We have reached the stage where both of our older children are in competitive sports or activities. The crazy whirlwind keeps every member of our family busy. Especially after the past year, I am grateful to have places to go and things to do again. I love watching my kids compete in the things they love.
I especially like watching my kids compete in the things I love.
The harder I work to help them prepare, the more I want them to do well. The more we practice, the better I expect them to perform. I push them hard so we can win. And if I’m not careful, I get so caught up in performance that they becomes we and we becomes me. Then it’s all about me.
But I am not the one competing.
I have always been passionate about my kids’ activities, but it was easier for me to keep things in perspective when it was just my son’s sports. Once my daughter started competing, it took on a whole different level. We share similar interests, so it’s easy to get absorbed in her activities. As I watch her develop her talents, I remember how much I loved to perform and I regret the times I didn’t push myself harder. It’s almost as if I get to start over again and relive my dreams through her. Except I don’t.
Because I am not the one competing.
Several weeks ago, I was helping her prepare for a competition and we had an argument about how much more practice time she needed. She thought she was finished and I’m pretty sure I responded, “You aren’t even close to being finished. If it were my competition, I would practice for several more hours!”
Um. She’s seven.
This was on the heels of another alarming event where a competition did not go well and I found myself way too concerned about the results. Oh, I don’t know. Like I was the one competing.
But no. I’m not THAT mom! I am secure in who I am and not trying to project my child’s performance as a reflection of my own worth. Right? I’m not overly involved or overly emotional in my child’s activities to the point that I lose perspective. Right? I’m not living vicariously through my child! Right? Right?
Oh yeah. I AM NOT THE ONE COMPETING.
When my child doesn’t have her best performance and the results show it, I’m not the one competing. If she impresses the judges and wins every event, I’m still not the one competing. If my son makes an amazing play that propels his team to victory, I’m not the one competing. If he loses every single game, I’m not the one competing.
If I make it all about myself, I am not teaching my children. My job is to keep things in perspective so they can do the same. I expect them to do their best and work hard, and I do want them to win. But no matter how hard they work and even if they do their best, someone else may still win. And they need to know how to win or lose graciously. So, I need to model how to win or lose graciously.
Most importantly, my children are not their sports or their activities. Their value does not come from their performance. The victories, losses, trophies, medals, ribbons, and rings do not define them. And they don’t define me.
Even though I am not the one competing.
I am not the one competing, but my husband and I are the ones providing the opportunities, encouraging the kids, paying for the lessons, driving all over town, waking up at dawn, scrubbing dirt out of uniforms, gluing rhinestones on costumes, preparing snacks, packing supplies, refilling water bottles, fixing hair, consoling losses, coaching, cheering at the top of our lungs, and taking a million pictures and videos along the way. And I would not trade it for the world!