A Missed Opportunity

I missed an opportunity last night… and it has bothered me for exactly 13 hours and 31 minutes……. and counting.

As a parent, is it not our job to build up and encourage our children? How many times are we faced with the agonizing task of actually telling them the truth or padding it to protect them? I have been a mother for just over 15 years now, and it has become more apparent in recent years that as my babies grow older, this “task” of brutal honesty vs. loving parent rears its ugly head more and more often. Yes, I know the politically correct responses are to “tell them the truth!” “don’t coddle them!” and I’m “doing more damage than good!”

There’s an old cliché saying that falls right in line here – easier said than done.

Last night, my freshman daughter had a basketball game on her home court. What made this game more exciting than the others is that her uncle had showed up from Texas to surprise us and was able to make it to the game. Unfortunately, this is the first week back after the holiday break, and she missed several practices because she was out of state for the holidays. Not only did she miss practices, a new player was moved up to her team and so the dynamics were different upon her return. I will be the first to tell you, and her, that my kid is not the star of her team. She plays with her whole heart, but gets discouraged easily. She didn’t get to start for the first game back, and here we are game two, and she isn’t starting again. Uncle watching every move, peers in the stands, pressure on her shoulders to play a position she had never played… behind three girls who already play that position, and play it well. When you put a 5’9″ kid in the post, up against girls that almost double her weight and have 3-5 inches on her, she will most likely be intimidated. She will feel “less than” and she will most likely not be as effective as she has been in other positions she has previously played. Maybe that’s just my kid’s personality? I don’t know, but what unfolded in the matter of an hour and a half put me in a position I’d rather not be in… or would I?

We look for opportunities to lead our children and prepare them to be upstanding young adults and for lack of better terms, NOT a bunch of cry babies who cry foul every time they get bumped or don’t get their way. To watch your kid walk away from something she’s always loved, hanging her head, saying that “it’s just not fun anymore,” is hard.

This brings me back to that missed opportunity.

I am seeing a pattern developing with my daughter, and I’m not proud of it. Rather than seeing her work/fight harder when things get tough or when someone “takes her spot,” she is curling up in a ball and giving up. To spare her feelings, I internalized an entire conversation as I sat right next to her in the car, in silence. And now, here I sit, blogging about it, knowing she will read it, and knowing that I need to have this conversation with her, TODAY. I don’t baby her. She would agree. My husband… probably not. She is my oldest and she probably has the most expectation and lack of sympathy of all of my children. We have been down this road before. Previous teams. Previous tests. Previous adventures.

Even as I type, I feel a strong sense of guilt for even thinking of sharing this. What if it embarrasses her? Am I exploiting her? Why not just have this conversation with her, instead of sharing it with anyone who might click on it and take the time to read it? Well, the reason is this:

I can’t be the only parent that has sat there and NOT said what they KNOW they should say to protect their kid’s feelings. I can’t be the only mom who feels like she is so hard on her kid so often that not having this conversation spared her from one more lecture. I can’t be the only mom who knows they missed an opportunity to mold a child.

To my child:

You ARE good enough. Nothing worth having comes easy. You are always replaceable! If you want something bad enough, you are going to have to work for it. Put in the work, and when that work isn’t enough, work harder. If it is that important to you, you will fight for it. Don’t be so quick to bow your head in defeat and tuck your tail and run. Step up your game. Attitude is everything! Don’t worry about showing anyone else what you can do… do it for yourself. Prove it to YOU.

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