A couple of years ago, I was in charge of the after-prom party for my daughter’s high school. It’s a great idea – the parents throw a party with games and prizes after the dance, which keeps the kids busy and out of trouble. The problem was that over the years, the parents kept raising the bar higher and higher. By the time it was handed to me, the budget was astronomical, the prizes were fabulous, and the decorating took months to plan and execute.
It occurred to me that this trend of raising the bar just a little each year isn’t sustainable (or healthy). At some point, some brave soul needs to lower the bar and decide how much is good enough.
I’ve noticed this pattern in so many areas of life lately. We need to feed our kids better lunches, throw more elaborate birthday parties, sign up for the best summer camps, and document it all on social media with the perfect filter. Sometimes it seems like the bar is being raised every single day.
Trying to figure out at what level the bar should be set, though, is not always easy. We SHOULD serve healthy meals and give our kids all kinds of opportunities and attention. So when does it all become too much and unrealistic?
I suspect the answer is different for every family and for every season of life. I discovered my answer for this season last night at my son’s baseball game.
Owen just finished his freshman baseball season at a new school. Looking back on the last few weeks, some might say that I didn’t quite live up to baseball mom expectations. I didn’t volunteer in the concession stand, buy team pictures or apparel, or provide a cake for the last game. I had trouble making sure his uniform was clean, I never had Gatorade on hand, and I only took five pictures of him the entire season.
When we got in the car after the game, though, Owen said thank you to his dad and I. He was thanking us for being there for every single game. That’s where I set the bar for this season – just showing up and watching. He didn’t care about all of those other things. He wanted to know that someone was sitting in the bleachers in all kinds of terrible weather cheering him on.
Sometimes setting the bar at just being there – completely there – is exactly what we need to do. Maybe we don’t need to make complicated plans for summer vacation this year. Maybe we need to sit in the backyard while our kids spray each other with the hose, or play a million games of Candyland, or read our child’s favorite book over and over.
Even if your family is able to set the bar a bit higher this season, don’t forget that the gift of your presence is what they’ll really remember.