Nope. This post is not about me. Thank God, right?
It’s about growing up and how we learn.
My girls are 14 and 16 and on the high school swim team. Our swim team is small. Our town is small. We don’t have depth. But there is talent. That is one thing I am certain of. And here is the thing about teenage girls. They often don’t know what talent is or where it resides.
They might think they are “OK” and want to do better. How to get there though is another story. The main element they are lacking and need to learn through living is where to find that ability to better oneself.
Our conference swim championship meet was 2 days ago. All the teams in our conference come together and swim one big meet. Multiple heats, seeded times, the best against the best.
The girls have worked hard all season. The coaches do a great job. There is a specific time to peak as the goal and there is no let-up until that time has come. The peak comes obviously at the conference meet and the sectionals meet one week after. Oh, and let me say, the complaining I heard at home……”Do you know how many yards we swam? I am soooo tired. My arms hurt. Will you massage my back” Blah, blah, blah. I heard daily recaps of the workouts; detailed. But underneath this all, I heard a tone of pride. Silently, I could hear them saying to themselves…..”Look what I did. Wow!” And of all the mothers they could have gotten, I think they drew the short end of the stick. No mercy from me as I said things constantly like “How do you get better? You work hard.” I’m sure they wanted to slap me but then we’d be wrestling on the floor and they wouldn’t like that outcome either. Ha!
On to the meet...
My freshman has changed tremendously over the past 1-2 years. She has morphed into a totally different body and has completed her first season on a team that trains hard. Breast stroke is her love. I am tickled to say that she dropped her PR by 2 seconds and surprised herself in her placing. She is proud of herself and that is all I hoped for. High school sports are for just that; developing confidence and learning to accept ourselves in good and bad outcomes.
My junior did bring me to tears and embarrassing screaming from the bleachers. She unexpectedly found herself on the A team for a relay. She would be anchoring the 200 IM relay swimming 50 yd. freestyle. She did know for 1-2 weeks that this might be happening so she had time to mentally prepare. The girl that usually swims the event was unable to compete and Josie needed to fill in and needed to step it up. In a big way. There was an expectation placed on her that I don’t think she has ever felt in the past. I was secretly THRILLED! I wanted her to be challenged and here was the chance. It wasn’t about her only now. She had a team to answer to; her friends, peers, and coaches. This wasn’t an individual event where someone was expected to be faster than her and that was OK.
Enter the crazy-ass mother. I tried to tell her things that I do or say in my head to make a race successful. I told her that it’s just pain, it won’t last forever, know it’s going to hurt and hurt BAD and get over it. Some of my mantras do involve things such as “don’t let those b____ beat you.” And possibly I told that to Josie. I’m not sure I remember. Ha! Anyway, I tried to get her to feel the fire in her belly, the need to win. Not only for her team but herself.
The race was #1 on the docket. I was nervous. She was the anchor and went last. Man, this is bad, but I THINK our team was just a tick behind the first place team when she hit the water. I do know that when she made her turn she was a hair behind. This is where I feel she’s always just let it go in the past. Said to herself, “this hurts, I’m not going to win”, and the pain did in fact win. But, that night it was almost like I could feel the switch in her brain. Because we all know IT’S IN OUR BRAIN that this happens. She didn’t let up. She flipped off that wall and put the hammer down. Power. Power. Pushed it hard ALL THE WAY to the end. AND WON. She did it! She really did it! She PR’d her 50 time in a huge way and brought home the win for the relay.
Obviously this is where the embarrassing screaming mother part comes in. The race is long over and I’m still yelling like a banshee, and not a nice cheerleader yell, but a squealing ear-splitting dog whistle noise. She was crying. I was crying. It was terrific. This was something I’ve wanted for her for a long time. I’ve wanted her to surprise herself and step up to her potential.
When we got home that night, I asked Josie “what did you tell yourself before the race started.” She said that she knew she had to prove to the coaches and her team that she DESERVED to be there. And she did admit, “Mom, I did say what you told me, ‘Don’t let those b____ beat you.’” Oops, now you KNOW I’m bad! One of my most proudest moments ever!
Anyway, here’s the deal. She worked hard all season. I hope she realizes, with hard work come good things. I don’t mean in just sports but in all of life. I think she does. She proved something to HERSELF. Drive, determination and plain-old bullheadedness sometimes get the job done. And what I so-nicely pointed out to her was that now the bar has been raised. You can’t go back. You can’t go back.