In real life having a kid who dedicates most of their time to work & train, whatever the sport or disciple, isn't always easy or glamorous. It certainty isn't black and white. Often it doesn't include getting to be home for dinner.
When people meet Beach or learn that she is a competitive gymnast the reactions are interesting. On one side there are the parents who will say things like, "You are so lucky! I wish my child would find a passion like that."
On the other side there are those who say, "I would never let my child do that".
In the middle are the moms who can only hope they are doing the right thing for their child by supporting them as they follow their passion- even if we don't get it, love it, or want it.
It's not our job to BE our kids, it is our job to be their mothers.
This time of year a lot of young gymnasts retire. I watch their parents with a mixed-up mess of emotions. To call it morbid jealousy might be most accurate.
It is both incredibly frightening and oddly thrilling to think *your* child could quit. I feel like a 3 year old trying to grasp a complex concept.
When your child is a competitive athlete your life is consumed by theirs. Even the most balanced families can't outrun the impact of the training load restrictions, health & wellness issues, and the travel schedule of their child's passion/sport. That doesn't even include the pile of money funding them.
Retirement for a young athlete at this level is bittersweet.
Especially depending on the reason the girls are walking away.
There are those going on to other sports, harder class loads, or the lure of leisure time.
Then there are those who stop because their bodies hurt too much to keep going. Those are the saddest. Those are the ghost that haunt a mom's dreams at night.
I think as a group we moms question ourselves a lot. We question the money and the time. We question the driving and the coaches. We question the missed birthday parties and sore muscles.
On a bad day we even question the orthopedic surgeons and the ER doctors.
But what we never have to question is our daughters.
Tonight, nearing the end of a 4 hour practice the head coach called out "take your last turns, ladies." Instantly the girls began begging for more time, one more turn, a few more tries, please!!! Of course he let them because that is who they are. (That is how I know we are in the right place.)
After the last turn call my child took 2 more turns, some sort of a vault that ended with a pike into the pit. Following the team circle, the team cheer, and the tearful retirement party for one of Beach's beloved teammates Beach lingered on the mats. Much to my annoyance she chased down another team still out on the floor and joined them.
Every time I drag her out of there because I am sick to death of being at gym I say a little thank you to the universe for getting us here. For us to have found a gym where there is as much joy and celebration as there is work & results.
And of course, a gym where there are tons of glorious last turns.