I have been a judge for swim teams for several years now. It’s a way for me to watch my daughter swim without her having to worry about my competitive side coming out. I can’t say anything while I’m judging a swim meet. She’s happy with the arrangement, so I’ve continued to recertify every year without complaint.
This last week my daughter got into our vehicle after a swim meet and said, “I’m never going to be fast enough to win, right?”
Having spent more than a decade in competitive swimming, the short answer was yes, she would never be the star of her swim team, but the short answer wasn’t the complete truth. You see, just like in most team sports, everyone participating on the team has value. Even if you never take first place, a six place finish still scores points for your team. Yeah, it’s hard to be the six place finisher. Very few cheer you on with as much gusto as they do those first place finishers, but a team of twenty-two first place finishers and nothing else will never will a swim meet competition. Swim teams need depth to win—my daughter is part of that depth. So though I know many of the girls on the team don’t think much of my daughter, I keep telling her that she does have value.
What I wouldn’t give for girls to stop being so mean to one another. Every single one of us knows how much it hurts, since we’ve experienced it first hand, but hurting someone else seems to be the only thing we as woman know how to deal with that pain. It’s asinine and counterproductive, but every day I see the cycle repeat itself.
My brothers and sisters aren’t like me, and the men and women they married are just as varied in talents and interest as we are. Being different is a blessing. I have an expert to turn to in almost every field, from medical to mechanic, to help me when problems arise. I even got an I.T. guy that has saved my tush on more than one occasion. The only area my family is lacking in, that I can think of, is a lawyer, but I got quite a few nieces and nephews. Maybe one of them will be willing to sacrifice themselves for that horrible profession. Okay, so it’s a profession I would find horrible, but again this is why being different is such a blessing.
I’m sure I’ve mentioned this before—I have a naturally booming voice. It takes very little for my volume to out blast almost anyone—even my version of a whisper carries more than any whisper should. I’ve learned to not just live with it but to accept the good and the bad that come from having such a noticeable trait. It really can be of service in the right settings.
Football is one of those “right settings” where I allow my voice full rein to get as loud as it wants. Yeah, I get parents who look at me like I’m the crazy mom, but trust me, I’m using my full faculties in these moments. I know every word that comes out of my mouth will be heard by all who are there, so I consciously choose to say uplifting words for the entire team rather than just for my son. By doing so, I’m creating a space where other parents who get the urge to shout won’t be stopped by feelings of embarrassment. It works too. It usually takes most of the season games for the other parents to catch on—but by the end everybody’s yelling.
The past two weeks have been a revelation for me. My youngest son’s football team have struggled for most of the year to find consistency – no – to find a rooted belief in themselves that come “hell or high water” they would not give up until the game was over, no matter the score. Oh, a few of them fought to the end every game, but football is a team sport, even if one guy stops trying, it’s almost impossible to overcome the deficit.
Well, they finally clicked, every single one of them found the heart to keep pounding away, every down, no matter what happened. And guess what? They won their division, shocking the higher seeded teams. Even more amazing, the team seeded first hadn’t lost a game.
It was inspiring to watch. Our boys had already been beaten by both teams they played in the playoffs, but they swept the past aside and forged together. To believe in oneself is hard enough, but to get twenty-one boys to all believe at the same – it’s a miracle.
To me, snow is nothing special—I see it every year. Yet, watching my foreign exchange student over the weekend play in the snow for the first time in her life, reminded me just how fun snow can be.
Our lives are full of commonplace occurrences that, overtime, probably don’t excite us anymore. That’s the problem with life in general—there’s lots of ruts. What a blessing it is when someone comes into your life with a fresh perspective on something you consider business as usual. It really does revitalize the spirit of enthusiasm, making those ruts feel like new experiences all over again.
Sometimes the only way to know what really matters most in our lives is have it taken away.
A few weeks ago my youngest son was hurt on the football field. He was running the ball and ended up being tackled by two defenders. Like a pinball machine, he ricocheted off the impacts, having no control over how his body struck the ground. His right arm took the brunt of the impact and he cried out in a way he never has before—a sound that scared me to death.
I rushed to the sidelines where the trainer and coaches had gathered. All the while he keep saying, “I can’t feel my hand. I can’t feel my hand.”
My heart stopped at that statement. The trainer did a good job of getting him to calm down, and finally figured out it was a “stinger” he had experienced not a broken arm.
“It’s in a weird place,” the trainer said, “but if he keeps trying to move his fingers, the numbness should wear off.”
Another parent who stood close by said, “Oh that’s good, he’ll still be able to play football next week.”
I could have cared less. His fingers weren’t moving. If the feeling never came back, would he still be able to play the piano?
Right then, I knew if it came down to it, I would rather he play the piano than ever play a sport again. Not that I’ll ever be able to convince him to stop. He was thankful that after three days his fingers could grip the ball tight again. I was thankful that after three days of struggling through piano practice, his fingers found their full range of motion on the keys again.