I bet you don’t know what this is.
It’s nothing particularly unusual. You probably have one in your house. Even if you don’t, I’d bet the majority of you reading this use one on a regular basis. You don’t recognize it yet? I’ll give you a hint: If you don’t have one at your house, you probably use the one at the gym.
Did you guess it yet?
It’s the tread of my treadmill.
It doesn’t look familiar, though, does it? That’s because this is an extremely close-up shot. You don’t usually look at it this closely. The texture looks completely different when you’re an inch away instead of 5 or 6 feet away. And besides, you're only seeing one small part of it. How could you possibly recognize it from a close-up view of one tiny fraction of the whole?
There are a lot of things that look very different when you’re up close than they do from far away. When you get up close, you don’t see the context; you don’t see the whole picture. It’s hard to figure out what something is and how it works when you’re too close. But back away, look at what else is around, see the other components of what you’re looking at, and suddenly everything becomes clear.
Parenting is often like that. You focus in on some issue or problem – maybe it’s your 4-year-old’s picky eating habits, or your 6-year-old’s struggles with writing legibly – and you get in too close to see what else is around. All you can see is that one thing, in your face, crowding out everything else. If you would just back off a little, you’d see that her tastes are growing broader every day, slowly but surely; you’d see that he struggles because he wants to please you and do everything perfectly. It’s all too easy to forget that you and your kids can all benefit from backing off and giving each other a little breathing room. Because sometimes, even love can be just a little too close up.