Sunday, August 5, 2012
Be Brave. Be Bold. Be True.
You can blame or thank Proctor & Gamble's Olympic commercials for this post. All those teary, emotion-packed scenes depicting mothers and children pursuing excellence through the most mundane of tasks. Cracking eggs. Washing uniforms. Driving in the rain. Bandaging feet.
Lil' dude, your Dad and I are competitive people. We love competition, both in it and as bystanders. We love athletics. I love music. Hell, even Daddy likes watching competitive barbecuing shows on TV. You've inherited this spirit from an early age, even if we didn't push it. You think everything is a race, you're always looking over your shoulder to see how close someone is to to you. I winned, you losed! Right or wrong, you're racing. It makes me smile. It makes me smug. It makes me ... speculate. I just can't wait to see where your race takes you.
That race might take you nowhere. You might not do a damn thing competitive besides shopping lower priced detergent at one store or another. You might think the mere idea of wearing any team color unacceptable. You might sing at home, journal in your room, and run in the park alone. You might cheer all your friends on in their activities for a lifetime. I hope you know that's fine.
I trust you'll at least join some sport, some team, in the next few years as you already talk about it. Currently your obsession is swimming. The fact that it's summer just might have everything to do with it. Your parents' (and worlds') obsession with Michael Phelps might have the rest. Every single day, it's all you want to do. Two weeks ago on vacation, you really learned how to swim without that life jacket. Each afternoon in the 15' feet of Birch Lake water, you'd make Daddy and me get further and further apart from each other so you could swim between the two of us, chin high in the air, legs furiously kicking, arms scoop, scoop, scooping. It didn't even take a full afternoon for you to learn if you swim under water, you go faster. You keep your eyes open so you can "see how my arms move" and no longer swallow buckets of water in the process. Your tanlines perfectly outline the tiniest of Speedos.
And yes. As your Mother, I love thinking about the possibilities of your future kicking ass at anything, swimming presently and firmly included. It's fun to take a millions pictures and narrate video as you learn and become good at something, wondering, honestly, what kind of highlight reel they might someday be included in. We're not helicopter parents or Dance Moms, I promise. We're just your parents. Cheering you on. Bragging about our only child because it's our right. Wondering and perhaps hoping in the future because that's humanity, especially during an Olympic year.
I want you to know, to remember these words as I type ... hope does not mean expectation. Never confuse the two, ever. What I hope for you never leads itself to expectation. I don't care if you stop swimming tomorrow. Or when you're seven or a freshman in high school. I will crack your early morning eggs, make sure your suits are dry, wear huge photos buttons of you on my turtlenecks, and comment on the current swimmer you want to be just like, beat, or date. Until you're done with that, then I will be too. When you want to quit because it's your decision.
America's current darling, Michael Phelps' mother Debbie has this to say; "Children have to do what they enjoy ... You have to let your kids find what's best for them and what their own niche is."
Now, admittedly, easier said than done. I remember the conversations I had with my own parents about the same topic. There's a degree of ... what is it? Guilt? Responsibility? Failure? My wish for you, lil' dude, is to never feel that way when you're wielding the same power over your own life. May there never be pressure, besides that you put on yourself. May there never be doubt you're capable of making your own decisions. May there never be expectation mistaken as hope.
My hope for you is always the same, it has been since you made me crave spaghetti for nine months straight in utero; the same since I ransacked your crib in the pitch black looking for your pacifiers; the same it has been when I dropped you off preschool; and the same it always will be:
Be brave. Be bold. Be true.