01/26/2015 12:52 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

Parenting Is Sometimes Like A Triathlon

Jenny G. Perry

I have five children. My husband and I have been married for 18 years. I'm a writer, speaker and life coach. I work from home. My house is a zoo.

My oldest will turn 18 in June. My youngest turned 1 the day after Christmas. They are both girls. The middle ones are boys; the oldest turns 14 in June and the middle son turns 8 in a few weeks, and the youngest son just turned five last week. They fight a lot. They play a lot. I recently broke up a fun game called, "fake wrestling" which I put the ka-bosh on for good... you know, until they invent something similar. As the college acceptance came in from West Chester University of Pennsylvania, my mama sad turned into a happy glad for my eldest daughter. It will be so different here next year, no teenage daughter coming in the door from dance class each evening. It's already weird not driving her to dance class anymore. I'll probably miss the eye-rolling she has for the shenanigans of the boys.

A few months ago, I questioned myself and asked if I had given her enough love, in the right way, been good enough. The past has passed. I did my best and always wanted to be better. I turned 20 a month before she was born. I remember when she was a tiny infant, in the middle of the night, writing a poem about how much I loved her, kind of asking God what did I do that was worthy of this beautiful creature in my arms. She felt like magic, as if my whole life, I had been waiting for her and I just didn't know it. Now, it feels like my whole life, she has been here. Becoming her mom made me become myself. I was born to be a mom. All the mistakes I made along the way, I forgive myself and just keep trying and loving. I can be a tough, a yelling fool who is quick to anger and then doesn't follow through with punishments. I can be a pushover and guilted into things. Go ask Mom, not Dad, except when it comes to junk food, usually. I say sorry often and never hold a grudge. I don't have to have all the answers. As a parent, my goal is to love, to be a decent example of a kind and authentic person and to keep looking to understand each of these five beings I get the honor to guide along their life's journeys. I have a passion for my work, but family is my life. It is a wild ride.

Parenting is like being in a triathlon: You feel like you are winning at times. You excel in one way, but always have a weaker leg of the race. You prepare, but you never know what the weather will be like that day. It could be cold and windy or really freakin' hot. You could buy the fanciest bike and the most expensive shoes, but in the end, you are all the same. Together, you are all trying your best and looking for strength within. Some may look like they have it easier, but you can't use that as an excuse. You signed up for the damn thing and it's not even about winning, but finishing the race. You see beautiful scenes, but often, you're going so fast, you forget to notice until you get towards the end. You get worn out. You want to quit, but really, you just want to hit pause and you can't. You will never give up because you really do love it. You love hitting the zone and pushing past the crappy spots and hurt places. Pain does not mean stop, it means you are human. It happens because life and love are messy. In the core of your being, you know you have what it takes and you just gotta trust that sometimes. Keep going. You're fierce. Love and your passion for it will fuel you.