This past weekend took us to another wrestling tournament for my high school son. To say he’s worked hard this year is an understatement. He cut fourteen pounds to attain his wrestling spot on the varsity team. He never misses practice. He runs on the weekend to maintain his weight and for conditioning. He’s done so many crunches I’m starting to worry he might end up permanently flexed in the stomach region when this is over. The kid has put every ounce of his heart on soul into this endeavor and yet it still doesn’t mean he always wins, which was the case for the double elimination tournament we just attended. I don’t know why he didn’t go to dad, but he ended up plopped down beside me, completely dejected.
“Why, mom?” He whispered fighting back tears, trying to not lose it in front of a crowd of onlookers. “I gave it everything I had, but I still lost. Why is it never enough?”
I’m supposed to be running the mat I’m sitting at, but I ignore the boys waiting to check in and wrap my arms around my son. Thankfully, nobody gave me any guff about it.
“Never?” I whisper back to my son. “Don’t forget you have won this season. Winning all the time is hard to do. Your opponent wants to win too, so they’re not going to just lay down and let you have the pin.”
I guess my words weren’t very comforting. He broke down and cried in earnest. I raised my finger to the approaching ref, signaling him to give me another minute then squeezed my son harder. “I know it sucks, but you can’t give up. Failures are really only failures if you stop trying.” I push him to stand. “So go get dressed and start again next week.”
I watched him leave wondering if having him wrestle was the worst thing I could have ever allowed as a mother, but then I happened to stumble upon something profound in the book I was reading that same evening. It’s from Oathbringer from Brandon Sanderson. “Failure is the mark of a life well lived. In turn, the only way to live without failure is to be of no use to anyone.”
He’s right. Coming up short happens a lot in life. Learning to deal with it at a young age could never be a bad thing. So wrestle on, my boy, you’re building character that will last you a lifetime.