October 9, 2012

Hockey Mom.

Posted in Life Lessons, Parenthood, Uncategorized tagged , , , , , , at 12:13 pm by openendedcomment

For the past three nights I’ve watched my son be judged.  A panel of experts, clip-boards in hand, have sat on a  cold metal bench and scored him on his skill and his stride.  I have held my breath, encouraged his performance, felt overwhelming pride in how far he has come and the gains he has made and more than once I’ve cringed when he’s had a move that was les than stellar…wondering if they too noticed, hoping they were focused on some other Mother’s son for those few seconds in time.  I’ve looked into their faces…those Mothers and Fathers all pressed to the glass (the ones that could bear to watch) trying desperately not to look overly concerned while biting their tongues raw…many my friends and easily some of the best people I know, and I know we’re all in this together.

My middle son plays hockey.  Try-outs are a part of the process. No different from many other sports and activities, dance, soccer, football, voice or theatre…to make the cut you have to shine and you have to be judged.  And as a parent, seeing my child judged is one of the most difficult things I do.  I want to run over to those clip-board wielding people whom I try to avoid even eye contact with and explain to them his heart.   I want them to know that the effort he puts forth is beyond anything I’ve ever seen…certainly beyond what I’ve ever managed to do.  For me it was always easy.  If I wanted to do something, I tried out and I made the team or got the part.  If I wanted an “A” I got an A.  I never really had to try.  These “try-outs”, twenty odd years ago, were a formality.  A step I had to take, not a hurdle to leap.  I learned that lesson, that not everything is easy, much later.  I suppose in many ways too much later. I learned it the hard way.  In various areas of my life as of late I’ve not been able to get to my desired goal.  This is new to me and I’m not very good at dealing with it.  I need to refocus and regroup but I’ve been so focused on the fact that something didn’t work for me that I was at a stand-still.  I was being judged by life in general and my scores sucked.  I never learned the lessons my children know so well…and it dawned on me that it was about damn time I started figuring it out.

It is that knowledge, that this is indeed something he and they will have to know and have to face throughout their lives that makes the whole process of watching my little boy be evaluated a bit easier to take.  I know that regardless of how he does or where he lands that he will have pride in knowing he gave it his all to get there.  I know no matter what team he makes that he will approach the season and the next year’s try-outs with renewed determination to be better…to try even harder still. 

Some people have told me that I’m putting undue pressure on my children in encouraging them to be their best or in allowing them to participate in such competitive sports.  I disagree.  There are a myriad of reasons that I feel make these activities not only good but necessary.  The friendships, the self-confidence, the academic effects, the character and the kindness, he is as concerned with how his friends are faring through these evaluations as he is with himself.  He is thrilled when one moves up and feels terrible if someone is brought down.  The bonds these boys are forming are without question a good thing.  When it comes to the encouragement my husband and I give to do well, I believe I am doing them a disservice as a parent to not encourage them to strive to reach the height of what is possible and to attempt even when success is a reach as opposed to the given outcome.  I know  that when they excel it will mean more and instill greater confidence because it was hard, not despite it.  I am endeavoring to raise the type of children our world will need in the generations to come.  The ones that never quit.  The ones that know excellence is an obligation, not a decision.  The future that will understand that each effort doesn’t deliver the desired results and that there will always be someone better and sometimes that just doesn’t matter. 

Last night, watching him strip off that pinny soaked in sweat and effort, I felt ashamed.  I’d been wallowing in the pity and the excuses of not hitting my mark.  Meanwhile, this little bundle of sheer will who should have been exhausted was busy explaining what he could correct for his next skate, bound and determined to try even harder the next round.  I helped make him that way and now the teacher has become the student.  In helping them become these people, they’re teaching me to do it, too.  I’m getting better.  I may not have hit my goal this time around, but I’m laser focused on making sure that it doesn’t happen again.

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1 Comment »

  1. Jen said,

    You should be applauded for this and more parents should be doing it. Good for you & Sean for “putting undue pressure” on them. They learn so much from all different types of activites (sports, spelling bees, dance auditions, piano recitals, etc.) and you, having their back, is one of the greatest things they will learn. Good luck to him (and you).


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