Envision

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Tomorrow starts Gracie’s 5th competitive diving season. This afternoon, B took her to down to the city where it is being held. She competes at 8 a.m. which, if you ask me, is an ungodly hour to expect anyone to do anything well… especially a sport. Heck, I can’t even root her on before nine because the caffeine hasn’t kicked in yet.

This year Gracie moved up a level and she is getting to be at the top of her division. Only one level to go and she goes into elite. At 13 yo it is a heavy load to carry. She goes to school all day, the final bell rings at 3:15 p.m. and by 4 p.m. she is in the pool working until 8 p.m. five days per week.  But she loves it. Added bonus: I consider it good birth control….there are no boys around this little lady EVER.

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I rarely go to watch her workout anymore. The dives she is doing scare me and I’ve noticed that the kids who cry and get upset all the time are the ones whose mothers are always there watching.  I believe that she doesn’t need the added pressure of doing good for her mom. I want her to do good for herself. That is enough. And if she’s off… who cares… in a week we won’t even remember her scores. This is my part of her sport…trying to walk the line between letting her know that I care but that it is never the end of the world if you struggle or end up last. Sometimes you just do what you do for the fun of it and because YOU LOVE to do it. That has worth in of itself.

Tomorrow Gracie will compete doing a dive that has been giving her a lot of trouble lately. Before she left with her dad I reminded her to ENVISION herself doing the dive perfectly and to BELIEVE that she will do it. I will call her in the morning and play the song from ROCKY (Fly) which is a tradition in which she rolls her eyes and says “please, not again.” That is what I will miss seeing. And then whatever happens will happen. It is all good. Either way she gains confidence, learns to strive for what she wants and starts to trust herself which will carry over for the rest of her life.

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So…. GO, GRACIE, GO! Envision! Believe! And go for it! You have nothing to lose. In my book you are hard-working, dedicated young lady and I will always be proud of you no matter how you do!

Love,

Your Number One Fan (who is already missing you!)

 

P.S. She earned a 1st place, a 2nd place and a 7th. She amazes me!

 

 

 

“FOR YOUR OWN GOOD” List

I don’t know about you, but there seems to be an exclusive list that it handed to each woman during the heat of labor which is promptly and conveniently ignored until the first child heads off to school. It is then, during Kindergarten Round Up, that you realize that every parent in the building decides what kind of person you are after watching your child interact for exactly 4.2 seconds and he is doomed to be a social pariah for the rest of his educational career. It is then, at that exact minute of total mom failure, that THE LIST suddenly re-emerges only to hang over our heads for eternity, flapping in that empty space that our brains used to occupy.
Every mother knows about THE LIST. It consists of all the things our kids must do at least once so that we can check the box that verifies to the world that we ARE A GOOD MOM.
Trying new food. The latest…brocollini….images-1
Yearly pictures at Sears…oops missed that one…but now that I am aware of that fact so by next Tuesday it will be done…semi-check.
Playing the piano and while he may not ready for Carnegie Hall, he does know where middle C is located…images-1
Now B is the sports minded one in our family but because two of our three children get crazed if something as small as an ant touches them, trying to knock out athletic activities…well… it’s a challenge. If I had my druthers I would just scratch that whole section off THE LIST because several family members consider high quality endurance sports akin to laying on the couch and dipping ruffled potato chips into a savory dip. (the endurance part comes when you have to turn the chip around and dip again being careful not to double-dip)
But I have to admit that I do have a fear that scratch outs might just not get you into heaven so I persist in introducing my kids to new sports, knowing in my heart of hearts, that is what all GOOD moms do. That feel-good, doing-the-right-thing, going for Mother Of The Year, attempt is what lead us to the Broken Leg Ice Skating Rink yesterday afternoon where the kids tried ice skating for the very first time.
 I will admit that sometimes it seems as though it takes a while for my kids to get comfortable with new activities. First, we have to check out each and every toilet in the entire facility. If the seat is comfortable then my kids might give it a try. If not, we are OUTTA there thanks to Andre’s unrelenting complaints about the lack of high-quality plastic engineering.
Next comes the vending machines. Anything that has hidden ingredients that make one of my kids break out in hives is considered an immediate success and suddenly every one wants a buck to insert into the machine as they rapidly make their way towards anaphylactic shock.
Finally, throw in a 16-year-old cashier who is making minimum wage but will answer every one of the 20,000 questions thrown at them about the history of said sport…the equipment used and the rules of the sport, then participation is a definite maybe because all bets are on that they can continue with the questions until the place closes for the evening. Better yet, if the cashier can quote numerous safety statistics; then its a go-home because no sport is even safe enough for my boys. Yes, even contemplating sports can be an exhausting endeavor.
So after spending one half- hour tying and re-tying the skates, using the bathroom…for the third time… and learning to walk on blades; the time had come for the kids to make their way onto the ice. If, as the old adage goes, you can smell fear; then the fumes around our family was like the pungent odor that follows us around for three hours after eating grandma’s chili. We just couldn’t shake it. As we left the bench, feet started going every which way but forward and the sound of our bottoms slapping the ice…HARD… reverberated throughout the arena. To top it off, I pulled my back out trying to hold up one child while falling down with another. Mom was done and judging from the little faces surrounding me, the vending machine owner was about to become a very rich man. AGAIN.
Yet, we persisted. Paul put his game face on and after one trip around the rink fell and got a bloody nose that spurted ten feet.  Gracie whined until her daddy escorted her like the princess she is around the rink. But I knew all was lost in regards to Andre when he spent ten minutes making it half-way around the rink with his toes turned in towards the wood paneling the entire time. Never have a seen a child so happy as when he took his blades off of the ice. His face actually beamed so brightly he was in danger of melting the ice.
Later, after exiting the rink, Andre looked up at me and said, “Well, those were absolutely the worst minutes I have ever spent in my entire life!” And needless to say, his assessment didn’t get any better despite being bribed with hot chocolate by B.
On the way home, Andre talked about the experience. His take?
“Well, I am glad that is over. I did it once, it’s a no-go and thank goodness I will never have to do that again. Now, mom, what else can we cross of your list of things I have to do?”
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“What list?””You know, the one that you have that makes me try everything for my own good even though we both know I am going to hate it. But still you try. Again and again. Pushing me to be a better kid so you can feel better about yourself as a mom. So really, if you think about it, this list is really about you and your feelings of inadequacy. Frankly, I think a therapist for you would cost a whole lot less than this “contrived family time.” I think that is something you need to seriously contemplate before one of us dies during these little mini-olympics of yours.”

And with that he was done.
But I’m not.
I want to know… how he knew about… THE LIST?
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Springtime Hell

There is something about the TWO weeks of spring that we experience here in the middle of California. All the trees blossom at once and everyone walks around sniffing, eyes watering and holding their heads because they have massive allergy induced headaches. The amount of anti-histamine sold here in one month maximizes the pharmaceuticals profits and gives their CEO’s the 20 million dollar bonuses they have come to expect as their due compensation.

 

For two weeks the weather is a lovely 70-80 degrees. The shorts come out and there is a spike the number of new memberships at the gym as folks suddenly realize that swimsuit season will begin April 1. Of course, everyone’s posture soon becomes stooped as they realize that those 25 pounds they gained over the winter will never disappear in two weeks… if ever! This leads to an uptake in drinking in the local bars as residents try to forget about those extra 25 that are now hanging over their bar stools. Sigh. Yep, spring around here is a challenge.

But as big as a pain that is it; this time of year is really beautiful. Everything is lush and green.The kids swing with delight in the cool breezes as they try to touch the sun. The hummingbirds re-appear; their wings buzzing with delight. Bears come out of hibernation and this eagle built her nest on a power pole a few miles from my house. Best of all the photo ops are maximized as thousands upon thousands of acres of fruit and nut trees are in bloom while the cows roll happily in the fields not realizing that everything will turn brown 14 days from now as the temperatures start climbing into the 90’s.

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I love spring because my garden comes alive. My grape vine buds, my apricot tree is in bloom as are the guava and the asian pear. The lilies appear out of nowhere from the deep rich earth. Blue hydrangea buds push out and massive blooms of roses appear around the yard. Unfortunately, the pool man just rang the doorbell to remind me that I need a new motherboard for the pool system that will cost a mere $700. I nearly pass out from this most unwelcome news on my soft green grass.

Yes, I love these two weeks of spring. I appreciate it even more as I watch my relatives on the East Coast endure yet another blizzard. Shoveling vs. gardening… it’s an obvious choice.

So now I am off to get in my 10,000 steps on this glorious morning but first I down my Claritin like an alcoholic downs his first drink of the day. My eyes are watering, my head is aching and post nasal drip inflames my throat. But as I pass my neighbors all of us with a smile plastered on our face; I get a perverse sense of satisfaction that we are all experiencing the same special sort of Springtime Hell that can only be found in this lush Valley.

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Letting Go Again

It’s been going on for over a week now.

“I’m nervous!”

“I won’t know anyone there!!!”

“What if I get lost???!!!!!!”

“What if there is nothing there for me to eat?”

“What if I land wrong on the board and hurt myself?”

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This is what I have been hearing from Gracie lately and it intensified as the day drew closer for her to attend diving camp at a large university four hours from home. These are the words of a child whose age is between the first double digit and her teens. Excited but scared to death especially because she knew no one who would be attending camp with her.

She’s good at what she does so I wasn’t worried about that aspect. She has accomplished in three years of doing her sport what it has taken of most of her competitors 6-8 years to do. Learning and practicing wasn’t the issue but being away from home was.

Gracie has always had difficulty separating herself from us. I often wonder if she would have been this way if she had been born to us or if her adoption has played a role in it. Not knowing if people will come back to you or if they will stay with you does tend to put doubts in your head. And as we spent last night together in the city she looked as if she might cry. But I knew that she needed this camp to teach her about courage and accomplishment not so much in her sport but in life in general. That’s what we are suppose to do as parents. We should give our children experiences which allow them to separate with confidence so they will be able to be independent adults when they go off on their own.

Waking up this morning was hard. Her nerves were bouncing all over the place and I was watching as a “bad hair day” started to unnerve her even more. I said all the right things and did all the right things. I asked if she was okay and told her since she could do double rotations she had nothing to be afraid of.  Finally, it was time to go and check into the college dorms. Now, I was getting a little hesitant.

We drove over in near silence with Gracie taking in everything around her. After unpacking and making her bed I saw that Gracie was beginning to get her groove back. Her confidence began to soar (or at least she wasn’t going to let anyone know anything different just like she does when she dives). Just before she was to go to the pool with her group she remembered she had left her water bottle in the car so we dashed off to get it. As we walked back I took her into my arms and said, “You’ve got this baby. You will be okay.”

And with that she lifted her big brown eyes, looked up into mine, let go of my hand and said, “Geez mom, you worry too much!!!”

It was at that moment I knew she would be just fine and that in releasing my hand she was letting go of so much more.

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Sometimes Being A Mom Sucks Big Time

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So today was Gracie’s big meet. For a 11 year-old who has only been in the sport 2.5 years she does remarkably well. She works hard. She practices 20 hours a week. She watches videos of all her favorite Olympic divers and she reads books on the subject. She is the hardest working kid I know but sometimes that just isn’t enough.

Today’s meet was the largest held in the world with 29 states and 5 countries represented. She woke up and ate breakfast. When we arrived at the venue Gracie started crying.Hard. Fast and furious. This is a kid who never cries and goes into a meet exuding confidence. Always. But here she was crying and all the parents on the team were looking at her with big ??? on their faces because they had never seen her like this. She was a mess.

“I feel sick. My stomach hurts.”

“I think that maybe you are just a little nervous. Give it sometime and you’ll be fine.”

“No. I am really sick. I am going to puke.”

“You weren’t sick 10 minutes ago. Are you sure you aren’t just nervous?”

“NOOO I am sick,” she wails.

One of her teammates walks over to her and tells her a story of how sometimes she gets butterflies before competing.

“It’s not that. I am sick,” her body being wracked by sobs.

Back over to me she comes.

“I can’t do this. My stomach hurts.”

“Okay, well here is the thing. I think you are nervous and I am afraid that if I tell you that you don’t have to compete the next time you have a competition you will be paralyzed by fear and you won’t be able to compete then either. So I just want you to go out there and do what you came to do. I don’t care if you finish last. It doesn’t matter to me. Just go out there and try to have fun.”

Bigger tears. Sniffles. Lots. More tears. Huge tears. Rapid tears.

What is a mother to do? Where is the manual on the best way to handle drama?

Coach and team take her over to the staging area. Five minutes later she’s back.

“I can’t feel my hands.”

I’ve always had a fear of drowning and at this point I swear I am beginning to feel water rising to ankle level due to the hurricane of tears.

“Listen if your hands are numb then I have to take you to the hospital.”

“Nooo!”

She sulks back to her team. Obviously this is getting me nowhere fast. Time to switch tactics.

Three minutes later she’s back.

“I’m dizzy!”

“Okay. So go scratch. Go tell your coach that your cannot compete.”

“NOOOOOOOO! I can’t let my team down like that!”

What is a mother to do? What can I say to this tween that will make a difference?

“It is not a matter of letting your team down. It’s a matter of letting yourself down and how you will feel if you don’t compete. What matters is you. I don’t care what you do and in 10 years you won’t even remember your scores. You have decide for yourself if you would feel worse competing or not competing. It is all up to you.Only you can make that decision and I am not going to make it for you.”

“Mom, I just can’t,” she squeaks… gasp, gulp and even more tears.

“Seems to me you have two options. Either you scratch or you suck it up, buttercup, and get out there and do your best in a situation that is not ideal. I will love you either way.”

So she competes and earns two 4th place finishes and one tie for 3rd. Not bad at all for all the tears. For all the “sickness.” For all the doubts. For all the fears.

Later as she stood on the podium collecting her medals she was relaxed. Happy. Calm. And as those medals clanged softly against her chest I realized that the medals I cherish most from this meet are not the ones that hang around her neck but the one that now rests within her head. It’s the one that will remind her that she CAN do what she sets out to do even if she has to work through her fears to grasp it in her hand. To me, that last medal is worth more than gold. I hope she will think so too someday and will treasure the memory of how she overcame all the crap going on in her own head to earn it.