“Your job is not to be the best; it’s just your job to DO your best, and let God take care of the rest.” (Rebecca Lindenbach)
Today was a tough day for my Littlest (or should I say youngest?) – and probably just as tough for this Momma, who isn’t as great as their Dad is at controlling her emotions when it comes to our Littles.
So today was Taylor’s 3rd gymnastics competition EVER. She loves gymnastics. Actually, that is an understatement. She eats, sleeps, lives, dreams, and breathes gymnastics. She has since she was really little – like 2 or 3. Forget board games, playing with dolls, coloring, watching kids’ TV – she’d rather be flipping around, hanging on her bar, or watching endless hours of gymnastics videos on YouTube. Our garage looks like an extension of her gym, with panel mats, other kinds of mats for which I do not know the name, a bar, a balance beam, and even something called an air-track, for which she spent all her own money to acquire.
She spends about 13 hours in a week at practice – soon to be 16 or 17 when we add Saturdays. She insists on being at the gym AT LEAST a half hour early for practice every time. And when she’s not at the gym, she is practicing at home. She is utterly fearless! Her passion is infectious – even for a mom who has NEVER been even close to as fearless as she is.
I finally put her into gymnastics “formally” because I knew she needed to learn how to do all of these things SAFELY. And I haven’t regretted one minute of it…she is strong and fit, and because she is my sassy one, I love that she has something to keep her so busy – which will help her stay out of trouble when she’s older (or at least I hope that’s the case)!
So I’ll say it again…today was her 3rd gymnastics competition EVER. The 2nd one, which just happened to be last weekend, was really great – she powered through, earning places on the podium and even 6th place in the all-around for her level and division. I beamed with pride for her, and inside, was praying that she could feel and enjoy that rush of being recognized for all her hard work and effort. She gave it her all and it showed.
So today, I was expecting no less. She is a competitor…tough and proud and skilled. The competition started at 8 a.m. and was about 45 minutes away from home. That meant a short night of sleep for me, worrying that I would oversleep and she would miss it or something. But the alarm went off as planned, and bleary-eyed, I dressed and did hair – both for her and me, and we headed off together for the meet, stopping only for chocolate donuts (breakfast of champions) and some coffee for mom.
Then the warmups began – her first event was floor, and I immediately noticed she wasn’t warming up her required double-back-handspring. Then she tried it, and landed flat on her bum-bum hard. I knew that was going to be a problem. Now mind you, she’s thrown that double-back-handspring a thousand times, but it’s the one thing that has gotten into her head before, and I knew this wasn’t a good sign. I tried signaling her for her attention – or even her coach’s attention – to no avail. I wanted her to practice it more before her judged routine.
Excruciating as a parent NOT to charge out on the floor to make her do it.
She also didn’t have that game face on. The one she had in the first two meets. She was goofing around with her teammate and her coach. Her body seemed relaxed and undisciplined, vs. her normal serious, stoic and concentrated self. It was annoying.
The day before, she had been in the garage on her equipment. For about 5 hours straight. Practicing all sorts of things, including a skill that is one level up from where she currently stands. I didn’t think anything of it. This child can’t sit still. Her love for it almost seems like something a future Olympian would have. So I don’t try to stifle it or hold it back. In this case, I should have.
She was tired.
And guess what? She did her floor routine. It looked amazing. She was in time with her music. She was tight and precise. She did everything – EXCEPT the double-back-handspring. Just didn’t do it. You can see it here.
I was crushed. I was mad. I was disappointed. Did I mention I was mad?
She scored a 6.750. She wouldn’t make eye contact with me. Then I had a hard time with the fact that I was actually feeling mad at her. I felt like I should be that proud Momma no matter what. I didn’t like the fact that I was disappointed. But I knew she didn’t do her best. I knew she had given herself permission NOT to throw that back-handspring.
The rest of the meet went ok…but she was off. And her coach was not thrilled. He loves coaching her – she is coachable and talented. He was disappointed. And he was hard on her, as he should have been.
It was a somber drive home. There were amazingly grownup talks about being your best and giving your all – and choices about whether or not you want it. It was that very hard balance of showing your disappointment and also not crushing her spirit. It was hard. She cried, quietly. She was mad at herself. She should be. I was proud of her for it. She didn’t do her best and she knew it. Coach told her she was lazy. She was. She knew it.
We went home and took a nap. Snuggled together. Talked some more. She decided she wanted to quit because “it’s so hard.” But I think what is hard for her is the thought of facing her coach tomorrow evening. She will be fine. She won’t quit. She really doesn’t want to.
But it was a hard day. I hope I did the Mom thing right. I really do. I am so unbelievably proud of her and how far she has come in only one (formal) year in the sport. I love her more than life. And those words don’t even cover it. Balancing the “disappointed” in this moment with the “I love you more than life for forever” seems easy. It’s not, only I want her to know that I need her to be her best “her.” The best version of her she could ever be. Because that version of her is the most precious gift SHE or I could ever receive.
She is a gift. She is a champion. She is my baby girl.
(and she wants me to write that I am not mad or frustrated or disappointed or angry…or just scary…LOL) So that is my gift to her for today.