What I learned From Baseball Last Night

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My husband is a Yankees fan. We sat down to watch the game yesterday and halfway through, I suggested going for a walk. In all honestly, it wasn’t looking good for his favorite team and I didn’t want to sit around and wait to be even more disappointed. The mile did us a world of good and the dog was pretty happy too. When we got home, we turned the game back on and slowly but surely it turned around.

I thought about how many days are like those hopeless innings in my own life. The hours and heart and soul I’ve put into something only to end up in the same place, exactly where I started without a single result. THIS game though, reminded me that life, like innings can turn around unexpectedly even when it looks like all hope is gone. You just have to stay in the field and wait while you do everything you can stalling until you catch that lucky break. It’s a reminder that the good innings will come and it is so important to embrace and enjoy them and to find the will and faith to keep swinging the bat when all you can seem to do is strike out. Go Yankees! Go you. Go me. We’ve got this. Out time is coming. Batter up!

Parenting Looks Easy On The Outside

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I was that parent with the aching back, sitting on stiff bleachers Saturday morning. We do what we have to do for our kids from the time they are born. Spending a weekend at a swim meet cheering my daughter on seemed easy compared to some of the other responsibilities required of me. The thing about parenting is this…we may look like we have it all together but on the inside we are falling apart. As the words of the National Anthem echoed in the natatoriun, that sick feeling I get in response to nerves started to take hold of my stomach. This would be the last regional meet to decide if she went onto states. Friday’s meet resulted in some slow times and I was dying inside to get this session of finals over with once and for all. I saw her step on the blocks and my heart sank. I held my breath as I watched her fly across the pool. I waited for that ball to drop. So many other times she had been out ahead but this time, something was different. This time I watched her fight through the pain. I saw the pure desire and will to win carry her across the water at a speed I had never seen before. For years she had swam in someone else’s shadow but that would not be the case today. Today was her time to shine. The amount of time it took me to focus on the scoreboard seemed like hours. There was her name with a big 1st place glowing like a blazing fire next to it. I could barely choke back the tears. I was so proud of her because I have watched her work endless hours over a span of 12 years. This was her moment, the payoff and just thinking back on it brings a smile to my face. Those bleachers weren’t so bad after all. It was an amazing day. 

Lessons From The Couch

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I’m watching the NBA game right now and the commentators keep rehashing a previous play. I actually started to get annoyed as I thought to myself, it’s over already, move on. Then I tasted the hypocrisy on my own lips. Perhaps I should take my own advice. So many thoughts play over and over in my mind about things I cannot go back and change. It’s unimaginable how many times a day I do that exhausting thing. What a waste of time and energy. It’s finally time to stop looking back.

What Competition Taught Me About Living

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I had one of those profound moments that moved me to tears yesterday. I mentioned that my daughter had swim states this weekend. It is a tradition here that the first race always leads off with the special olympics. Right before it was time to begin, a woman asked the people in front of us if she could just sit there for a moment because her daughter was in the first race. The music started playing and the kids started to parade out. The boy leading the group was so excited he was jumping up and down. Everyone in the crowd had a smile on their face. The pride and the excitement these kids emitted was energizing for everyone in the room. As the race started, the woman in front of us started cheering for her daughter. The crowd went crazy encouraging them all to finish the race. I watched the excitement and pride on this woman’s face as she watched her own daughter get that first place medal. The tears started to well up in my eyes. Sometimes we forget to count our blessings. Sometimes as parents, we put expectations on our kids that rob us of the joy and pride we should be feeling in a given moment. I realized right then and there that no matter what the result, I would be grateful for the blessings that swimming has brought into Kayleigh’s life. Did I want her to win? You bet I did. But the fact that she was there putting every ounce of effort into the one day she has worked toward all year was enough reason to celebrate. I promised myself I would have no expectations and to just enjoy this moment in time. 

My heart began to race as I watched her march out. I watched the smile and the bounce in her step as she made her way behind the blocks. My body was dripping with sweat and I reminded myself, whatever happened was okay. She was seeded 5th but the most important thing of all was breaking one minute. That was her goal and I wanted her to be able to achieve it. She dove in and was neck and neck with the girls on each side of her. Both girls had beat her in the past and I was tickled pink that she was keeping up. As she approached the third wall, something amazing happened. It was like she received an electric charge that helped her surge forward and separate herself from the rest of the pack. She ended up finishing third. which didn’t seem possible a few minutes earlier. The best part though? She finally broke that minute and ended with a time of 59.76. She did it! Third in the state and achieved her own personal goal. For a moment my mind flashed back to the look on that woman’s face. For that single moment in time, our faces were the same. My smile came from the inside out and my heart was fuller than its been in quite a long time. My emotions were spilling over as I watched them put that medal around my own child’s neck. It was an amazing day.

The lesson here is simple. Celebrate what is. Stop cheating yourself out of happiness because you get caught up in expectations and comparison. Swim your own race and forget about everyone else in the rest of the pool. Celebrate who you are and what you accomplish like you are the only person in your own little world. That is what winning is really about. Just like my earlier post, the only thing you should try and beat is yesterday so get moving!

Beat Yesterday

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“A flower does not think of competing to the flower next to it. It just blooms.”

Yesterday my daughter had her high school state swim meet. I looked around and saw familiar faces that have been like passing ships these last six years. Our girls have fought it out in the pool so many times it’s hard to imagine. They’ve taken turns being winners and slipping down the ranks to what can seem like defeat. The ebb and flow of life and competition is a steady wave. I believe you either find yourself learning to surf or you get knocked down over and over until finally you drown underneath the comparison. As a parent, I’ve let myself do a bit of both. As I looked around the pool, there was a sign that caught my eye. It said “Beat Yesterday”. All these years, I’ve been caught up in my daughter being the best, the top while I watched her settle someplace in the middle. She did not devote her life to sports. She chose a club where sports could be part of her life but not her entire life. She found that balance, her in between. She made me so proud last night. She held her own against kids who swim almost double the hours. And you know what? She did great. The best part though? Her times were great. She beat her yesterday. She might not have taken first place but she beat her times from the meet before. Sometimes the most important competition one can have is not against other people, it is against oneself. We are all so different and talented in our own unique way. We must strive to beat who we were yesterday and not compare ourselves to the person swimming next to us or in a nearby lane. We all peak at different times. We find success in our own distinct ways. Our goal is to always improve ourselves and be the best version of who we know we can be. So get out there today and swim finals little girl. Beat yesterday and when that buzzer goes off, dive in and bring it home. I will be there watching and silently cheering you on. My mind will probably drift back to when that block made you look so small and the pool seemed way too big. You’ve got this now and somehow you make that pool look small. No matter what you ever decide to do, I will be on the sidelines cheering you on. I will always be your biggest fan. 

Are You A Jerk?

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In my lifetime, I have learned that not everyone has good intentions. I used to trust everyone to do what is kind and right but people have let me down time and time again. My daughter has an odd situation when it comes to swim team. The same coach has the job of coaching both our high school teams from different sides of town and the teams train and travel together. Only one team is very good and unfortunately it is not ours. Last year, much to everyone’s surprise, both our girls and boys team finished in the top seven. For how few kids we have on the team, this was a huge accomplishment. The thing the girls were most proud of was making the top 8 finals for their 200 free relay. They were elated.

This year he has taken that 200 free relay away from them and put them in the 400 free relay. Last night 2 out of three teams finished a lap and a half ahead of them. They don’t even stand a chance in that one. So today there is another meet. Kayleigh told him a month ago tonight is the semi- formal dance at her school only and that she had to leave early from the meet. Today, he sends a message that she is again in the 400 free relay, which is the last event of the meet and guess who is the last swimmer? Usually she is the second swimmer. This meet isn’t even that important.

What is the underlying purpose of this post? Don’t be a jerk. Don’t go out of your way to do the exact opposite of what is good for someone or the reverse of what they want. You won’t gain any respect that way and I think it’s obvious what it will make you look like. Just don’t do it.

Now, because it is against policy to drive yourself to a meet, we have to drive 2 hours to try and get her home as soon as possible so that she is somewhat ready before 13 kids and the limo arrive here to pick them up. Wish me luck!

When Hope Shines Through

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Headway is a beautiful thing, especially when it comes to watching my children grow in leaps and bounds. I think I have officially survived the worst of the teenage years when it comes to my daughter. I sat back and watched painfully as her attitude and work ethic became more of a hindrance than a positive trait. Lately though, something magical has been happening. She is smiling more and the amount of dedication she has been putting into her school work and studies is admirable and her grades are the best payoff of all. I’ve mentioned that she is a swimmer. Her best stroke is the 100 fly but she has refused to do the 200 fly the last few years because well, it requires pain, hard work and physical along with mental exhaustion. Her coach put her in that event today. I gave her permission to scratch because I didn’t want to hear the complaining. She got up and left at 6:10 and almost seemed to be excited to be going. Not only did she drop ten seconds and make it to finals, she is actually going back to swim it again. 

To all you parents who have lost hope, the teenage years are hard. Just when you feel like giving up hope, something wonderful changes overnight. We just have to trust that those selfish, bad attitude teens will turn around and if you’re patient enough, when you least expect it, they probably will. Here’s to a positive moment in parenting. Cheers!

How To Tell If You Are Doing A Crappy Job As A Parent

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First of all, if you are reading this, you must be questioning your own ability to parent. You are probably cringing, wondering to yourself, AM I a crappy parent? Read on to find out.

I’d like to start by reassuring you that I don’t think the majority of us are crappy parents. However, I do believe all parents act crappy from time to time.

Today was my daughters first swim meet of the season. I was sitting next to one of the moms I know, when her son walked up after finishing the 50 free. He asked her if she saw him swim and she nodded her head yes. What was your time, she asked? He responded 32 seconds. Her response actually made my heart hurt. He was excited about his time. In fact, for a first year swimmer he said he was proud of that time. What did mom say? That’s not a good time. It’s just not good enough.

There I was sinking lower in my chair. Was I that kind of parent ripping my child’s confidence away instead of building it up? Did my child’s success or failure depend on my expectation of her instead of what she was actually capable of? We all want our kid to win the race. When she comes in first place, we as a parent win because our child is better and faster and stronger than everyone else. The problem with that is there can only be one winner. We have to learn to be proud of our own child whether she comes in first or last. Imagine swimming a race with all you have only to step out of the pool and hear your own mother(who should be your biggest cheerleader) say “that was not good enough”. You are not good enough.

We’ve all done it to some extent or the other. The important point is to recognize it and stop that pattern right in its tracks. Are you perfect all the time? Are you the best at everything? Anything? Give your kid a break and make her feel good for having the dedication and commitment to step up and want to be in the race. Some kids don’t even make it that far. Do you like to be measured and compared to the people around you? He or she probably doesn’t either. 

Sometimes Being Mom Hurts 

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This is the last unfortunate story I will share about my week. I will start by saying every day is a new day and every week, a new week. What does not completely destroy us will have to make us stronger. Life gives us no other choice.

After getting some difficult news earlier in the week, I pulled myself together to go to Kayleigh’s volleyball game. That’s what parents do, no matter what they are going through on the inside, they stay strong and steady on the outside. The season is practically over and I have seen my daughter play in one game. I could see the pain on her face as she sat on that bench. She was the only girl not subbed in the entire game. Her posture said it all, defeat. She lost so much more than just the game that horrible night. I could see her fighting back the tears as I tried my best to hide my own. I can’t for the life of me figure out why this coach has been so unkind. I am so honest when it comes to my kids strengths and weaknesses and she really is just as good as any other girl on the team. She has given up so many hours of her time, sometimes going to three games a week and forced to sit there while freshman, and varsity play as well. Did I mention staying up until one in the morning to do the work she was not allowed to do at the game? Has it been worth it? Nope. Not to sit on the bench game after game trying her best to high five her teammates and put on a happy face.

She came to us after the game and told us she wanted to quit. I know there are some parents out there that are firm believers, if you start something, you should finish it. I used to feel that way too. As the years have gone by, I realize how important it is to make sure the activities and people around her build her self esteem, not rip it away. There comes a time when you say, this isn’t fair and you do deserve better, your time is important, you’re important. There comes a point when you don’t allow someone to take away what isn’t theirs to take. Shame on anyone who would purposely do this to any child. Sometimes I think people working in any capacity with kids need a thorough mental exam before we entrust them with the most precious thing in our little world. 

Volleyball meant so much to her. She was so excited to get back on the court and I was thrilled to see her follow her heart and do what she really loves. Such a shame. Needless to say, she went to practice the next day and told her coach exactly how she felt and what did her coach say? I understand you not wanting to be on the team anymore, finalizing the decision instead of having a conversation. Once again, she walks away from another sport, another coach who clearly sends the message, I don’t believe in you. You are not enough. What can I say except my heart still hurts. Two difficult lessons in the span of a week and another part of my heart broke watching her in pain. The toughest job in the world is being a mom. I am more than her mom. I am her advocate, her cheering squad, her shoulder to lean on and the one person in the world who will always be here for her, believing in her. I pray loving her will be enough. 

 

Do Something Different

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When something’s not working, do something different.

This is the third volleyball game in a roll that this coach is insistent on putting the same 6 girls in the game. Week after week, they make careless mistakes and lose the game. There are 6 other girls who might play really well if given the chance but some people never learn. They continue to make the same mistake over and over. Guess what? They get the same result over and over. Looks like we are going to lose another game.