*Potential Kleenex alert.*
Today marks one week until Nickels and Hooman will complete their first kid's triathlon. I have acted as coach, with emphasis on the word acted, since the end of June.
I now understand why some parent-managers of athletes end up swindling money from their mega-wealthy kids: they need it for the booze to calm their nerves.
It isn't easy finding the right words to move a child from bed to dressed to in the pool at 7am on a summer morning. It isn't easy, when their muscles are telling them to stop, to find the words to remind them they have the ability to work through it. It isn't easy, when they wonder why they thought they wanted to complete a triathlon to begin with but now desperately want to quit, to quiet the voices that say "you are a failure as a coach and, by proxy, as a Mom."
But, I have to. I have to get them to the starting line. I have to cheer them on, even if they are screaming or crying or yelling about stopping. I have to help them move from pool to bike to run so they can see the victory tape and cross the finish line. Even if they crawl through.
Because, in the completion, they will see it has all been worth it. They will be so proud of themselves for finishing something so hard. And they will see that this really was all about THEM and nothing about ME. They will understand that they have it IN THEMSELVES to decide to do something and go out and accomplish it.
All the early mornings, all the muscle aches, all the work. It WILL be worth every.single.bit.of.it. They will have accomplished something that few kids even think about doing. And they will forever be able to remember that they worked through so much to get to be able to say "Once upon a time, I dreamed of finishing a triathlon and...."
The parallels to parenting aren't lost on me. No sir, not one bit.
It is a daily struggle to motivate our kids and help them work through the unsavory moments and teach them to beat back the negative messages that say "You aren't good enough."
And it is our job to provide the tiny victories along the way that will keep them going: hugs and messages of praise and smiles, tears of happiness and shouts of joy and simply showing up and being there. Those are the daily reminders that tell our kids they are important, that they matter. No matter how ugly the day was.
Parenting oscillates between being a slow, uphill battle and a fast-paced, downhill thrill ride. We have to figure out the best times and places to veer off course and sit awhile and talk through life lessons, and conversely, the times to dig deep, throw our head down, and silently suffer through the pain. And sometimes it is really hard to know when to stop and breathe life in deep and just be and when to run like hell until our legs give out and we're sure our lungs are on fire.
But, that is our job, to determine when and to seize those moments and wring the life out of them. Because, our earthly race will someday be over, and daily we are preparing our children for that eventuality by demonstrating when it is appropriate to laugh or cry or winch or stand proud or cower or scream or be silent.
Come next Sunday, regardless of their place in the results, I am
going to be one proud, happy Mom and coach. I am going to live in the WHEN of this race with my boys. I am going to let them learn the hard lessons of perseverance and determination and suffering. I am going to cheer them forward and let them decide if they've had too much.
I am going to be the first
to hug their sweaty little bodies and tell them how well they did and
remind them finishing is an amazing accomplishment. And I am confident I will shed a tear or two as well. Because I am an all-occasion crier.
And they will laugh at me. Or ask me why I'm crying. And I will be at a loss to explain the mixture of emotions running through me and down my face.
But, by dog, they will REMEMBER that their Mom, their coach, was there. It will impress upon their memories a moment in time where they knew, to the cellular level, that someone cared. It will be another in a long, long line of tiny finish lines in their lives teaching them how much they are loved and adored and blessed.
And, at my life's end, I hope this will be one of the memories they talk about among themselves, starting with the phrase "Do you remember when Mom...".
What they couldn't possibly know, until they are parents themselves, is that I will also be cherishing this same memory from a different point-of-view. I will forever be holding dear this day when they accomplished so much, learned about persevering through the trials of life, and, in the process, made their Mom so very happy to have shared the journey.
And you can guarantee, when I am an old woman, I will be starting conversations by saying "Back in 2012, my boys did the most amazing thing...."