Tuesday, January 15, 2013

The Icing on the Cake

Yesterday, on my Facebook page, I posted a video of my daughter winning her gold medal on the uneven bars over the weekend.  She was the youngest competitor in her age group, and we were over the moon with her performance.  Even though I've seen her routine hundreds of times, I continued to watch my own video, amazed.

I say this because I could never do a pull up.  I was the girl who hung from the bar every year during physical fitness testing.  I dreaded that day.  I dreaded everything except the sit n' reach.

As a dancer, that I could handle.

Competitive sports is no easy business.  It's tough to know when to push, when to keep your mouth shut, when to approach coaches and when enough is enough.  It's tough to remove the filter I see my daughter through, the filter that dulls the errors and the deductions.  With so much time and money invested, it's important to breathe and separate yourself every once in a while.

It's also important to avoid the drama that revolves around the parents of athletes.  There are practices the tension is so thick it's tough to breathe.  I can say with certainty the parents are more competitive than the kids.

While we aim to keep grounded, we've had our troubles.  I've waited tables to pay the training bills and I've urged her to work through skills she struggled with.  I've cooled down after simple errors and cringed when she lost a gold at the State Championships by .025.

Like a roller coaster, there are constant ups and downs.

As I said, being a competitive athlete is no walk in the park.  They practice hard, give up playdates and work on homework before practice.  What they don't finish, they take out again after practice.

I'm so very proud of my daughter, and all my kids.  All kids excel in different areas, and parents need to nurture what their child shows interest in.  Encourage them, but don't force them.  Don't compare and don't put them down.  They see their faults before anyone else, and they need no reminders.

What I've learned the most about parenting a competitive athlete is to keep perspective.  My daughter is strong and skilled, but there are thousands of girls just like her.  What will set her apart is her attitude and her ability to function as an adult.

What will serve her most is confidence and an understanding of what matters most. 

At the end of the day gymnastics will be a part of her, not who she is.  And as I navigate when to push her, when to step back and when to call it a day, I will always give her love. 

That's all any kid is looking for, love and acceptance.  It's our job to give it to them, freely and as much as they need.  Raising a successful, happy well adjusted kid is what we all strive for, no matter what our kids participate in or don't participate in.

The rest is just icing on the cake.



2 comments:

  1. My son had his first basket in a bball game this weekend! He's been playing for 2 years, and this game they so far outmatched their opponents, the coaches made sure everyone had a point (without really running up the score). I was proud of him, but it must be frustrating to be the kid who gets to take the pity shots. They don't actually "keep score" for this level (3-4 graders), but the kids KNOW who wins. He has gotten much better and still enjoys it, but I still worry. And I occasionally have to hold my tongue when the better athletes don't treat him right.

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  2. Look at that smile. :) You are such a good Mama....the more I read, the more I know you are an amazing woman raising amazing kids.

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