“Why do we say, “Clarks don’t quit?”” Not exactly the conversation I expected that early in the morning with my precocious six year old. But, I thought, “Bring it!” I began explaining why we don’t quit on things – we need to stick to our decisions – even when it is hard. When you push through we can learn so much. Quitting is just too easy. I began telling her that Clarks have had the motto of not quitting for a long time.
Years earlier, 23 actually, my husband and I vowed to each other, not to quit on marriage. We are more in love now than when we began our marriage. This has come as a blessing of persistence and intentionality. We chose to never discuss divorce. And though I’ve not always made that easy for my husband, he is a strong man who remains faithful and solid and is ever-forgiving. Mr. Clark had a no quit attitude long before he met me and I am reminded daily how uncommon that really is. Because of that vow we have a “no-quit” marriage.
Then came kids, then another and another. We saw early on how easy a person’s default, even as a toddler, is to quit when something is tough. It is easy to quit on friends, commitments, classes, or just quit trying when we are learning something new. It was at that time that our family adopted our own quirky one-lyric song, “Clarks don’t quit, they are winners…” I was often sung in repetition and became a motto. Who would have guessed 20 years ago that we would still refer to that quirky motto? Yet it has been steadfast. It has been a constant that I hope our children know is a no-brainer when they individually or we as a family face adversities – big and small. With that attitude we have pulled our kids through challenges over the years – learning to ride a bike, audition for a musical, stick to a sports team, finishing challenging papers and more.
When my six year old asked the question, little did she know that the foundation of the answer to the question was laid long before she was born. It is not easy to push through challenges, but the rewards are great.
She followed up with a second question, “Mom, have you ever quit?” Ouch, I did not have the same, “Bring it!” gusto to that question.
The answer is an obvious yes. Sometimes quitting is the right thing to do given specific circumstances or when an opportunity affords itself that requires quitting or ending one thing to start another. I have quit jobs before and even recommended it to my children when it was appropriate. However, I knew that is not what she meant when she asked. The answer is still yes. I have quit – sometimes in action and sometimes only internally in my thoughts. I have quit doing something that just seems too hard or not worth the effort or pain. In years past I have quit on friendships, not through overt action, but by mere busyness or laziness. I have learned though that quitting when uncomfortable is never a path towards success. And fortunately, I am married to a non-quitter that continually pulls me through when my attitude slips.
I am so joyed to have been reminded of the need to communicate why “Clarks don’t quit.” I chuckle at the thought of our other catch phrase, “Clarks don’t leave Clarks behind.” As simple as that one is, it has been said dozens of times as an encouragement from one sibling to another that we don’t leave anyone behind – family first. We have such an opportunity to breathe life into our children as we guide and direct the path they will start on. How many lessons do we teach now that will still be discussed in 10, 20 or 30 years? I pray that someday I will hear, “Grandma, why do we say, “Clarks don’t quit?”