Giving Someone Confidence To Be Who They Are

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I posted earlier on the importance of choosing your own path. Even though it’s hard, there comes a time when it is necessary to live for yourself. As a mom, I really feel it’s my obligation to support the decisions my kids make, even when I am silently dying inside because I want them to do something else. I do believe this may be one of the hardest challenges of parenting but also the most rewarding.

My daughter has been on a swim team since she’s been 5 years old. For 11 years, we sat on the sidelines cheering her on. I have always loved to watch her race. I looked so forward to the start of every season. I couldn’t even breathe when she came to me a few weeks ago and told me she wanted to play volleyball. She contacted the coach who kindly allowed her to try out recently, even though the official tryouts were held at the end of last school year. I felt instantaneous panic creeping inside of my chest. This is your junior year, what are you thinking? There are teammates who are counting on you, how could you do this? Oh my God! How could she not swim? She only has two years of high school left and this has been her sport for so many years.

Today I had lunch with her after I bought her $70 volleyball shoes. She looked me straight in the eyes and with a huge smile on her face, said, “it sure feels good to enjoy a sport again.”. My heart sank and it was in that single, defined moment that I realized for the last few years, swimming has been my sport and not hers. For the first time I was very proud that I stood behind her as she walked in a direction different than I had hoped. All that really matters is her happiness and I need to keep reminding myself of that. What makes me happy, what I think will make her happy and what actually does make her happy are entirely different things. I don’t have all the answers, at least not for her. We are so different, so the chance of living our lives the same way is probably more impossible than even I had ever imagined. You know what? It’s going to be okay. I’ve given her a great foundation and now I need to let her fly so she can gain confidence in making those decisions for herself without fearing or dreading any resistance or disappointment from me. That always has been her best stroke, AND fly she did, right out to her car and off to practice. She barely made it down the stairs her legs were hurting so bad from all the miles she’s had to run.  I watched her pop an ibuprofen to numb some of the pain from the 600 sit-ups and push-ups she’s had to do in the last 2 days to make up for the practices she missed before she joined the team and STILL she left with a smile on her beautiful face. I haven’t seen a smile like that in such a long while. And even better, the swim coach is allowing her to come back to the team after volleyball season is over. She may not be as good of a swimmer as other years but she sure will be a happier one. 

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