Sunday, April 1, 2018

She Ruined my Egg Hunt

Not too long ago I helped organize the annual 10,000 Easter Egg hunt for the community.

And it was a blast.

Lines of moms and dads with babies, toddlers, and tweens, bundled in jackets and fuzzy bunny ears clutching plastic buckets or grocery sacks while the Easter Bunny posed for photos and the firetruck roared into the city park while acres of dewey, green grass were littered with candy-stuffed plastic eggs was always a special day.
We couldn't have done it without the army of volunteers. Posted in key spots along the line, these fine grownups had 2 jobs; to hold the line and work the crowd. Because successful egg hunts hinge on one thing and one thing only; everyone, young and old alike must be willing to patiently wait for the collective "Go!".
This is no small task when you’re dealing with impulsive preschoolers and camera-laden grandparents anxious for action shots and the promise of treasure. Meanwhile, parents are side- eyeing every other mother and father calculating the ratio of eggs and the number of kids in the crowd.

The tension mounts.
The volunteers hold the ribbon.
The crowd swells.

And no matter how many people came out to the egg hunt it always, always went smoothly until 1, I say 1, mom or dad crossed the line.

It didn't matter how kind our volunteers were, how taut the ribbon was drawn or how many seconds were left until the official ”Go!" if a single, solitary parent began to collect eggs before the official start the entire crowd would push forward and the egg hunt prematurely began.

Most years our volunteers were congratulated for hosting such a civil, fun and fair hunt - and we were very proud of the work we did as our aim was always to provide an abundance for everyone.
But those years, when we couldn’t hold the line when the parents pushed their little tyke ahead first, it was hard to hold onto the joy of the event.

Today, in many ways it’s not very different.

For example, recently at a state swimming competition, the railing had clear “No standing” sign posted. And most of us obeyed the rule. However, all it took was one parent - insistent they weren’t gonna miss their baby’s moment of glory -to stand along the rail and suddenly 50 parents were standing. Which caused 200 people to worry they might miss their babies too. Instantly the crowd’s stress was palpable. The police were present. People got very crabby. It was the opposite of fun.
I get it ..... we ALL want our babies to have the best shot at life.
I mean, they don’t call us Momma Bears for nothin’.
But here’s the thing, why are we letting the 1 dictate us?

When one parent pushes their baby to the front of the line we all feel like pushing our babies too. Which makes us reactionary. Suddenly the lot of us are behaving in a manner unbecoming because of one’s choice. One!

I’ve experienced that sweet spot in parenting, that in-the-zone Momma Mojo when I keep my eyes focused on my tribe, not the crowd, and parent according to my own inclinations and convictions.
And that is often harder than parenting itself. Because guess what? I did miss the end of my swimmer's race. My video recording proves it.

Do I deserve to see my kid?
Yes. And so do you. But I contend that I don’t have to join the mob of stressed out mommies. In fact, what if there were enough of us who didn’t follow suit in these situations? What if the one parent who crossed the egg hunt line early was left to hunt all alone? And we all stood there and watched her? Would she see that her fear that her kid wouldn’t get enough be debunked?
Could I have seen my kid swim if we left just the one mom standing along the rail alone?
What if enough of us parents pushed back in these situations?

What if we believed that despite what the line pushers and railing standers did we are going to be all right?
Our kids are all right?

Would we teach our children that you don’t have to step on another human being to get up? That parenting out of a fear of scarcity is no way to raise happy, healthy, patient people?
That I’m not going to behave badly just because a lot of people are?

Everybody wants their baby to be first. I know because I do. But I’d rather have my kid gain his accomplishments on his own determination rather than because his mommy cut in line.
We worked very hard back in those days to have 10,000 stuffed eggs -enough for every participant to have an overflowing basket. And I still believe to this day that there is enough for everyone.

That is a beautiful reminder this Easter season. There is a portion for you -for all of us. There is enough love, and joy, and creativity, for everyone. He died and rose again, as the story goes so that we can all have a space and a place.

Remind yourself of that in those trying times when you feel the crowd pushing at your back. You are enough. You don’t have to let other peoples fears feed your own. And because of that choice, our babies are going to be all right too.

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