A life lesson: Doing it all or doing your best

Do you ever feel as a parent that you have to “do it all” for your kids? Do we work so hard to do everything that we lose focus on doing our best? I have pondered. I have failed. I have succeeded. But this past weekend, I was given a lesson in doing it all versus doing my best for my family as a result of a track meet and an upcoming family wedding. 

It started with our son, Hunter, age 15 reaching a milestone and goal this past weekend. He qualified as a freshman for the State Track Meet along with three other members of the 1600 meter relay team. Following the coldest April on record in North Dakota, with limited training and only a few track meets, this is a big goal accomplished. He cut seven seconds off his original 1600 meter relay split from his first meet in early May. He ran three seconds faster than he ever had before Saturday’s race.

The 1600 meter relay is always the last race of any and every track meet. It’s tradition. It is a pinnacle point. I was there this past weekend as a volunteer coach of kids in the throwing events. By the end of the meet for the race, my phone was dead and even my camera battery was dead. But that didn’t stop me from cheering. I love track and field.

1600 meter relay team with Adam, Nash, Mikey and Hunter. Nash on his tip toes is my highlight of the photo!

1600 meter relay team with Adam, Nash, Mikey and Hunter. Nash on his tip toes is my highlight of the photo!

In track and field, it’s not about how your skills fit into an offensive or defensive scheme like many other, more popular sports. It is you against the clock, bar or tape measure. It is a sport I have loved for decades and spent many years participating in myself. You can run your own race. You can throw. You can jump. It’s a fabulous competition.

But I don’t love a sport more than I love my family. We knew even if Hunter qualified with his team in this race at Regionals, he would not run at the State Track Meet this coming weekend. The coaches knew. I knew. Hunter probably didn’t admit it to himself. But after the race, after the screams of joy, the excitement of his new personal record, the intense finish, after the track quieted, he also knew. 

The 1600 meter relay race will be held one hour before my brother’s wedding on Saturday. 200 miles a part. There is no tangible way we can swing both events. A friend offered to drive him back and forth. But logistics and timing will not work. Even an airplane couldn’t even make it work. 

Instead of racing, Hunter will stand as a groomsman with my brothers on Saturday. He will walk me down the aisle when I stand as a bridesmaid, next to my sister. His sisters, our daughters, are the flower girls. His dad, my husband, is an usher, alongside my brother-in-law. It is a big family moment that we will not miss for a race. Generations of my family will fill the church to see my brother, Robbie, marry the love of his life, Jenn. It is a marriage that will last decades.

More races will be run. But this wedding is a once in a lifetime moment.

Now, there is a disclaimer. Since some of my friends who know how much I love track and field have questioned me how could there be a family wedding on the weekend of State Track in North Dakota! Last fall, when my brother was discussing wedding dates, he mentioned a late May or early June wedding. I reminded him Hunter could qualify for the State Track Meet. It was a long shot at the time. And you know, brothers, they don’t always care what sisters say. It seemed far off. The wedding planning started with an October engagement. The date was set and we moved on, not thinking much of track meets with piles of snow everywhere all winter.

Earlier this spring when I left my state government job, I took on volunteering with our local track and field team. Even with the record snow and cold temperatures of April, track and field became top of mind. The wedding date we realized would indeed be a conflict with State Track. But the wedding is the choice we would make for family.

I will miss coaching and watching some fantastic kids perform this weekend at the State Track Meet. It pangs my heart a bit to miss and not be able to “do it all”.

We cannot do it all for our kids. We have to set the priorities and stick to them. Family first it is. Particularly once in a lifetime events, like weddings.

Hunter made the decision easy for me.

Late Saturday, he and I drove the 200 miles from Bismarck, where the Regional track meet was held and where the State Track Meet will be held, to Fargo, where the wedding will be. He played in a Saturday night and Sunday traveling team basketball tournament. We pulled it all off this weekend. But next weekend, as he said, there are two other boys available and ready to run the race at the State Track Meet. Hunter said how happy he is that the other boys get opportunities to run instead of him. It was humbling for me to hear. And then he said with a twinkle in his eye to me, “I’ll be back next year, Mom.”

Hunter loves the race of life. A goal is a dream with a deadline. He already has goals set for next season. He knows his race is marked out for him.

Hwy13SunsetThere is a lesson in all of this for me. I don’t have to do it all for my kids. I just have to do my best. My best is for my family. My best is for my kids to know the difference and importance in our priorities in life. 

And while driving this weekend, a Bible verse just miraculously appeared in my head. Funny how that happens. 

Hebrews 12:1 “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us,”

Run the race marked out for us. That is where I am today. Throwing off what hinders. Focusing on what is ahead. Doing my best to run the race marked out for me.

How do you balance “doing it all” versus “doing your best” in life? 



  1. Suzanne Goddard says:

    Your son is awesome and truly knows what is important in life! Great job raising him!

  2. Family first. It’s amazing to me how I’ve learned this lesson even more profoundly from 500 miles away from my own. Hunter’s a remarkable young man, to handle it so maturely!

    And as someone who’s always working to understand what I can and can’t do, how much I can handle and how to gracefully say “no” to things, this is a great reminder. I’m glad you take that understanding to heart.

    “God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,
    The courage to change the things I can,
    and the wisdom to know the difference.”

    Obviously you and Hunter both have a lot of courage, and wisdom, even if you don’t always feel like there’s serenity. Stay wonderful, Katie.

  3. Great post! You have done a wonderful job raising your son for him to think beyond the state track meet. God loves to show us that he is the one who is control. After all, He is the author of life and has His own perfect plans. Sometimes those plans seem different from ours, but His are always right because He has perfect perspective, while our perspective is limited to our short time on earth. He helps us realize our priorities. Can’t wait to hear about the wedding!

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