On Leadership in Parenting

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I spent most of the week at the Oregon coast for Spring Break. You know, after losing a kid in the forest and dropping another one in the riverThat photo up there? It’s the view from our house this week. Yes. This is one of the reasons living in Oregon, despite the rain, is worth it, man. Miles and miles of this.

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We didn’t spend the whole week together. Greg and his folks took Kids 2 and 3 home after a couple of days. He needed to work, and the kids needed the security and stability of home. Traveling freaks the oldest boy out, and the younger girl likes her own bed. One of the biggest challenges of parenting a thousand children is recognizing their individual needs and accommodating them whenever possible. Kids in big families have lots of opportunities to learn to accommodate others and to be patient and to wait their turns and to do what’s best for The Collective. The Hive. The Group Mind. It’s OK; it’s good for kids to understand community and to practice selflessness and generosity. Except, of course, when they need what they need. And so three left.

Our oldest kid, the teenage girl who’s more capable and independent and confident and mature every day, spent the week in Mexico with our church building houses for people who need them. And when we watch our kids recognize their privileges and resources and choose to give their Spring Break to help build a path out of poverty? Yes. This is one of the reasons parenting, despite the sleeplessness, is worth it, man. Miles and miles of this.

So I stayed at the beach with my two littles for a few days without the internet or computer or Wii or DS or cable or Hulu or Amazon or Netflix. It was good to take a break from screens. Just kidding. We watched 3 movies on DVD and then caught The Croods at the tiny theatre in town. I cried when they learned that following the Light is risky and dangerous and terribly worth it.

And then we walked the beach and found very nice rocks

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and battled the tide, which beat us but not by much, and we ran too fast and contemplated our size, which we decided is both very big and very small.

photo 5 (14)I saw a lot of my boys’ backs, and I thought about this quote:

There go my men, and I must hasten after them for I am their leader.

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I thought, yes. This is parenting. This rush to catch up. This leadership from behind. This battle against the tide which we will certainly lose but only after a very good fight.


And you? What did you do for Spring Break? Or what will you do?


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10 responses to “On Leadership in Parenting”

  1. There go my men… yes, yes, that’s what I see a lot of around here too!

    We are girls only in the house since my oldest and my husband are down in your neck of the woods for their spring break. I’m trying (unsuccessfully since the internets keep sucking me in) to clean my house and prep for a mega 1 year old birthday party on Saturday for which my in-laws are coming. Yup, only 36 hours left to go and I still need to clean my bathroom, make a birthday banner, a gazillion cupcakes (with frosting), oh, and take care of twin babies at the same time. No worries!

  2. YES. Leadership from behind. Always running to catch up. Never really totally on the ball. Flinging my kids into the world and feeling utterly unprepared. Good thing there’s God. Good LORD in heaven good thing there is.

    You really mess me up with your profundity and humor and heart, Beth. In a good way.


  3. Great quote: I feel like that’s what we teachers do. I wondered if it was Shakespeare, but apparently it’s Alexandre Auguste Ledru-Rollin (I’m glad I’m typing his name and don’t have to try to pronounce it because I’d sound like a drunk on novacaine).

  4. I love it that you listened to and responded to your kid’s unique needs. I believe that communicates”I love you” more than saying the words. Wish I’d done more of that when my kids were younger but at least I was directed on the right path before that part of my journey ended. Now I get to practice on my grandkids!

  5. We were headed to the coast for a break, but a big blizzard blew in two days before we were to leave, and the mountain roads were just too dangerous to drive the couple of days to our vacation. So we stayed home. And spring cleaned, sorted, rearranged furniture, did some minor (but long delayed) house renos, planted our veggie seeds (indoors), spent a lot of time playing in icy puddles and having snowball fights, read books, drank coffee. Good vacation really. And I’m actually kinda glad we stayed home.

    Your coast looks spectacular btw; glad you got away and all of your kids got to do what worked best for them.

  6. Spring break is just starting for me (I am a teacher) and I expect to look at the backside of my small boy (4) and my smaller boy (20 months) repeatedly as we venture to Portland for two nights and visit OMSI, the zoo and the children’s museum.

  7. A whole lotta nothing. Well, nothing out of the ordinary. Worked, did homework, lost the battle to keep my house clean, listened to my daughter whine because her boyfriend is out of town and she’s bbbooooooorrrrrrrrrrreeeeeeeeeeeddddddddddddd. I made suggestions of things she could do / people she could call and hang out with, but she had excuses why nothing I suggested would work, so she was just bored on spring break…

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