter my mind I will remember this post. ❤️❤️❤️

  2. Kathy says:

    THANK YOU! I so needed to hear this, especially today. While I’ve found lots of your posts inspirational, heartfelt, and something that I need to hear, this one was incredibly powerful to me. Thanks.

  3. Anita Peoples says:

    Love is the essential, common carrier that makes every experience worthwhile. Comparison is such an ugly habit that breeds discontent and self-loathing and it is scary how easily it can weave its way into our consciousness. Everyone is different and those differences make for a beautiful landscape of people to appreciate even if you never experience their brand of life. Celebrate experiences different from yours while cherishing your own unique experience of life, knowing they are equally important. Especially when they are lived out in love. Thanks, Rachel for this important reminder.

  4. Jennie D says:

    I probably should not have read this at work because I am fighting back tears in front of my coworkers. 😉 I often struggle to provide my children with every opportunity and was recently feeling guilty for not allowing my son to participate in a travel lacrosse league this summer. (He is only 9 years old!) I loved “…we simply can’t be all things…” I know after the initial disappointment my son has enjoyed the opportunity to go on meandering nature walks with me in the evenings. I know I have appreciated spending time in my kitchen making a nourishing family meal instead of grabbing something fast on the way to another practice. Thank you for the reminder that I just didn’t say no, I said yes to another summer of being a child.

  5. Giselle says:

    I, too, have often fallen into the trap. Should I have my son in AAU baseball so that he cam improve…but at what cost? More time in the car traveling when he would rather be home working on one of his ongoing projects or creating another one. The same for my daughter…do I keep in her Girl Scouts when she has said she wants to continue but does not show it by not comp,eating the tasks required, without my nagging, not fun for anyone.

    I have decided to try to maintain a middle of the road…
    And if they (my children) are very much interested in improving in something they will show me by finding information themselves.

    It is always rewarding to read your posts. Like I said, I have fallen in the trap and gotten out, but it is reaffirming to know that others feel the same

    Thank you for your posts.

  6. Jennifer says:

    This is wonderful Rachel – really great and true! I am frequently walking this tightrope myself and it is so good to remember that there is a force at work that does not need our limited brains to comprehend it. To trust our children and to help our children as they lead us is the most important element. Thanks for sharing your thoughts with us. 🙂

  7. says:

    Thank you for these powerful words, for saying out loud the fears and doubts that are in my head; for shining some light on this mother’s heart and providing reassurance to another parent trying to do their best.

Leave a Reply