19 July 2013

Personal Best--Winning Blog Post

Welcome back. On 31 May, I announced a writing contest to describe your personal best in or at a topic of your choice. Thank you to all who submitted essays and to the five judges who selected the winner and runner-up. Both essays will be posted here on the blog.

Today’s post is the winning entry, written by Josefina Wopatova. Please comment, let me know what you think of Josefina’s personal best or send me any message you’d like conveyed to her.

When Warren announced the contest on personal bests, I immediately thought of the 110-mile bike ride I did a few years ago. That was the culmination of months of fear-induced training. It turned out well, and I’m proud of my effort; but ultimately I decided I couldn’t honestly categorize that achievement as my own personal best.

The author’s trusty hybrid bike.

My next thought was what I would actually write about: maintaining patience in the face of parenting. I could say “in the face of chaos” but that would be redundant. 

Surely every parent is tested now and then with their children, but 2 of my 3 boys fall under the category of ADHD, which includes all the accompanying impulsivities, delayed maturation, disorganization and general inability to fit into the public school model-student peg hole.

My youngest boy also falls under the autism spectrum as defined by the old DSMIV manual. His therapist recently recommended I read the book Parenting a Child Who Has Intense Emotions by Pat Harvey and Jeanine Penzo. Dutifully, I went to our large public library system to get yet another book on parenting difficult children, only to find they don’t have this book yet. Of course, I put in an order to get it.
A sample of the author’s
parenting-health bookshelf.

Please don’t recommend another book for me to read. I think I’m the only person to have read every book on the parenting shelf of our library. While I won’t veer off into the medical facts, suffice it to say that “Frederic”–not his real name–can be the dearest, sweetest child in existence, but when he loses it, it’s on the scale of WWIII. It doesn’t matter where we are at the time and it’s sometimes difficult to anticipate the triggers.
A Mother’s Day card the author
received from her youngest son.

He is now 13 and his emotional regulation has improved dramatically over the past decade. Yet just last night I had to quickly take him home from a school function because he was heading down the track of losing it.

I wasn’t raised by patient parents, so I suppose I come by this struggle honestly. For me, it’s been a labor of love, perseverance and a desire to change history--my history, but that’s another essay. I’ve had to work at this patience thing. Did you know that “bite your tongue” is actually a physical process that some of us have had to employ?

So, my personal best is getting through a day, an episode, a moment without saying something I will regret and without falling apart. I guess I’ve mostly succeeded. The trouble with personal bests is that they presume a peak performance. For me, it’s the individual and minute successes that add up to good, or at least mostly good, patient and loving parenting.


  1. such a powerful msg - that our parenting (or any other endeavor) can be a collection of small victories rather than a single momentous one. Thanks for this!

  2. Thank you Deb. The upshot is that every day can be a personal best!