A few nights ago, at gymnastics practice, the girls had a fairly grueling hour of conditioning. It involved pull ups and sprints and stretches and dozens of other things I could never do.
This body was never meant to be a gymnast.
This hour of conditioning ended with a round of fifteen push ups. The kicker was that the girls had to clap in between each one. And these girls were wiped. Exhausted. They were ready to hit the road.
I was watching this practice from the waiting room window, along with a few other moms. When the girls finished their push ups, their coach asked the team a question.
We couldn't hear the question. But about six to eight gymnasts stood up, some very hesitantly. These girls were looking around like they were embarrassed. They just stood there, not knowing what to expect. My daughter was one of the girls who stood, and I couldn't read her face.
Was this a good thing? A bad thing? Why was she standing up looking so uncomfortable?
I assumed it must have been a positive sign, because the other girls standing with her were some of the best and strongest on the team. She was in very good company.
On the way home that night, I asked my daughter why she stood up when conditioning was over. She didn't want to talk about it at first. This confused me further, and so I asked her again. I mentioned that the girls standing with her were some of the best on the team. Out of twenty girls, only about eight were standing with her. The rest remained sitting on the floor, and they were all her age or younger.
Finally, my little Gymnastics Queen spoke up. "Coach asked who didn't complete fifteen push ups with claps in between....and if you didn't do fifteen to stand up..."
I listened patiently.
"...and my arms were so tired from our workout...I didn't get to fifteen..."
So you stood up.
And the girls in the levels higher than you stood up?
I could not have been more proud. I knew in that moment that probably most of the girls on the team couldn't complete those push ups. If the most elite gymnasts on her team stood alongside her, those fifteen push ups had to be killer.
Yet most of the team remained seated. And they sat because admitting you didn't complete a task is a tough thing to do. Standing up in front of your teammates takes guts.
And I was one proud mama. At the end of the day, my daughter stood up and she was honest.
One day she will be grown up (sniff sniff), and she won't be spending hours in a gym. She won't be worried about whether or not she completed fifteen clap push ups. She will be forging her path in this crazy thing we call life. And it won't be easy.
But now I know my girl will do it with character. And that means more than any amount of clap push ups on the planet.
Mommyhood Footnote: One thing about organized sports, is that they teach kids these lessons we can't teach. They truly build strong bodies and strong minds. And knowing that makes that ride to practice even more worth my while.